Canada violates UN Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural

Tom Boland (
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 21:04:50 -0400

FWD includes:
Sampling of the 81 UN questions to Canada, 10 June 1998.
found at

Author: Bob Olsen
Date: 1998/11/16
Forums: flora.mai-not


Monday, November 16, 1998

Canadian NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have asked the
United Nations to declare Canada to be in violation of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

They spoke to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights in Geneva, today.  The Canadian NGOs want the federal
government to restore CAP (the Canada Assistance Plan) which
would thus restore federal funding to the provinces.


1. Canada is reviewed every 5 years, by the UN Committee on
   Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for its' compliance with
   the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

2. Canada failed it's review in 1993

3. Canada submitted it's 1998 report, which is found in a series of
   documents (URLs) starting at:

4. On June 10, 1998, the UN Committee submitted to Canada a list
   of 81 questions which are available at:

   I have included a few of the UN questions below.

5. The government has responded to these 81 questions.
   The document is a public document.  The only problem
   is that the government is not eager to make that
   document available.

   I have emailed, phoned, faxed and written to my MP,
   Bill Graham, Toronto-Centre/Rosedale over the past
   six weeks asking for the government's response and
   I have had no reply.

6. I urge you to get the UN's 81 questions at:

   or by email from myself.

   Then, pick your favourite question and ask your MP
   to provide you with the Government's response.

   You may also want to look at the UN's 1993 report
   on Canada's compliance with the Covenant.

   Both documents are clear and concise.


Sampling of the 81 UN questions to Canada, 10 June 1998.
found at

1. What is the status of the Covenant in cases of conflict
   with federal, provincial and territorial legislation?
   Please provide information on the implementation of the
   Covenant by the courts in Canada.

17. Why were the standards and entitlements maintained in
    health care but not in social assistance?

18. Have provinces responded by cutting social assistance
    rates or entitlements? Please provide information from
    each province about changes that have occurred from April
    1995 to the present day, and any effect on the extent or
    depth of poverty.

21. Describe any monitoring procedures established by
    Governments as well as non-governmental agencies to
    measure the effect of the 40 per cent ($6 billion)
    cut in the amount of cash transferred by the Federal
    Government for social assistance, health and
    post-secondary education between April 1995 and the end
    of fiscal year 1992/2000. What common effects have become
    evident throughout Canada?

24. Please provide information on any provinces which require
    participation in "workfare" or similar programmes and
    describe the appeal procedures in place with respect to any
    disentitlement from basic necessities on this ground. Are
    these programmes applied to single parents and, if so, what
    exceptions apply? Is the Committee correct to assume that
    these programmes would have been illegal under CAP?

32. How does the Canadian Government explain the dramatic
    decreases in the percentage of unemployed workers receiving
    Employment Insurance benefits from 83 per cent in 1990 to
    43 per cent in 1997? Have the changes in the El programme
    disproportionately affected vulnerable groups in Canada?
    Has there been any decline in the number of women receiving
    maternity benefits?

33. In light of the surplus in the employment Insurance Programme
    that is expected to reach $20 billion by the end of 1998, has
    the Government considered expanding coverage?

37. The Committee has received information that food bank use has
    continued to increase in Canada and has approximately doubled
    over the last 10 years. Can the Government explain why the
    number and use of food banks has continued to increase? Does
    the Government consider the need for food banks in so affluent
    a country as Canada consistent with article 11 of the Covenant?

39. What proportion of children who use food banks go hungry and
    how often do parents go hungry?

41. Please provide any available data on the extent of homelessness
    in various cities in Canada. At what point would the Government
    consider homelessness in Canada to constitute a national emergency?

45. Could the Government of Ontario provide information as to how
    many households have been forced to move out or been evicted
    for non-payment of rent because of the cuts to social assistance?

48. According to the 1996 Report of the National Council of Welfare
    (Poverty Profile 1996), 91.3 per cent of families led by
    single-parent mothers under 25 live below the level of poverty.
    Child poverty is at a 17-year high of 20.9 per cent, meaning
    that nearly 1.5 million children live in poverty in Canada.
    Although the last recession ended in 1991, poverty rates have
    risen steadily since then. Please provide to the Committee the
    most up-to-date information on single parents, children, people
    with disabilities and Aboriginal people and explain how this
    unacceptable situation has been allowed to occur.

56. Please provide any information available on the particular health
    problems of the homeless, including tuberculosis rates, and
    identify any barriers faced by the homeless in getting access to
    appropriate health care.

69. Which programmes has the Ontario Government devolved to
    municipalities and what will be the effect on the province's
    ability to ensure compliance with the Covenant in these areas?

 Bob Olsen      Toronto   (:-)

 PLEASE NOTE my new email address.  Thanks.........!!

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