Poverty and human rights

Poverty and human rights overview

Human rights are inherent in all people. Everyone has the right to live in dignity and to participate fully in society.

Poverty denies people these rights. Specifically, poverty affects economic and social rights – those rights that relate to the workplace, social security, and access to housing, food, water, health care and education.

When, as a society, we allow poverty to persist, we fail to protect these basic human rights.

Our work in finding systemic solutions to poverty includes a commitment to safeguard these rights. We explore the link between poverty and human rights, including finding approaches that can better protect economic and social rights.


Relevant publications


Published on 22/08/2018

The four key features of the national poverty reduction strategy, and what to look out for as it is implemented.

On August 21, the federal government launched Opportunity for All, the first Canada-wide poverty reduction strategy. While some coverage highlighted the lack of new policies, programs, or investments, the strategy does set out a framework for the federal government’s poverty reduction efforts, through values, targets, transparency, and accountability. Here are four important features of the […]

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Published on 12/01/2018

By strengthening the Ontario Human Rights Code, we offer protection to those most affected by the gaps in our systems.

In Ontario, we think it is okay to discriminate against poor people. That doesn’t sound right, does it? But it’s true. According to a recent survey conducted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission on discriminatory attitudes toward particular groups, people experiencing poverty received more negative evaluations than any other group. Only 39 per cent of […]

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Published on 15/08/2017

To put poverty behind us, we must support the best instincts of Canadians, harness our values of equality of opportunity and human dignity, and turn these values into actions.

Maytree and The Philanthropist started our series on Poverty and Human Rights in Canada a little more than a year ago. For us, it was an opportunity to explore ideas about solving poverty using a human rights approach, and to share them with other organizations working in this field. Human rights include civil, political, economic, and social rights. These […]

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Published on 31/05/2017

Building a robust culture of economic and social rights will involve changing our rules, values and behaviours.

With all the commotion around the Charter’s 35th birthday this year, you would be forgiven for thinking that human rights in Canada are a fait accompli. You would also be forgiven for, upon reading the words “human rights” just now, thinking first and foremost of the civil and political rights that our constitution explicitly sets […]

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Published on 02/05/2017

The City of Toronto is trampling on thousands of its citizens' human rights by failing to invest in repairs to crumbling community housing stock.

Toronto city council and its mayor are closing more than 400 units of city-owned social housing because they are in poor condition. They’ve identified another 17,000 units in bad repair that are at risk of being closed if nothing is done to fix them. In the case of the 400 units, the mayor and council […]

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Published on 07/03/2017

This submission was made to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities A Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy can make an important contribution by establishing foundational principles that will inform the policies of current and future governments at all levels, as well as civil society. This […]

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