Canada: anti-poverty & human rights activists take case to UN FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 15 Nov 1998 00:21:39 -0400


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http://www.canoe.ca/TopStories/poverty_nov10.html
FWD  Tuesday, November 10, 1998

ANTI-POVERTY ACTIVISTS TAKE CASE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Anti-poverty activists take case to the United Nations

By Kevin McGran -- The Canadian Press

TORONTO (CP) -- Anti-poverty and human rights groups are turning to the
United Nations to help improve the plight of the poor and homeless in
Canada.

Low Income Families Together, the National Anti-Poverty Organization, the
Charter Committee on Poverty Issues and Nova Scotia Legal Aid are heading
to Geneva to argue Nov. 16 to a UN committee that Canada is in violation of
a 1976 covenant on human rights.

Josephine Grey of the Low Income group says Canada's scaling back of laws
and benefits for the poor and underprivileged has left anti-poverty
advocates with little option but to air the country's problems on the world
stage.

"We know the United Nations isn't in any position to enforce (the
covenant)," said Grey. "But we also know Canada is very sensitive to its
international reputation."

Canada recently won a coveted spot on the UN's Security Council and the has
been named by the UN as the best country to live in for the past six years.

But life may not be as rosy as the UN survey found. A recently released
Indian Affairs study said off-reserve aboriginals came in about 35th and
on-reserve natives rank about 63rd in the world, putting their standard of
living in Canada at the same level as Mexico's and Thailand's.

The Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards recently said
anyone who has tried to measure Canadians' quality of life has found it's
worsened considerably during the 1990s, even though the economy has bounced
back from the last recession.

Grey said it was "a disgrace" that there are 1.4 million Canadian children
-- about one in five -- living in poverty, an increase of more than 500,000
since 1995.

The groups blame belt-tightening governments that scaled back welfare and
restrictions on workers compensation and employment insurance for rising
poverty and homelessness.

"You can't as a country take a massive U-turn," said Grey. "Especially an
affluent country."

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will also hear
from representatives of Canadian governments on Nov. 26 and 27.

Foreign affairs spokesman Sean Rowan said the federal government takes its
obligations under the UN covenant very seriously.

It recognizes "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living . .
. including adequate food, clothing and housing."

But Grey says governments in Canada -- especially the federal and Ontario
governments -- are in violation of the covenant, which calls for the use of
maximum resources available to fight poverty.

"Housing, health, education, labour rights and a healthy environment are
all included in the covenant," she said. "Wealthy nations like Canada are
expected to take steps toward meeting the goals of the covenant, but since
Canada last reported in 1993, it has taken many steps backward."

Rowan responded by saying that submissions by people like the Low Income
group are part of the process.

Representatives from across Canada appealing before the UN include Grey;
Pamela Coates, president of the National Anti-Poverty Organization; Bruce
Porter of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues; and Vince Calderhead of
Nova Scotia Legal Aid.

END FORWARD
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distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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http://www.canoe.ca/TopStories/poverty_nov10.html

FWD  Tuesday, November 10, 1998


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>ANTI-POVERTY ACTIVISTS TAKE CASE
TO THE UNITED NATIONS

Anti-poverty activists take case to the United Nations


By Kevin McGran -- The Canadian Press

</paraindent>

TORONTO (CP) -- Anti-poverty and human rights groups are turning to the
United Nations to help improve the plight of the poor and homeless in
Canada. 


Low Income Families Together, the National Anti-Poverty Organization,
the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues and Nova Scotia Legal Aid are
heading to Geneva to argue Nov. 16 to a UN committee that Canada is in
violation of a 1976 covenant on human rights. 


Josephine Grey of the Low Income group says Canada's scaling back of
laws and benefits for the poor and underprivileged has left
anti-poverty advocates with little option but to air the country's
problems on the world stage. 


"We know the United Nations isn't in any position to enforce (the
covenant)," said Grey. "But we also know Canada is very sensitive to
its international reputation." 


Canada recently won a coveted spot on the UN's Security Council and the
has been named by the UN as the best country to live in for the past
six years. 


But life may not be as rosy as the UN survey found. A recently released
Indian Affairs study said off-reserve aboriginals came in about 35th
and on-reserve natives rank about 63rd in the world, putting their
standard of living in Canada at the same level as Mexico's and
Thailand's. 


The Ottawa-based Centre for the Study of Living Standards recently said
anyone who has tried to measure Canadians' quality of life has found
it's worsened considerably during the 1990s, even though the economy
has bounced back from the last recession. 


Grey said it was "a disgrace" that there are 1.4 million Canadian
children -- about one in five -- living in poverty, an increase of more
than 500,000 since 1995. 


The groups blame belt-tightening governments that scaled back welfare
and restrictions on workers compensation and employment insurance for
rising poverty and homelessness. 


"You can't as a country take a massive U-turn," said Grey. "Especially
an affluent country." 


The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will also hear
from representatives of Canadian governments on Nov. 26 and 27. 


Foreign affairs spokesman Sean Rowan said the federal government takes
its obligations under the UN covenant very seriously. 


It recognizes "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living
. . . including adequate food, clothing and housing." 


But Grey says governments in Canada -- especially the federal and
Ontario governments -- are in violation of the covenant, which calls
for the use of maximum resources available to fight poverty. 


"Housing, health, education, labour rights and a healthy environment
are all included in the covenant," she said. "Wealthy nations like
Canada are expected to take steps toward meeting the goals of the
covenant, but since Canada last reported in 1993, it has taken many
steps backward." 


Rowan responded by saying that submissions by people like the Low
Income group are part of the process. 


Representatives from across Canada appealing before the UN include
Grey; Pamela Coates, president of the National Anti-Poverty
Organization; Bruce Porter of the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues;
and Vince Calderhead of Nova Scotia Legal Aid.


END FORWARD

- 

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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