International Human Rights Day Message

Download: International Human Rights Day Message from LIFT

Canada continues to neglect basic human rights

International Human Rights Day Message from ngo’s across Canada

The right to an adequate standard of living, to healthcare, to fair working conditions, the right to education, without discrimination, these are rights contained on the Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural rights signed 30 years ago by Federal and Provincial governments in Canada. Yet though Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, cutbacks and the downloading of responsibility over the past decade have undermined or denied these rights to far too many people living in Canada.

A network of social justice organizations are gathering evidence from communities across Canada to inform a non government report to the Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR). The UNCESCR will be reviewing Canada’s record of compliance with the Covenant in May 2006. The governments have submitted their reports which attempt to paint a picture of progress with basic human rights. A number of non government reports are being prepared to reveal the reality of human rights conditions facing vulnerable Canadians such as recent immigrants, native people, families living in poverty and others, based on research and local consultation.

In an era of surpluses and economic growth it is time to hold our governments accountable to the reality that nothing has been done to repair most of the damage done by a decade of neglect. Recent reports such as the Campaign 2000 report card on child poverty and tragic events such as the evacuation of reserves due to polluted water, and the growing problem of violence in urban areas indicate that problems of poverty and neglect continue to grow and fester.

In 1998 the UN committee concluded that Canada was failing to meet it’s human rights obligations and that much of the damage done to poor people in Canada was unnecessary. The committee of experts from around the world recommended that Canada reintroduce national standards for social programs and a national housing program, and address the crises occurring in the poorest communities, but the people most in need have seen no tangible results.

Those of us concerned about rebuilding a healthy society are speaking out in communities across Canada to remind voters to pay close attention to how governments plans to repair the damage of the past decade and live up to their primary duty to respect the human rights of all Canadians.