UN tells Trudeau government – human rights are not optional
For immediate release
OTTAWA (24 February 2016) – Earlier today, the Canadian government was grilled by members of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) about Canada’s dismal human rights record here at home.
Among the primary issues raised by the CESCR were the federal governments continued decline of social spending as it relates to GDP, the continued rise of homelessness, and the federal government’s failure to ensure provincial, territorial and local governments protect economic, social and cultural rights (ESC). It was welcoming to see the Committee reference the importance of access to justice for those most vulnerable to rights violations, such as the homeless and people in poverty.
Canada Without Poverty’s (CWP) President Harriett McLachlan, “It would seem that the government views ESC rights as second class rights, they are not to be held in the same regard as civil and political rights. As a result, people who are living in poverty – who are hungry, have no secure place to live or even clean drinking water – have no means to claim these rights. This is a failure on Canada’s part.”
Leilani Farha, CWP’s Executive Director stated, “A perfect example is what is currently happening in BC with the hidden claw backs to social assistance for people with disabilities. We are seeing the provincial government put its financial needs ahead of the dignity and rights of people with disabilities when all levels of government are responsible for fulfilling Canada’s international human rights obligations. Integration of ESC rights in policy and law would prevent such a regression of rights.”
McLachlan added, “To paraphrase one of the committee members, if we are to move forward on this idea of a new Canada with this new government, it’s time for Canada to take a step forward and set out a more ambitious, braver interpretation of the Charter to enable it to fully protect all ESC rights as enshrined in the Covenant.”
Canada is currently under review by the CESCR for the first time in ten years. This is also the first UN review of Canada under the new Trudeau government. CWP will have staff present at the review of its entire duration. Canada will continue to be questioned by the CESCR tomorrow.
For more information:
Canada Without Poverty