[Fwd: UN Press Release: "Canada not a third world country" -

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 15:07:29 -0400

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: UN Press Release:  "Canada not a third world country" -
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 15:02:54 -0400
From: "David Hulchanski, U of Toronto" <david.hulchanski@utoronto.ca>

“On homelessness, Ms. Evatt noted that Canada was not a third world 
country, but a prosperous one, and it ought not to be in a situation 
where homelessness could result in a risk to life. A little more 
needed to be done to protect the lives of people forced into 
-- UN Human Rights Committee, Press Conference, 9 April 1999.  

"12.  The Committee is concerned that homelessness has led to serious 
health problems and even to death.  The Committee recommends that the 
State party take positive measures required by article 6 to address 
this serious problem."  
-- UN Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observation on Canada


Canada, Human Rights and Homelessness

1.   TDRC,  12 April 1999  
2.   UN,  9 April 1999 



c/o 168 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5V 2R4
Ph-416-703-8482 x411   Fax-416-703-6190   Email-tdrc@hotbot.com   

For immediate release,  April 12, 1999



The United Nations Human Rights Committee, in a report to be released 
today, condemns Canada’s lack of action on homelessness.  The 
Committee, noting that “homelessness has led to serious heath 
problems and even to death,” calls on the federal and provincial 
governments to “take positive measures. . .  to address this serious 

In its review of Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant 
on Civil and Political Rights the UN also reminds the Liberal 
Government of its commitment to hold parliamentary hearings on 
homelessness and other the other human rights problems identified 
during the hearings in late March. 

“The federal government can’t wait six months or a year before 
holding parliamentary hearings,” says Cathy Crowe of the Toronto 
Disaster Relief Committee. “Homelessness is a national disaster. Here 
in Toronto, there are an average of two homeless people dying every 
week, and many others are dying across the country.” 

TDRC faxed an urgent request to Claudette Bradshaw, the Minister 
responsible for homelessness, calling on her to start the 
parliamentary hearings now. TDRC is asking that Paul Martin (Finance 
Minister), Alfonso Gagliano (Minister Responsible for Canada Mortgage 
and Housing Corporation) and Bradshaw be the first witnesses at the 
parliamentary hearings. “They should come prepared to set out funding 
and programs from the federal government to end homelessness in 
Canada,” says Crowe.  

TDRC submitted an 11-page report to the U.N. Committee called “Death 
on the Streets of Canada,” prepared by University of Toronto Prof. 
David Hulchanski, an expert on housing and homelessness. “As a direct 
result of governmental actions and inactions, tens of thousands of 
people have been forced into substandard housing, into overcrowded 
and inadequate temporary shelters for the homeless and onto the 
streets. Increased morbidity and death have followed,” says the TDRC 

Article 6(1) of the Covenant, which Canada signed in 1976, reads: 
“Every human being has the inherent right to life…. No one shall be 
arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Section 7 of Canada’s Charter of 
Rights and Freedoms also guarantees a similar protection for all 

For information:  Cathy Crowe / Kira Heineck, TDRC –  416 - 703-8482, 
ext. 117;   	Prof. David Hulchanski, U of Toronto –  416 - 978-1973




OHCHR/99/04/12/,  9 April 1999

[Here is the reference to Canada from the press conference ending the 
most recent sitting of the UN Human Rights Committee]

Asked to comment on the Committee's concluding observations about the 
Canadian report regarding aboriginal peoples, Ms. Evatt said that 
since the report had been prepared and Canada had met with the 
Committee, there had been reports about a Royal Commission on 
aboriginal peoples, which had recommended that the Government 
recognize the right of Canada's indigenous people to 

Since then, there had been a process to try to develop what that 
concept could mean for indigenous people within the sovereignty of 
Canada itself, she said. There had been some progress, but the 
Committee felt that Canada had to grasp the issue more firmly and 
carry it through to a conclusion that respected the right to self-
determination and the right of members of indigenous communities to 
maintain their language, culture and religions. That, in turn, was 
linked to land and the use of traditional resources.

With regard to the death of an indigenous activist, she told the same 
correspondent that the death of an apparently unarmed indigenous 
person in an incident involving a land claim, the responsibility of 
the federal government required that some further inquiry be made 
into the matter as to how that could have happened.

On homelessness, Ms. Evatt noted that Canada was not a third world 
country, but a prosperous one, and it ought not to be in a situation 
where homelessness could result in a risk to life. A little more 
needed to be done to protect the lives of people forced into 

What would be the Committee's next step? another correspondent asked. 
Ms. Quiroga said the concluding observations would be sent to the 
States and made public. They would go into the annual report of the 
Committee, which expected that the States receiving the concluding 
observations would take action to implement the Committee's 
recommendations. People within the countries could use the 
observations as an instrument to argue against measures that were not 
compatible with the Covenant and as a legal instrument to tell the 
State that it was not complying with its international obligations.




HR/CT/540   9 April 1999   Round-up of Session

As the Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its sixty-fifth 
session -- held at United Nations Headquarters from 22 March to 9 
April -- it adopted without a vote its concluding observations on 
reports submitted by Chile, Canada, Lesotho and Costa Rica under 
article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political 



In its concluding observations on Canada, the Committee urged that 
country to report adequately on implementation of article 1 of the 
Covenant: the right of all peoples to self-determination. The 
Committee noted that the situation of the aboriginal peoples was "the 
most pressing human rights issue facing Canadians". It recommended 
that decisive and urgent action be taken towards the full 
implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on 
Aboriginal Peoples on land and resource allocation. The Committee 
also recommended that the practice of extinguishing inherent 
aboriginal rights be abandoned as soon as possible. 

The Committee also expressed concern that there were gaps between the 
protection of rights under the Canadian Charter and other federal and 
provincial laws and the protection required under the Covenant. It 
recommended measures to ensure the full implementation of Covenant 
rights. It strongly urged Canada to establish a public enquiry into 
the death of an aboriginal activist who was shot by provincial police 
during a peaceful demonstration on land claims in September 1995. It 
recommended that Canada revise the policy of removal of aliens to 
countries where they might face torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading 
treatment in order to comply with requirements of the Covenant.

The Committee further recommended that Canada take steps to ensure 
the elimination of increasingly intrusive measures which affected the 
right of privacy of people relying on social assistance, including 
identification techniques such as fingerprinting and retinal 
scanning. Noting with concern that the State party had not secured 
freedom of association throughout its territory, the Committee 
recommended that measures be taken to ensure compliance with the 
Covenant. Concerned that many women had been disproportionately 
affected by poverty, the Committee also recommended a thorough 
assessment of the impact of recent changes in social programmes on 
women and that action be undertaken to redress any discriminatory 


The Committee

The Human Rights Committee was established to monitor the 
implementation of the Covenant and its related Protocols on the 
territory of the States parties. Its 18 members -- independent 
experts -- are persons of high moral character and recognized 
competence in the field of human rights and serve for a period of 
four years. The Committee meets three times a year for three week 
sessions which are normally held in March at Headquarters in New York 
and in July and November at the United Nations Office in Geneva,