United Nations review tells Canada to step up to end poverty, homelessness, and inequality


GENEVA – The countries responsible for reviewing Canada’s human rights record for the third Universal Period Review (UPR) issued a list of recommendations focusing on addressing the inequalities and socioeconomic disparities facing Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, and other marginalized communities.

Among these recommendations, a number of states called for Canada to take immediate steps to address poverty, end discriminatory practices and service provision, and ratify necessary international conventions, including the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The UPR is a process where members of the UN face a peer-review process that looks at all areas of compliance under international human rights treaties. A broad coalition of anti-poverty and grassroots human rights organizations contributed to the review through a joint submission led by Canada Without Poverty (CWP). At the Pre-session to the UPR, civil society organizations raised a number of concerns including the lack of progress on violence against women, and income security, particularly for racialized persons, and the inequity seen in services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

The delegation from South Africa specifically called for the Government of Canada to work towards the justiciability of social, economic and cultural rights, adopt adequate measures to prevent homelessness, and end the criminalization of people living in poverty, key components to destigmatizing and ultimately ending poverty, and would place Canada in line with their commitment to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The approach to human rights and international engagement in general has improved,” said Laura Cattari, CWP’s Board President. “However, that engagement at the international level does not yet correspond with action on the ground, especially around key human rights like the right to housing and the right to an adequate standard of living.”

“We can see that our peers at the global level, like Mexico, are calling for us to meet our obligations under international human rights law by ensuring we have truly universal access to healthcare, employment, and education through the collection of disaggregated data, but our Government continues to make policy commitments that only get us halfway there,” said Deputy Director for CWP, Harriett McLachlan.

“With nearly five million people living in poverty, Canada facing a human rights emergency, and we must act now,” she continued. “We are awaiting the launch of Canada’s first poverty reduction strategy, and it is essential that the Government of Canada heed the recommendations calling for this strategy to utilize a human rights framework and meet our obligations under international human rights law.”

“We welcome the call from several delegations for Canada to ratify the Optional Protocol on the CRPD and the willingness by the Government of Canada to work towards that ratification,” said Ms. Cattari. “As a person with a lived experience of both poverty and disability, I know how much having a domestic mechanism to access my human rights and push for full accessibility would change our system for the better.”

Civil society awaits the release of the full report of recommendations which will occur on May 15.


About Canada Without Poverty

Canada Without Poverty (CWP) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, and charitable organization dedicated to ending poverty in Canada. The organization was created in 1971 as an outcome of the Poor People’s Conference, a national gathering of low-income individuals, under the name National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO). For over 40 years, CWP has been championing the rights of individuals experiencing poverty and marginalization through research, awareness-building campaigns, public policy development, and educational programming. See more at: www.cwp-csp.ca.

For more information or interview requests, please contact:

Laura Neidhart
Canada Without Poverty – Communications Coordinator
Phone: 613-293-2446 | Email:  ynhen@pjc-pfc.pn

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