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May 11, 2006

UN Experts question Canada’s inaction on poverty, housing, aboriginal rights

[NB: People with disabilities excluded from laundry list of marginalized groups in Canada]

Please note that NAPO did not author the release...
It was written by the NGO team in Geneva.

May 8, 2006


GENEVA - “Many of the issues our committee raised in 1993 and 1998 are unfortunately still live issues today,” said Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay, a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights during the committee’s review of Canada’s performance. “Years later, the situation appears to be unchanged, and in some respects worse. There is continuing homelessness and reliance on food banks, security of tenure is not still not enjoyed by tenants, child tax benefits are still clawed back, (...) the situation of aboriginal peoples, migrants and people with disabilities doesn’t seem to be improving.”

“The Committee is right to challenge Canada to address the depth of poverty which has left the most marginalized people worse off than ever before. There are still too many people who are still denied adequate housing, a decent standard of living, and access to health and higher education,” said Aimée Clark, from the National Anti-Poverty Organization, one of the Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participating in the Committee review currently held in Geneva.

Several committee members were disturbed by the lack of investment in social programs and by continuing high poverty rates of the most marginalized (women, aboriginal peoples, people of colour and immigrants) *** [editor's comment: What about people with disability???] *** and wondered why this has happened when the government is enjoying budget surpluses year after year.

Canada was asked about a number of aboriginal issues, including the Six Nations and the Lubicon Nation land claims, and on-going issues about discrimination against women under the Indian Act. The Committee also expressed serious concern about the disproportionately high rates of violence (including murder) inflicted against Indigenous girls and women in Canada, and raised the correlation between high rates of homelessness among girls and sexual abuse in the home.

Today, Committee members are expected to ask further probing questions about Canada’s compliance. Issues to be covered include housing, social assistance, employment insurance, education and health. The committee also wants to know how Canada will improve accountability through domestic laws. “Economic and social rights must be enforceable rights, not just distant goals,” said Vince Calderhead with the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues. “That’s why we are pleased that the Committee is asking why our federal and provincial courts and human rights commissions don’t give enough consideration to economic and social rights and why governments continually deny they are accountable to economic, social and cultural rights in court.”

The Review began on Friday May 5th and will end today, May 8th. Participating in the review process are Canadian NGOs, representing the First nations, African Canadians, women, poor people as well as legal experts. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is expected to submit its concluding observations on May 19th, 2006.

For more information, please contact:

In Canada:

Dennis Howlett (National Anti-Poverty Organization); 613-889-0141
Beth Berton-Hunter (Amnesty International Canada) 416 363-9933 #32

In Geneva:

Josephine Gray, (Low-Income Families Together, LIFT) 416 827 7119

Release distributed by:

Dennis Howlett
Executive Director/directeur général
National Anti-Poverty Organization / l'Organisation nationale anti-pauvreté
1 Nicholas St., Suite 1210,
Ottawa ON K1N 7B7 Canada
tél 613.789.0096; toll free/sans frais 1.800.810.1076;
fax 613.789.0141


Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Thursday May 11, 2006, 5:49 am
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Barbara Anello
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