Social Rights in Ontario: Adequate Food, Housing and Other Requirements of Dignity

The right to an adequate standard of living includes adequate food, clothing, housing and other things we need for a dignified life.  These are fundamental human rights in Ontario.

The right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing, housing and other requirements was recognized as a human right when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Since then this right has been recognized by Canada and all provinces when Canada signed and ratified UN human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and theConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The governments of Canada and of Ontario are required under international human rights law to protect and ensure the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to adequate housing, the right to food and other social rights.

Claiming Social Rights in Ontario

This website explains how we can use international human rights laws, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial law to claim and enforce the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to adequate food and the right to adequate housing.

There is no government office that will provide us with an adequate income simply because it is our human right. But like other human rights, social rights give us the power to challenge unfair rules, laws, programs or decisions that deny us our rights. Any government officials or tribunals making decisions that affect your housing or security must make “reasonable” decisions.  The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that this means your rights under international human rights and under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must be considered.

We can insist that governments and administrators consider the right to an adequate standard of living when they make decisions that affect our lives.

This website provides the documents you and your lawyer or representative need to claim and enforce your rights :

Over 400,000 people rely on emergency food banks every month in Ontario.  More and more families are homeless and living in shelters or “couch surfing.”  Homelessness and hunger cause ill health and even death.  They are violations of fundamental human rights. By standing up for our human rights, we can help put an end to poverty, hunger and homelessness.

This site has been produced by the Social Rights Advocacy Centre.

For more information about this site see the About  page.

Please note: no information on this site constitutes formal legal advice and a lawyer should be consulted.  Some of the documents on the site, however, will be useful to you or your lawyers in assisting you with claiming your social rights in Ontario.

We are grateful for the financial support of the Law Foundation of Ontario, While financially supported by The Law Foundation of Ontario, the findings of this research do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Further assistance has been gratefully received from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada in developing these resources.

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