The Right to Healthcare of Migrants - Petition to the UN Human Rights Committee: Toussaint v. Canada and Support for Interventions in the Refugee Healthcare Case.
Historic Challenge to Homelessness in Canada: Tanudjaja et al v. Ontario and Canada
Challenging Discrimination Because of Social Condition or Poverty
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 and working papers.
New and exciting!
Martha Jackman and Bruce Porter (eds) Advancing Social Rights in Canada (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2014)
Bruce Porter, Inclusive Interpretations: Social Rights and Judicial Accountabilityprepared for 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)
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
Universal Periodic Review
Judicial and Legal Education
Expert Evidence in Recent Cases
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
AG Canada Factum
AG Ontario Factum
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
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
For commentary and documents on the Taypotat case clicke here.
CCPI and CWP file Motion to intervene at Supreme Court on Discrimination because of Social Condition in Taypotat v. Taytpotat.
AG Canada Reply
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court denied the application for leave to intervene and released a unanimous negative decision by written by Abella J.
Kahkewistahaw First Nation v. Taypotat, 2015 SCC 30.
The fate of this claim would appear to have been sealed when the SCC denied leave to CCPI/CWP to argue that level of education as a component of social condition should be recognized in this circumstance as an analogous ground under section 15. Instead, the SCC looked for evidence of adverse effects on other grounds which, in CCPI/CWP's view were not the issues of discrimination in this case. The SCC reached the wrong conclusion because it denied us the chance to pose the correct question.
Toussaint v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration SCC File No. 34336 (Fee Waiver Case)
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
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
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
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.
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 ).
SRAC Research Publication