Canada fails to meet economic and social rights obligations, United Nations told

Canada is going backwards on its commitments to implement the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a network of Canadian non-governmental organizations say in presentations they will make to a UN Committee on May 1.

Social and economic rights

Though Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world with low unemployment and record Federal budget surpluses, too many people are being denied the human rights guaranteed by the Covenant, such as the rights to an adequate standard of living, to social security, to housing, to food, to health, and fair working conditions including fair wages. Disproportionate numbers of Aboriginal people, women, people with disabilities, people of colour, refugees and youth experience poverty and other rights violations in Canada today.

Over 25 representatives of non-governmental groups will be presenting their evidence to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which meets in Geneva beginning on May 1. The damning evidence includes: welfare rates that in some provinces are only 20% to 30% of the poverty line, those in dire need being denied welfare, minimum wages that fall thousands of dollars below the poverty line, even for a single person working full time, an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 people who are homeless and over 800,000 needing to use food banks each month.

The Canadian government will appear before the Committee on May 5 and 8. The Committee is expected to issue its Concluding Observations including recommendations on what needs to be done to improve Canada’s human rights compliance on or shortly after May 19.

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