"Social and Economic Rights" in the Canadian Human Rights Act

Getting "social and economic rights" in the Canadian Human Rights Act would be an acknowledgement that Canadians living on a low income have rights as impoverished people. It would go towards stopping people living on low income (the homeless, single mothers, people on welfare or other forms of government benefits and people working for low wages) from being abused by these kinds of discrimination:

  • trouble opening up a bank account because of ID requirements, minimum deposit requirements, credit checks;
  • trouble cashing a government cheque (e.g. welfare or pension) at the bank;
  • difficulty finding a bank in their neighbourhood;
  • having to pay a large security depost to the telephone company just because they are living on a low income;
  • hearing or seeing negative stories in the media about people living in poverty;
  • difficulty affording basic phone service.

Including "social and economic rights" in the Canadian Human Rights Act is only one part of ending discrimination against poor people. The Act should also be able to provide an way to challenge laws and practices that cause and maintain poverty. It should also recognize that groups as well as individuals need to be able to file human rights complaints if they are discriminated against because of their social condition.