For immediate release
OTTAWA (22 February 2016) – Earlier today, Canada Without Poverty’s (CWP) President, Harriett McLachlan delivered a grave account to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on the current state of poverty in Canada. Following the tradition as the first non-government organization in the world, McLachlan joined fellow civil society organizations (CSO) and Indigenous groups in voicing concern for the various human rights violations faced by millions across Canada, daily.
Currently 235,000 people are visibly homeless each year, 3.4 million are food insecure, 850,000 use food banks each month and one in seven people in Canada are living in poverty. As the country with the eleventh highest Gross Domestic Product, Canada is severely lagging in its international human rights obligations.
McLachlan stated, “Although I’m an educated professional, I lived most of my life in poverty. It is clear to me that Canada does not connect poverty, homelessness or food insecurity with human rights. Paragraph 3 in Canada’s response to the list of issues is clear, in the Government’s opinion, my right to an adequate standard of living, to adequate housing and food, is not protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They have closed the door on people living in poverty, denying us access to justice.”
Today, before even hearing from the Government, – Canada will formally address the Committee on February 24th and 25th – the United Nations Committee members voiced concerns regarding Canada’s failure to implement economic and social rights. In particular, the Committee noted questions on Canada’s falling social spending (the lowest as a percentage of GDP since 1949), rising rates of poverty and outcomes of existing programs. The Committee were noticeably concerned that economic and social rights were not protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
CWP’s Executive Director, Leilani Farha added, “the Trudeau Government has taken some positive steps towards addressing poverty, but without a commitment to human rights and an adequate, sustained funding on the table, the rights of nearly 5 million people in poverty cannot be fulfilled.”
CWP’s President, Executive Director and Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, will be in attendance throughout the review and are looking forward to hearing the Government’s proposals to address continued human rights violations and assist the most vulnerable.
For more information:
Canada Without Poverty