Legal Strategies

On various occasions, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and other UN bodies have noted the prevalence of homelessness and inadequate living conditions; high rates of poverty among single mothers and children; evidence of families being forced to relinquish their children to foster care because of their inability to provide adequate housing or other necessities; inadequate welfare entitlements; growing reliance on food banks; widespread discrimination in housing; and inadequate protection of security of tenure for low-income households. The CESCR expressed “concern about the persistence of poverty” in Canada, particularly that “[t]here seems to have been no measurable progress in alleviating poverty…nor in alleviating the severity of poverty among a number of particularly vulnerable groups.”[1] The Committee has also pointed to the unavailability of affordable and appropriate housing and widespread discrimination with respect to housing.  It noted that provincial social assistance rates and other income assistance measures have clearly not been adequate to cover rental costs of the poor.  Concern has also been expressed about barriers to access justice and the lack of availability of effective remedies for human rights violations.  These concerns highlighted by international bodies represent a violation of human rights guaranteed under both domestic law and international law.

When the Government of Ontario fails to respond, in good faith, to the concerns and recommendations of UN human rights monitoring bodies such as these, and when political efforts fail to  prompt the Government of Ontario to adopt reasonable measures towards the universal realization of these rights in Ontario, strategic litigation can be used to claim these  rights and to hold the provincial government to account on a broader systemic level.  International and domestic law (jurisprudence) can be used in formulating litigation strategies before Courts and Tribunals.  Click on the following links to see how domestic and international law can be used to formulate legal arguments within a human rights-based framework.

 

Domestic Jurisprudence:

  1.     Right to an adequate standard of living (food, clothing, housing)
  2.     Right to physical and mental health
  3.     Right to social security
  4.     Right to protection of mothers and children
  5.     Right to non-discrimination
  6.     Right to life, liberty and security of the person
  7.     Rights of children to necessary measures of protection
  8.     Right to an effective remedy
  9.     Right to participate/to procedural fairness 
  10.     Reasonableness ( Right to a reasonable policy/program) (section 36(1))

 

International Jurisprudence:

  1.     Right to an adequate standard of living (food, clothing, housing)
  2.     Right to physical and mental health
  3.     Right to social security
  4.     Right to special protection of mothers and children
  5.     Right to non-discrimination
  6.     Right to life, liberty and security of the person
  7.     Right to an effective remedy
  8.     Right to participate/to procedural fairness 
  9.     Right to freely chosen work under just and favorable conditions
  10.     Reasonableness ( Right to a reasonable policy/program) 
[1] United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant: Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Canada, UNCESCROR, 1993, UN Doc E/C.12/1993/5 [Concluding Observations 1993] at para 12.

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