Each year, more than 235,000 people are homeless in Canada yet social spending has declined, says Canada Without Poverty.

Each year, more than 235,000 people are homeless in Canada yet social spending has declined, says Canada Without Poverty.
Photo Credit: CBC

Social policy fails human rights pledges:activists


“Canada has completely divorced its social programs and policies from its human rights obligations,” argued the head of Canada Without Poverty before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Each year, more than 235,000 people are homeless, 3.4 million are food insecure, 850,000 use food banks each month and almost five million people live below “any acceptable measure of poverty,” says the advocacy group.

Harriet McLachlan told the UN committee that Canada is severely lagging in its international human rights obligations with regards to poverty.
Harriet McLachlan told the UN committee that Canada is severely lagging in its international human rights obligations with regards to poverty. © Leilani Farha/Canada Without Poverty

‘We’re asking for…basic necessities’

It argues that Canada’s social spending is at its lowest level since 1949, even though the World Bank ranks Canada as having the 11th highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the world.

“We’re asking for a national anti-poverty plan that is based in human rights, that’s going to look at the right to housing, the right to food, the right to clean water, the right to a lot of these basic necessities that keep us alive,” says Harriett McLachlan, president of Canada Without Poverty.


‘Some positive steps…but’

Canada had a change of government in October 2015. The new government has “taken some positive steps towards addressing poverty,” says the group’s news release, but it needs to commit to uphold human rights and provide sustained funding for social programs.

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2 comments on “Social policy fails human rights pledges:activists
  1. Avatar jeff donaldson says:

    canada need to also look into w.s.i.b. & there corrupt ways of treating & putting injured workers in poverty!,..over 90% of injured workers on wsib are abused ,ignored & forced into poverty because of the greedy xxxxx at w.s.i.b., maybe canada needs to start looking after it’s own people for a change instead of trying to look good & helping all the other countries!,typical government always concerned about how they look to the world, but could not care less about the people they are actually suppose to be there for & there rights & money! while they all live in high class on our $ !

  2. I support the idea that each responsible, law-abiding adult in Canada be given a basic income that would enable them to access good food and safe shelter. I support the idea of UBI, also called by other names, ie. unconditional basic income, citizen’s income, universal income, guaranteed income. I think such an income should be individual rather than an amount issued to a family or community because that could be the only way a person would have the resourses to leave an abusive relationship that might exist in a relationship or within a family or a community group.