Poverty and Human Rights

"You are a human being. You have rights inherent in that reality. You have dignity and worth that exists prior to law." Lyn Beth Neylon

Civil, political, economic and social rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related international law. However, while civil and political rights in Canada are well established and protected, the same cannot yet be said for economic and social rights – even though all human rights are meant to be indivisible (i.e. equal in status) under law. A major reason for this is simply lack of public awareness and understanding of economic and social rights.

It has been said that “human rights only become meaningful when they gain political content…they are rights that require active participation from those who hold them.” Towards such participation, Canada Without Poverty intends to develop on-line resources and workshops on poverty and economic and social rights; educate Canadians about poverty and about Canada’s human rights obligations, particularly respecting economic and social rights; and seed the founding and coordination of a growing national network of Canadians engaged, from a human rights basis, in poverty solutions.

In May 2012, Canada Without Poverty launched, “Economic and Social Rights in Canada“, an online course that explored the connection between poverty, housing, women, health and economic and social rights.  It is the first of its kind in Canada and marked the beginning of a new project for the organization.  The course ran for six weeks from May 7 – June 15 and included over 40 participants from around Ontario.  Human Rights experts Leilani Farha, Bruce Porter, Martha Jackman, Shelagh Day and Bonnie Morton guided content and discussion as case studies and reports were examined.