Looking Forward on Human Rights Day 2014

Since Human Rights Day 2013, we’ve had many reasons to feel discouraged about Canada’s human rights track record, particularly in relation to people living in poverty. However, among all the frustration, we should recognize the steps, stories and actions that have been taken over the past year toward human rights. It’s these incremental steps – sometimes big and sometimes small – toward a Canada that respects all persons’ inherent human rights that give us hope.

To commemorate Human Rights Day 2014, we here at CWP have decided to focus on what inspires us as we move forward into the New Year. Here are a just a few of the highlights of the past 365 days:

  1. The government of Saskatchewan’s announcement that they intend to create a poverty plan. This is a big win for anti-poverty advocates like Poverty Costs and Upstream who have been working tirelessly to encourage the provincial government to adopt a plan. Saskatchewan’s announcement means that there is only one province or territory remaining without a plan or any intention to create a plan.
  1. The movement that is gaining momentum for British Columbia to commit to addressing poverty. British Columbia has no anti-poverty plan or intention to create a plan. But allies such as BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and First Call BC are working hard to change this. We’re inspired further by the politicians who have joined the movement, such as BC MLA Michelle Mungall, who has tabled a Bill to address poverty in the province.
  1. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s effort to think big in Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy where the provincial government vowed to end homelessness. While we have yet to see any concrete action toward this goal, we’re hopeful that it will lead to real action, and continue to encourage the Premier to announce concrete policies in the year ahead.
  1. We are not alone in the fight to end poverty. Campaigns like Up For Debate, Keep the Promise, Campaign 2000 and ChewOnThis!, have united communities and individuals across Canada this year, with the common goal of addressing poverty, particularly for marginalized groups.
  1. Canada Without Poverty’s Executive Director, Leilani Farha was appointed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing. Leilani joins two other Canadians with similar appointments: Chief Wilton Littlechild, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and François Crépeau, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. Leilani acts as an independent expert responsible for monitoring the status of the right to adequate housing globally, responding to alleged violations of this right, and reviewing the housing conditions in different corners of the world.
  1. More and more local communities around the world are embracing human rights within local government policy. For example, the city of Seoul in South Korea created a publication entitled Seoul, A City Where Human Rights is Alive aimed at mainstreaming human rights within local government policy. Like the Human Rights City project in Edmonton, the movement for local communities to implement human rights is gaining steam across the world.
  1. Although the courts and federal government have failed to consider the rights of people living in poverty in cases such as Bill C-43 and the Right to Housing case, the community has come together many times to work toward a common goal. We’ve had the opportunity to work with many fantastic organizations this year as we strive to urge Canada to protect the human rights of our most marginalized communities.

We’re wondering: what is it that gives you hope that Canada can move forward and become a country that embraces human rights for everyone, particularly those who are living in poverty? Fill out the form below to share your thoughts:

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