Promoting and claiming social and economic rights through an inclusive human rights practice

What's New

Charter Committee on Poverty Issues and the Canadian Health Coalition Apply to Intervene in Refugee Health Care Case at Federal Court of Appeal. See CCPI-CHC Written Representations

SRAC-CCPI Make Submission to CESCR on Right to Effective Remedies in Canada.

SRAC presents at OHCHR Side Event on ESC rights of Migrants in an Irregular Situation

Amicus Brief Filed by ESCR-Net in Detroit Water Cut-off Case. Press Release

Migrants' Access to Healthcare: Petition to tUN Human Rights Committee. Nell Toussaint v Canada HRC No 2348-2014 to bve considered on merits. See Response to Canada's Submissions on Admissibility

Court of Appeal Decision Released in Homelessness Challenge.  Homeless peoples' rights to life, security and equality declared "non-justiciable" - Justice Feldman dissents Read More.

New Book. Martha Jackman & Bruce Porter (eds)  Advancing Social Rights in Canada now published and available at Irwin Law.

Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Leilani Farha presents Thematic Report to UN General Assembly.

Advancing Strategic Litigation of ESCR under the OP-ICESCR. Read More on Strategic Litigation Initiative

OP-ICESCR gets more ratifications

See the ESCR Case Law Database

and the Toolkit for Action for the OP-ICESR

Book 1 Book 2 Book 3 Book 4

CCPI and CWP file Motion to intervene at Supreme Court on Discrimination because of Povwerty/Social Condition.

Supreme Court Denies Leave in Challenge to Refusal to Waive Fees for Poor People

Toussaint v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada


Rights-Based National Housing and Anti-Poverty strategies

Bill C-400 model housing strategy legislation defeated by the Conservative majority.

Strategies to Address Homelessness and Poverty in Canada: the Constitutional Framework

 International Human Rights and Strategies to Address Homelessness and Poverty in Canada: Making the Connection

 

Check out

Social Rights Ontario

Amendments Rejected to Ontario's Bill 140. See the key right to housing amendments 


New Publications

Martha Jackman and Bruce Porter (eds)  Advancing Social Rights in Canada (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2014)

Helena Alviar García, Karl Klare and Lucy Williams (eds), Social and Economic Rights in Theory and Practice: Critical Inquiries (London and New York: Routledge, 2015)


 Bruce Porter, Inclusive Interpretations: Social Rights and Judicial Accountability 

From the Archives

Bruce Porter, Human Rights and the Right to Housing in Housing - A Right, a publication to coincide with an exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery on homelessness and the right to housing. Now Magazine, Toronto, 1989.

See Further publications

The Social Rights Advocacy Centre

A not for profit NGO relieving poverty and improving access to adequate food,clothing, housing, education, healthcare and other requirements of dignity, equality and security through human rights research, public education and legal advocacy in Canada and around the world. SRAC is on the Steering Committee of ESCR-Net's Strategic Litigation Initiative, the ESCR Case Law Database and the NGO Coalition for the OP-ICESCR. SRAC co-directs the a major researh project on Social Rights in Canada. SRAC co-ordinates the  Charter Committee on Poverty Issues , intervening in more than a dozen cases at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Current Activities

Litigation Support 

The Right to Healthcare of Undocumented Migrants - Petition to the UN Human Rights Committee: Toussaint v. Canada

Historic Challenge to Homelessness in Canada: Tanudjaja et al v. Ontario and Canada

Challenging Discrimination Because of Social Condition or Poverty

Research

SRAC Co-Directs the a Major Research Project Under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council: Community-University Research Alliance

Social Rights in Canada

SRAC Publications

SRAC publications and working papers.

Law Reform

Promoting rights-based strategies to reduce and eliminate poverty and homelessness

International Education and Advocacy

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Rules of Procedure, Strategic Ligation

Public Education

Universal Periodic Review

Judicial and Legal Education

Expert Evidence in Recent Cases

Litigation Support

Charter and International Human Rights Challenge: The Right to Healthcare of Undocumented Migrants in Canada

The case is now before the UN Human Rights Committe in a communication under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), alleging violations of various rights under the ICCPR including article 6, the right to life, article 7, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to non-discrimination under articles 2(1) and 26.

