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


Looking for?

The Toussaint case on right to life of irregular migrants and healthcare

The Tanudjaja Charter challenge to the failure to address homelessness

The National Housing Strategy Act and the right to housing in Canada

The 2019 Toronto Housing Charter and its Implementation Plan

Charter Committee on Poverty Issues Interventions

Social Rights In Canada Community-University Research Project


What's New

CCPI/CHC/FCJRC and AI/ESCR-Net file facta in Toussaint v Canada

Presentations to Dept of Justice and OGD on National Housing Strategy Act with NRHN and WNHHN

The progressive realization of the right to housing: Paper prepared for the National Housing Council

Three papers on implementing the right to housing under the National Housing Strategy Act

Co-ordinated Legal Action to challenge Canada and other States obstructing #TRIPS Waiver at the #WTO! Letter to Minister NG

CERA and National Right to Housing Network Make first SUBMISSION under the National Housing Strategy Act.

Charities liberated to engage in public policy after groundbreaking decn of Justice Ed Morgan in Canada Without Poverty v Canada

New Publications

Bruce Porter, La interdependencia de · los derechos humanos in Derechos sociales y el momento constituyente de Chile: Perspectivas globales y locales para el debate constitucional (Distrito Global, 2021)

Jackie Dugard, Franziska Sucker & Bruce Porter & Jamie Burton, Supporting the TRIPS COVID-19 waiver is an essential step to support international human rights (Open Global Rights, 2021)

Bruce Porter, Implementing the Right to Adequate Housing Under the National Housing Strategy Act: The International Human Rights Framework (2021) (en francais)

Jackie Dugard, Bruce Porter, Daniela Ikawa and Lilian Chenwi (eds) Research Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as Human Rights

Elizabeth McIsaac and Bruce Porter "Housing Rights: Ottawa takes an historic step forward"Literary Review of Canada,(November, 2019)

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.

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

From the Archives

1992 Alternative Social Charter 

See Further publications























Litigation Support

SRAC provides research and evidentiary support to test case litigation promoting economic and social rights.

SRAC assisted to establish and is an active participant in ESCR-Net's Strategic Litigation Initiative.

SRAC provides administrative support and co-ordinates the work of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues which has intervened in more than a dozen cases at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Litigation Support 

Claiming the Right to Healthcare as a component of the Right to Life and Equality for Migrants in Irregular Situations: Toussaint v. Canada

All documents

Challenging Violations of the Freedom of Expression of Charities: CWP v Canada

All documents.

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

The Claim that wasn't heard

The Motion to Dismiss

ESCR-Net Amicus in Detroit Water Shut-off Case

Right to Health Care for Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Interventions in Doctors for Refugee Health Care Case

Access to Justice for Immigrants living in Poverty

Access to Justice: Advanced Costs Awards

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

See the Decisions and Arguments in the Motion to Strike and Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada

Affidavit of Bruce Porter in Support of Leave to Appeal to SCC

Charter Committe on Poverty Issues, Pivot Legal Society and Justice for Girls Court of Appeal Factum

Amnesty International and ESCR-Net Factum


Petition to UN Human Rights Committee Following Charter Challenge: The Right to Healthcare for Migrants in Irregular Situations: Nel Toussaint

Historic challenge based on sections 7 and 15 of the Charter and international human rights law, launched by Nell Toussaint to the denial of healthcare to many undocumented immigrants in Canada. 

Executive Summary of the Petition

Petition: Nell Toussaint v Canada HRC No 2348-2014

Canada's Response on Admissibility

Author's Comments on Admissibility

Canada's Response on Merits

Applicant's Application for Leave to Appeal to SCC Memorandum


Right to Health: Interventions in Doctors for Refugee Health Care Case

The Charter Committee on Poverty Issues (CCPI), in conjunction with the Canadian Health Coalition, sought leave to intervene to challenge Juctice Mactavish's finding that those who rely on publicly funded health care do not enjoy the same protection of the right to life in access to health care that were found, in the Chaoulli case, to apply to those who can afford privately funded health care. SRAC also worked with ESCR-Net and Amnesty International in an intervention application to address the international human rights aspects of this case.

See the following documents relavent to this case:

Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care v. Canada (Attorney general), 2014 FC 651 (CanLII)

Amnesty International and ESCR-Net Motion for Leave to Intervene

CCPI/CHC Written Representations for Leave to Intervene

CCPI/CHC was astonishingly denied standing on the critical Charter issues while Amnesty-ESCR-Net was granted Limited Standing to Intervene -- but prohibited from making the three key arguments they had proposed to make!

