Publications, opinions, and speeches


As the UN reviews Canada’s human rights record, Maytree’s submission focuses on strengthening the implementation of social and economic rights, concentrating on housing and income security

Published on 10/04/2023

Download the submission

In April 2023, Maytree made a submission to the United Nations as part of the Fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Canada. The UPR is a process where United Nations’ Member States are reviewed by their peers with respect to their progress in meeting their human rights obligations and commitments. At this stage of the process, civil society organizations from Member States under review are invited to make submissions for consideration.

Maytree’s submission to the fourth UPR of Canada focuses on developments related to recommendations from the last UPR and ways to strengthen the implementation of social and economic rights, concentrating on housing and income security. Our submission emphasizes that Canada’s commitments under international human rights law apply to all orders of government, and that implementation relies on legislation at each level.

To further the right to adequate housing in Canada, we recommend that:

  • The federal government should fully implement its commitment to progressively realize the right to adequate housing under the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) and align its National Housing Strategy with the requirements set out in the NHSA.
  • Federal agreements with provinces and territories under the National Housing Strategy should require compliance with the NHSA.
  • Canada should encourage provinces and territories to adopt legislation similar to the NHSA to ensure the coordinated implementation of the right to adequate housing.

To improve income security and support the right to an adequate standard of living, we recommend that:

  • Canada should require that human rights-based principles, standards, and accountability mechanisms are embedded into poverty reduction strategies across all orders of government and incorporated into agreements to fund social programs.
  • The federal government should exercise leadership in developing a national approach to ensuring the adequacy of social assistance levels in all provinces and territories.
  • Attention should be given to groups who are falling behind, such as working-age single adults and people with disabilities.

Lastly, to strengthen the implementation of human rights commitments and obligations across all orders of government, we recommend that:

  • Regular intergovernmental working group meetings must be held to implement recommendations from international human rights bodies, address ongoing implementation challenges, and embed human rights principles in policy.
  • Civil society organizations and people with lived experience of economic and social rights violations must also be part of the working group to continuously monitor the work of the intergovernmental body. In addition, local governments must be included in recognition of their important role in the implementation of many social services and programs.

Maytree looks forward to the review of Canada as part of the fourth UPR cycle. For more information about the UPR process and past recommendations made to Canada, please visit the United Nations Human Rights Council’s website  at:

Download the submission


Housing and homelessness, Human rights, Income security


If the progressive realization of economic and social rights is to be the North Star of Canadian social policy, it cannot be contingent on the actions of one government alone.