After the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave on April 5, 2012 is yet another stunning decision by the Supreme Court of Canada Ms. Toussaint, who has heroically risked deportation and other reprisals to advance the rights of undocumented migrants in Canada, announced that she would file a petition under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to address the Canadian courts' failures to protect fundamental human rights recognized under international human rights law.

Excutive Summary of the Petition

Petition: Nell Toussaint v Canada HRC No 2348-2014

Applicant's Application for Leave to Appeal to SCC Memorandum

Letter from Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

For more information on this historic case click here.


Historic Charter Challenge to Homelessness and Violations of the Right to Adequate Housing in Canada

AGs Filed Motion to Dismiss. Upheld in regressive decision of Lederer J at Superior Court; Appealed to Court of Appeal of Ontario; 8 interventions allowed; Hearing on May 26-28 2014.

See the Notice of Application

SRAC has provided extensive legal research and evidentiary support to applicants and interveners in this historic challenge to homelessness and violations of the right to acdequate housing in Canada.  The challenge was filed in Ontario Superior Court on April 26, 2010 by claimants Jennifer Tanudjaja, Janice Arsenault, Ansar Mahmood, Brian Dubourdieu, and the Centre For Equality Rights In Accommodation (CERA).  A broad coalition of individuals and organizations are working on the case, including ACTO, CERA, the Dream Team, Sistering, the June Callwood Centre, the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, and laywers Fay Faraday, Leilani Farha (CERA), Tracy Heffernan (ACTO) and Peter Rosenthal.

The case is unique, particularly because of the nature of what is  challenged and the remedy that is sought.  The claim does not challenge a particular legislative provision or government action but rather the government's failure to develop and implement a national housing strategy, such as would be implemented under Bill C-400.

AT THE ONTARIO COURT OF APPEAL

Notice of Appeal

Appellants' Factum

AG Canada Factum

AG Ontario Factum

Interveners' Facta

Charter Committe on Poverty Issues, Pivot Legal Society and Justice for Girls

Amnesty International and ESCR-Net

ARCH Disability Coalition

Colour of Poverty Coalition

Income Security Coalition

Women's Legal Education and Action Fund

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Asper Centre

AGs Facta in Resonse to Interveners

AG Ontario Response to Interveners

AG Canada Response to Interveners

For documents and further information on this case click here.


Discrimination on the Ground of Social Condition of Poverty, homelessness or level of education

CCPI and CWP file Motion to intervene at Supreme Court on Discrimination because of Social Condition in Taypotat v. Taytpotat.

Denied leave at the Supreme Court of Canada in

Toussaint v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration SCC File No. 34336

Application for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

Respondent's Memorandum on Application for Leave to SCC

Applicant's Reply on Application for Leave to SCC

Federal Court of Appeal Decision

Nell Toussaint won the right to consideration of fee waiver request under section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in place at the time. Unfortunately, this decision will be of little use to claimants under the current IRPA, which has been amended by the Harper Government, in response to this litigation, to preclude fee waiver under section 25 of the Act. The Federal Court of Appeal proceeded to consider CCPI's constitutional and Charter arguments and, sadly, upheld the erroneous findings of Snider J. in the court below.

Access to Justice - Advance Costs Awards

CCPI  joined in coalition with three other Equality Seeking Groups (LEAF, CCD, PHRC) to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Alberta v. Caron SCC File No. 33092. The case concerns the discretion of the Courts to award advance costs to claimants who would otherwise be unable to litigate their public interest claims.

Our arguments were successful at the Supreme Court of Canada. While advance costs awards do not solve the larger systemic issues of access to justice linked to inadequate civil legal aid and the cancellation of the Court Challenge Program, the decision of the Supreme Court is still a positive step in promoting access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalized groups. See

 Interveners Motion Record and see Factum of CCD,  CCPI, LEAF and PHRC in Caron

Decision of the Supreme Court of Canada R. v. Caron, 2011 SCC 5

Law Reform

Bill C- 400: The Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act

Previously Bill C-304.

SRAC was instrumental in having this bill amended toincorporate all of the key recommendations of UN treaty monitoring bodies and the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. It also recognized Quebec’s formal adherence to theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Act commits to developing:

  • goals and timelines for eliminating of homelessness;

  • an independent complaints procedure for violations of the right to housing;

  • guarantees of effective participation;  

  • a process for review and follow-up on any concerns or recommendations from UN human rights bodies with respect to the right to adequate housing; 

  • provision of financial assistance to those who cannot otherwise afford housing

Despite widespread support from civil society organizations, the Bill was defeated on February 27, 2013 though all four opposition parties and two independent members supported it.