Decision of Gauthier J. on Intervention Applications

Memorandum of Amnesty International and ESCR-Net


Right to Health: Intervention in Chaoulli v. Quebec

SRAC coordinated CCPI's joint intervention with the Canadian Health Coalition at the Supreme Court of Canada on the right to health under international human rights law as it impacts on the interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Chaoulli case. (See the CCPI/CHC factum).

CCPI/CHC were the only interveners permitted to make oral argument in defence of an inclusive approach to the right to health.  International human rights require the EQUAL enjoyment of the right to heatlh, including for those who are poor and for whom private healthcare insurance would provide no alternative.


Bruce Porter, " A Right to Healthcare only if You Can Pay for it " (2005) 6 ESR Review.

Martha Jackman, "The Last Line of Defence for [Which?] Citizens" : Accountability, Equality and the Right to Health in Chaoulli(2006) 44 Osgoode Hall L.J. , 349-75. 

Access to Justice

Charter Challenge to Waive Fees for Humanitarian and Compassionate Review for Undocumented Immigrants Living in Poverty

see case update, memoranda of argument and other documents:

Toussaint v. Canada: Challenge to Refusal to Waive Fees for Poor People Applying for Humanitarian and Compassionate Review

SRAC co-ordinates the  Charter Committee on Poverty Issues which has actively promoted social and economic rights in Canada and internationally for two decades, intervening in more than a dozen cases at the Supreme Court of Canada .  

See the CCPI Memorandum filed June 29, 2010. 

CCPI Memorandum of Fact and Law FCA

Charter Claim to Advance Costs Awards

CCPI has 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 caseconcerns the discretion of the Courts to award advance costs to claimants who would otherwise be unable to litigate their public interest claims. The decision of the Supreme Court will have significant implications for access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalized groups.  See  Interveners Motion Record  and see the Factum of CCD,  CCPI, LEAF and PHRC in Caron

Trade and Investment and Human Rights:

Historic Challenge to Trade and Investment Agrement (NAFTA) fpr failing to Protect Human Rights: Charter Committee on Poverty Isses Challenge to NAFTA

CCPI applealed for leave to the Supreme Court of Canada in a challenge to the failure of NAFTA to adequately protect fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Leave was Denied. 

This is a case which needs to be argued again. The Charter challenge was found to be premature by the Ontario Court of Appeal and was not adequately considered. 

CCPI argued that it is unconstitutional to delegate the adjudication of significant public policy issues linked to the protection of human rights to trade and investment arbitral panel, without ensuring that fundamental human rights will be given parmaountcy as required under domestic law.

For more information and documents, click here.

Expert Evidence Provided in Social Rights and Test Case Litigation

Expert evidence was provided in the following recent cases:

· Denise Boulter et al. v Nova Scotia Poer Inc.., et al. ( NSUARB-P-886(3)) [access to utilities for the poor] 

· Keyvan Rasekhi Nejad, Malihe Shali, Komeil Rasekhi Nejad A Minor Under the Age of 18 Years by his Litigation Guardian Keyvan Rasekhi Nejad, And Soheil Rasekhi Nejad a Minor Under the Age Of 18 Years by his Litigation Guardian Keyvan Rasekhi Nejad v. Thomas Volpe and The General Accident Assurance Company Of Canada (Ontario Superior Court Of Justice Div. Ct. File No. 328/03) [access to justice for poor] 

· Andrew Graham et al. v. Ontario (Attorney General) et al Ontario Superior Court of Justice File No. 02-CV-232667CM3 [access to social assistance]

· Dale Broomer et al v. Ontario (Attorney General) et al , Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court) File No.: 420/0 [Charter challenge to lifetime ban from social assistance] 

· Ontario Municipal Board File No. R030064, OMB Decision No. 0569 (May 15, 2004) [challenge to zoning restrictions on shelters for homeless persons] 

· R. v. Clarke, [2003] O.J. No. 3883 (Ferrier, J.) [Court found that discriminatory attitudes about poor people are analogous to racial prejudice and constitute grounds for challenge for cause in jury selection] 

· Ontario Ministry of Public Safety and Security, Office of the Chief Coroner, Inquest Into the death of Kimberly Ann Rogers, (Verdict of the Jury released 19 December, 2002) [inquest into death of pregnant woman banned from receipt of public assistance upon conviction for fraud for attending university without disclosure, recommending increased social assistance rates and revoking of lifetime ban on receipt of assistance after conviction for welfare fraud]