From National Standards to Justiciable Rights: Enforcing International Social and Economic Guarantees Through Charter of Rights Review
14 Journal of Law and Social Policy 69-90, 1999
23 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2015
Date Written: 1999
The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended, in its 1998 review of Canada's compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, that social and economic rights be recognized and enforceable under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In this article, the author discusses the merits and viability of such an approach. The first part of the paper describes the rights guarantees contained in the ICESCR. The second part of the paper reviews the recent direction in federal and provincial welfare policy and suggests that the loss of national welfare standards, following the repeal of the Canada Assistance Plan in 1996, has dramatically increased the need for judicial recognition and enforcement of socio-economic rights in Canada. The third part of the paper examines Canadian lower court and Supreme Court of Canada case law in this area. The paper concludes that the Charter can indeed serve as an invaluable mechanism for recognizing and enforcing rights to food, housing, health care, social security and other fundamental socio-economic rights in Canada.
Keywords: human rights, international law, Canada, social, economic, cultural, Charter of Rights, ICESCR, welfare, Canada Assistance Plan, courts
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