Letter to Rachel Rolnik, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing

Letter to MPs from Steering Committee on Human Rights Implementation in Canada – English / French

International Education and Advocacy

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Read about SRAC's involvement in the successful compaign at the United Nations for the historic adoption of an optional complaints mechanism for economic, social and cultural rights, and the  NGO Coalition for an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) , the ESCR-Net Caselaw Database , and international legal education on social rights.

Considerations of the International NGO Coalition for an OP- ICESCR in relation to the OP-ICESCR and its Rules of Procedure  

Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Culturaladopted by the UN General Assembly December 10, 2008

Justice Now: Ratify to Protect All Human Rights

Bruce Porter,  The Reasonableness Of Article 8(4)  Adjudicating Claims From The Margins,? Nordic Journal of Human Rights (NJHR), Vol. 27, No.1:2009.

Bruce Porter, Reasonableness in the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR, (SRAC Working Paper, 2012) for publication in R. Brown, M. Langford, B. Porter and J. Rossi (eds) The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Commentary (Capetown: Pretoria University Law Press, forthcoming).

Bruce Porter, Enforcing the Right to Reasonableness in Social Rights Litigation: 
The Canadian Experience
, SRAC Working Paper, for publication in M. Langford, C. Rodriguez and J. Rossi (eds), Making it Stick: Compliance with Social Rights Judgments in Comparative Perspective (Capetown: Pretoria University Law Press, forthcoming).

Bruce Porter The Right to be Heard: The Optional Protocl to the ECESCR: What's at Stake? Human Rights Tribune des droits humains Volume 11, Nº 3

Public Education

SRAC conducts extensive human rights public education in Canada and around the world.  In collaboration with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and an NGO Steering Committee SRAC co-ordinated Canadian NGOs in the process leading up to the 2009 and 2013 Universal Periodic Reviews of Canada.

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food: Mission to Canada 2012

SRAC worked with a broad range of community partners in co-ordinating the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, Olivier De Schutter.  A meeting of national organizations and human rights experts with the Special Rapporteur was organized inOttawa on May 7, 2012 on The Right to Food and Governance in Canada. See:  Agenda and presentations See the Special Rapporteur’s Preliminary Report on his Mission to Canada. See Further Information on Meetings with Civil Society and Presentations.

See also Letter to the Prime Minister regarding the Response of the Government of Canada to the Special Rapporteur’s Mission.

 

Judicial and Legal Education in Canada

SRAC provides expert evidence in key cases, most recently on poverty as an analogous ground of discrimination in

Boulter v. Nova Scotia Power Incorporation, 2009 NSCA 17

Unfortunately denied leave at the Supreme Court of Canada on September 10th to the Supreme Court of Canada

and in

Gunther et al v. Canada (MCI); Krena et al v. Canada (MCI)  Toussaint v. Canada (MCI)   (Appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal and denied leave by the Supreme Court of Canada)

Also provided evidence on discrimination against persons with disabilities, poor people and people relying on social assistance in a challenge to a bylaw designed to prevent members of these groups from settling in the Cedar Hill neighbourhood of Kitchener.

Advocacy Centre For Tenants Ontario v. City of Kitchener and the Regional Municipality of Waterloo (Ontario Municipal Board PL050611)

SRAC is a member of the Court Challenges Program of Canada and does extensive research and public education on equality rights in Canada.  See

Bruce Porter,'Expectations of Equality' (2006) 33 Supreme Court Law Review 23.

Promotes the proper interpretation and application of human rights legislation to protect social rights.  See

Submission to the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the Right to Adequate Housing and the Human Rights Code

SRAC Promotes Social Rights In Other Countries

In Northern Ireland, providing a keynote address on proposals for a new Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland

In Beijing, China, at a workshop organized by Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for Judges, advocates and legal scholars in China on the justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also available in Chinese. A follow-up presentation was made in Beijing in 2013

Research

The Social Rights in Canada (CURA) Project

SRAC was a partner and Bruce Porter co-directed a Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Community University Research Alliance (CURA) research project into social rights in Canada (www.socialrightscura.ca ).

and

SRAC Research Publication