The “Social Rights Ontario” website is one component of a larger legal research and education project funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario. The research includes published papers, educational pamphlets, workshops and the collection of materials provided on this website.
The research project is collaborative in nature and brings together practitioners, organizations and community members who have worked in areas relating to social rights particularly in housing, poverty and food security. Some of the project’s work is also supported and supplemented by a five-year research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) into Social Rights in Canada.
Major support for the project also comes from the Social Rights Advocacy Centre (SRAC) which is a not-for-profit research and advocacy centre specializing in the area of social rights. SRAC partners with the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) a non-profit organization specializing in human rights in housing, and Canada Without Poverty, previously the National Anti-Poverty Organization, for a number of the components of the research.
Our research seeks to consider the relationship between law, human rights and the crisis of poverty and homelessness in Ontario. It addresses growing concerns internationally and domestically that international human rights law is not being applied or adequately considered in relation to provincial and municipal law and decision-making, particularly in the area of economic, social and cultural rights to adequate housing, income and food.
The goal of this website in particular, is to provide resources to practitioners, decision-makers, governments and communities on how to apply and interpret provincial law consistently with international human rights obligations, and in a manner that will help eliminate the crisis of homelessness and poverty in Ontario (and beyond). Despite a lack of explicit legislative provisions to protect social rights in Ontario, there are many areas of provincial law in which international human rights norms can and should be used to enhance social rights protections. This site provides/contains relevant international law as well as existing provincial legislation, institutions, and jurisprudence in Ontario that can be used to ensure the application of social rights and a human rights framework in provincial law and policy making. Where the necessary protections are lacking in provincial law and institutions, we will identify the gaps that need to be filled.
For ease of use, this site provides links to, and brief outlines of, primary sources relating to social rights (for example United Nations reports). Documents compiling substantive original research are also available and focus on three particular areas of social rights in Ontario:
i) Housing: Research highlights the potential application of human rights legislation to homelessness among protected groups, including social assistance recipients. The Social Housing Reform Act and the Landlord and Tenant Act are reviewed for provisions which may be a basis for affirming a right to housing, and for relevant areas of discretion.
ii) Poverty (Income Assistance): Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program. Provisions providing for discretion or interpretation which should be made consistent with international human rights are identified.
For more information on initiatives relating to social rights at a provincial, federal, or international level please visit the websites of our major partners:
Many thanks go to the Law Foundation of Ontario for their generous support.