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

What's New

UN Human Rights Committee Issues ground breaking decision in Toussaint v Canada. Canada violated the right to life by denying irregular migrants access to essential healthcare. Read more.

Canada Without Poverty v Canada - Historic Win for Charities

Grounding the Rights-Based National Housing Strategy in the Right to Housing: Here's How See the "Draft Legislation, and the  Consensus Proposals.

Bruce Porter Enhancing the Rights-Based Framework for Canada's National Housing Strategy

Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing Report on Rights-Based Housing Strategies A/HRC/37/53.

Summary of 10 Principles in a Rights Based Housing Strategy

Canada's UPR#3. Check out the Key UPR Recommendations

Application for Leave to Appeal to Supreme Court of Canada denied in Tanudjaja (Homeless peoples' rights to life, security and equality) Affidavit of Bruce Porter
All other documents

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

See the ESCR Case Law Database

Past but Relevant NOW

Bill C-400 model housing strategy legislation.

1992 Alternative Social Charter

New Publications

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

Martha Jackman & Bruce Porter "Social and Economic Rights" in P. Oliver, P. Macklem and N. Des Rosiers, The Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution (New York, Oxford Univesity Press, 2017) at pp 843-866.

Bruce Porter, Inclusive Interpretations: Social Rights and Judicial Accountability in 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)


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

Litigation Support

Canada Without Poverty in Court April 23rd to Challenge Restrictions on Charities' Freedom of Expression

TORONTO – A challenge by a national anti-poverty organization to restrictions of freedom of expression in the Income Tax Act will be heard at the Ontario Superior Court, Osgoode Hall, Toronto, Courtroom 6 at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, April 23.

Canada Without Poverty (CWP) is taking the federal government to court to challenge provisions in the Income Tax Act (ITA) that restrict charities’ freedom to make public recommendations to changes to laws and policies in pursuit of their charitable goal. Under the ITA, this is considered ‘political activity’ and is restricted to 10% of a charities time or resources.

“CWP has been granted charitable status to alleviate poverty but we are prevented from doing it effectively. We are permitted to make recommendations to change laws and policies in pursuit of our charitable goal but only to government officials. If we email our networks to communicate these recommendations, speak about them in public or use social media, they’re defined as restricted ‘political activity’, and we risk losing our charitable status”, commented Leilani Farha,CWP’s Executive Director.
Because CWP makes its recommendations public in its projects, CRA has announced its intention to revoke CWP’s charitable status. CRA has agreed not to do so, until the courts decide on the constitutionality of these restrictions.
CWP and many other charities were audited for political activities under the previous government.

Upon election, Prime Minister Trudeau issued a mandate letter directing Ministers of Finance and National Revenue “to allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment … This will include clarifying rules governing “political activity” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy.”

In 2016 a consultation panel was appointed by the Minister of National Revenue to make recommendations regarding the participation of charities in political activities.  The panel recommended that the restrictions in the ITA be removed “to explicitly allow charities to fully engage without limitation in non-partisan public policy dialogue”.

CWP is asking the court to find that the restrictions on charities violate the right to freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the Charter and to provide the government with 12 months to amend the ITA in keeping with the panel’s recommendations. 

For further information or interview requests, contact Leilani Farha at

She will be attending the hearing on and will be available for media requests.

SRAC and CWP are grateful to McCarthy Tetrault for providing pro bono representation and for funding from Legal Aid Ontario Test Case Funding to allow SRAC and CWP to work collaboratively with McCarthy Tetrault in developing the evidence and argument..


Factum of CWP

Factum of Attorney General

Reply Factum of CWP

Amended Notice of Application

Notice of Constitutional Question

Affidavit of Leilani Farha


CBC: Charities Worried after Meeting with Morneau on 'Political Activities' law

 CBC: Canada Without Poverty launches charter challenge

CBC: Anti-poverty group launches challenge of political-activity limits 

Globe & Mail: Like unions and political parties, charities deserve freedom of speech 

CBC: Power and Politics interview

As It Happens interview (at 9:30 minutes in to part 3 of the show)

CBC: CBC Ottawa Morning interview (labelled as charity and politics case) 

Double Aspect Blog: Charitable Status and Freedom of Expression: Testing Labour Union Exceptionalism in the context of the Charter’s Fundamental Freedoms

Hamilton Spectator: Legal Matters: Can Canadian charities use resources for political activities?

Huffington Post: UN Report on Canada 'A Wake-Up Call'