CWP in the Courts

Canada Without Poverty and its predecessor, the National Anti Poverty Organization has had a long standing history of bringing matters of poverty and human rights into the legal justice system. Access to justice is an essential part of addressing poverty in Canada. As a result, CWP and NAPO have served in variety of capacities including as an expert intervener, including to the Supreme Court of Canada, or as the main party arguing the case.

Recently, CWP filed an application with Ontario Superior Court seeking a declaration that provisions in the Income Tax Act which restrict political activities of charities seeking to relieve poverty in Canada violate the Canadian Charter, particularly the right to freedom of expression (s. 2(b)) and the right to freedom of association (section 2(d)). For more information on the case, click here.

For a full history our in the legal justice system, see our extensive list below.

Canada Without Poverty’s Judicial History

CWP/NAPO has been granted leave to intervene in various cases, including:

  • CNCP Telecommunications v Alberta Government Telephones, 1980 CarswellNat 617 (WL Can), 114 DLR (3rd) 64 (FCTD).
    • NAPO intervened to oppose increased rates by Bell Canada and British Columbia Telephone Company.
  • Consumer’s Association of Canada v British Columbia Telephone Co., 1980 CarwellNat 195 (WL Can), [1981] 2 FC 461 (FCA).
    • NAPO intervened to help appeal a decision by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission to allow the acquisition of GTE Automatic Electric by the British Columbia Telephone Company by arguing that the acquisition was not in the public interest.
  • Bell Canada v. Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission, [1989] 1 SCR 1722, CarswellNat 586 (WL Can) (SCC).
    • NAPO argued against the subsidizing by monopoly subscribers of the users of competitive network services by BC Tel and Bell Canada.
  • Horlick v Hastings (County), 1992 CarswellOnt 6114 (WL Can), 35 ACWS (3rd) 2 (ONCJ Gen Div).
    • NAPO argued to protect the privacy of Social Assistance recipients from their names arbitrarily being exposed to the Council of the Corporation of the County of Hastings.
  • Finlay v. Canada, [1993] 1 S.C.R. 1080, CarswellNat 1887 (WL Can) (SCC).
    • NAPO argued against the deduction of social assistance payments below the amount necessary to satisfy basic needs, unfortunately the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the government actions were not in breach of the Canadian Assistance Plan (CAP).
  • Conrad v. Halifax (County), 1994 CanLII 4159, 130 NSR (2nd) 305 (NSCA).
    • NAPO intervened to argue that stopping municipal social assistance without a hearing was a violation of the right to security of the person in section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Clark v Peterborough Utilities Commission, 1998 CarswellOnt 2816 (WL Can), OJ No 2915 (ONCA).
    • NAPO supported social assistance recipients in arguing that PUC disconnecting their power if they did not pay a security deposit was in violation of their section 7 and 15 Charter rights: rights to life, liberty, and security of the person; and the right to equality.
  • Kearney v Bramalea Ltd, 1998 CarswellOnt 5890 (WL Can), OHRBID No 21 (ONBI).
    • NAPO argued for the use of international human rights law to interpret the Charter and hold Canada accountable to its human rights obligations, specifically in reference to discrimination on multiple grounds including income in the attainment of housing.
  • Canadian Institute of Public and Private Real Estate Co. v. Bell Canada, 2004 FCA 243, FCJ No 1103.
    • NAPO intervened to appeal a decision by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission that required building owners to give local exchange carriers access to units when providing telephone services.
  • Canada (AG) v. Stephen Joseph Harper, 2004 SCC 33, 1 SCR 827.
    • NAPO partnered with Democracy Watch to further the argument for an egalitarian election model by providing social science evidence at the Supreme Court of Canada to demonstrate that third party spending affects Canadian elections and low voter turnout amongst low income people.
  • Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission, Telecom Decision CRTC 2000 746 CarswellNat 4358 (WL Can).
    • With the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, NAPO argued against funding competitive toll services that would hinder service in underserved areas.
  • Canadian Bar Association. v. British Columbia, 2008 BCCA 92, 6 WWR 262.
    • NAPO supported the Canadian Bar Association who brought a claim on behalf of low income people to challenge the inadequacies of the legal aid system in British Columbia as unconstitutional and in breach of international human rights law, including the right to meaningful and equal access to the courts, and the right to life, liberty and security of the person among others. NAPO aimed to establish a constitutional right to civil legal aid in Canada.

NAPO/CWP has been a main party in the following cases:

  • Inuit Tapirisat of Canada and National Anti-Poverty Organizations v Canada (AG), [1980] 2 SCR 735, CarswellNat 633 (WL Can) (SCC).
    • NAPO argued that the hearing in front of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission regarding telephone tolls in Ontario, Quebec, and Northwest Territories was not a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of justice as party submissions were not properly heard.
  • CNCP Telecommunications v Canadian Business Equipment Manufacturers Association, [1985] 1 FC 623, CarswellNat 28 (WL Can) (FCA).
    • NAPO supported the regulation of of sale prices of telecommunications terminal equipment.
  • National Anti-Poverty Organization v Canada (AG), 105 NR 160, 1989 CarswellNat 1290 (WL Can) (SCC).
    • Leave to appeal refused.
  • Federation Anti-Poverty Groups of British Columbia v Vancouver (City), 2002 BCSC 105, BCJ No 493.
    • NAPO partnered with several other anti-poverty groups to challenge the criminalization of people who panhandle in Vancouver by arguing that anti-panhandling by-laws violate section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly the right to liberty and security of the person.
  • Bell Canada v Canada Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commissions, 2009 SCC 40, 2 SCR 764.
    • NAPO argued against long term risks and costs to consumers in reference to increased costs and the bundling monopoly of competitive services by various telephone companies.


  • Kimberly Rogers Inquest, 2002
    • Following the death of Kimberly Rogers after she was cut off from social assistance and then placed under house arrest for welfare fraud, NAPO brought attention to federal government policies that undermine social services across Canada and avoid responsibility for the well-being of people in need.

You can also keep up to date on our work by subscribing to our newsletter.