Human Rights and Housing Groups see positive signs in Supreme Court Poverty Decision (Gosselin)Tuesday, December 24 2002
Human Rights and Housing Groups see positive signs in Supreme Court Poverty Decision (Gosselin)
The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and Ottawa-based Barriers Elimination Working Group believe that while this case leaves many issues important to low income people undecided, it takes steps in the right direction.
The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation believes this judgment sends a strong signal to governments in Canada: That the levels and conditions of welfare assistance set by governments are subject to Charter scrutiny and that they have to take claims of low income people on these issues seriously. For the first time, some members of the court have indicated that Canada has a legal obligation to provide adequate social assistance under the Charter. We anticipate using this judgment to support further claims to ensure that the rights of those most in need are protected and that governments take meaningful steps to eliminate poverty and homelessness in Canada.
Louise Gosselin v. Quebec is the first case where the Supreme Court of Canada has considered whether it is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to deny low income people adequate welfare which results in homelessness, hunger and deprivation of other basic needs.
The increase in these types of deprivations in so wealthy a country as Canada has been criticized by United Nations human rights bodies in recent years as violations of international human rights law, but this is the first case in which Canada's highest court has considered whether such actions also violate Canadians' rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Ottawa-based Barriers Elimination Working Group and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation have closely followed this case and are pleased that the Court indicated that it is open and willing to continue to examine claims similar to that launched by Louise Gosselin. Low income people across Canada will surely take up this challenge.
The Ottawa-based Barriers Elimination Working Group has been working since 1999 on addressing barriers that impact on the ability of low-income people to obtain and retain housing. The group is composed of people from a broad range of community members including housing advocates, tenants, and area landlords. Recently the group identified social assistance rates as one of the most significant barriers facing low-income tenants in Ottawa.
CERA - the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation is a non-profit human rights organization that promotes human rights in housing. CERA works to remove the barriers that keep disadvantaged individuals and families from accessing and retaining the housing they need. CERA has become a world leader in using both domestic and international human rights law to address issues of homelessness and poverty. CERA works collaboratively with non-governmental organizations in Canada and in other countries to promote and enforce economic and social rights.
For further information:
Candice BealeAnti-poverty Activist and Social Assistance Recipient(613) 789.2228
Chris LaidlerRooming House Landlord(613) 729.7703
Daniel Gagnon, Community Legal ServicesCo-chair Barrier Elimination Group(w) (613) 241-7008
Sherrie Tingley, Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation(w) (613) 789.2228(h) (613 (728.4276
Leilani FarhaExecutive Director/Women's Program ManagerCERA - Centre for Equality Rights in AccommodationTel: (519) 252.9301
Professor David WisemanUniversity of Windsor, Faculty of LawAreas of focus: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Poverty; Socialand Economic Human Rights;Tel: (519) 253.3000 Ext. 2970