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Law Civil Rights

Advancing Social Rights in Canada

contributions by Martha Jackman, Bruce Porter, Vincent Greason, Barbara Cameron, Marie-Eve Sylvestre, Céline Bellot, Kerri A. Froc, Gwen Brodsky, Shelagh Day, Yvonne Peters, Claire McNeil, Vincent Calderhead, Constance MacIntosh, Alana Klein, Lorne Sossin, Andrea Hill, Sylvie Paquerot, Graham Mayeda & Margot Young

Irwin Law Inc.
Initial publish date
Aug 2014
Civil Rights, Constitutional
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    Aug 2014
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Canada is at a crossroads. The gap between our national self-image as a country that respects human rights and the reality of socio-economic inequality and exclusion demands a re-engagement with the international human rights project and a recommitment to the values of social justice and equality affirmed in the early years of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This book sketches a blueprint for reconceiving and retrieving social rights in diverse spheres of human rights practice in Canada, both political and legal. Leading academics and activists explore how the Charter and administrative decision making should protect social rights to health, housing, food, water and the environment; how homelessness and anti-poverty strategies could incorporate international and constitutional rights; how the federal spending power, fiduciary obligations towards Aboriginal people, and substantive equality for women and people with disabilities, can become tools for securing social rights; and how social protest movements can interact with courts and urban spaces to create new loci for social rights claims.

This book provides inspiration as well as an indispensable resource for all those who share an interest in advancing human rights and social justice in Canada.

About the authors

Martha Jackman, Professor, Faculty of Law, French Common Law Program, University of Ottawa and Co-Director (Academic) of the SSHRC-CURA Research Project “Reconceiving Human Rights Practice,” online:


Martha Jackman's profile page

Bruce Porter, Executive Director, Social Rights Advocacy Centre and Co-Director (Community) of the SSHRC-CURA Research Project “Reconceiving Human Rights Practice,” online:


Bruce Porter's profile page

Coordinator, Table ronde des organismes volontaires d’éducation populaire de l’Outaouais (TROVEPO) and Research Partner in the SSHRC-CURA Research Project “Reconceiving Social Rights Practice,” online:


Vincent Greason's profile page

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Department of Equity Studies, York University and Research Partner in the SSHRC-CURA Research Project “Reconceiving Human Rights Practice,” online:


Barbara Cameron's profile page

Marie-Eve Sylvestre, Associate Professor, Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa.


Marie-Eve Sylvestre's profile page

Céline Bellot, Associate Professor, École de service social, Université de Montréal.


Céline Bellot's profile page

PhD (Candidate), Faculty of Law, Queen’s University, Trudeau and Vanier Scholar.


Kerri A. Froc's profile page

Gwen Brodsky is a leading national and international expert on human rights law, with graduate degrees from Harvard Law School and Osgoode Hall. She practises, teaches, and writes in the areas of human rights and constitutional law and she has acted as counsel in many Charter equality rights cases. An adjunct professor in the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, she has taught a course on social and economic rights and the Charter. Dr. Brodsky has written extensively about equality rights theory, the Charter, and access to justice problems experienced by members of disadvantaged groups. She is a Director of the Poverty and Human Rights Centre and she was LEAF’s first Litigation Director.


Gwen Brodsky's profile page

Shelagh Day is a well-known Canadian human rights expert and advocate. She is a Director of the Poverty and Human Rights Centre, whose central goal is to strengthen the human rights of the poorest women. She is also the publisher of the Canadian Human Rights Reporter, the leading law reporter on statutory human rights in Canada, and the co-author of two books and numerous articles on women’s equality rights: Women and the Equality Deficit is the leading study of the impact on women of restructuring Canada’s social programs, and One Step Forward, Two Steps Back was the first examination of how the Charter’s equality rights guarantee works for women. With extensive experience in the international field, Shelagh Day has appeared on behalf of Canadian women before United Nations treaty bodies examining Canada’s compliance with its international human rights obligations. She is the former Director of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, the first President of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), and a founder of the Court Challenges Program. In addition, she was a Vice-President of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC) at the time of the Charlottetown Constitutional Talks. Currently, Shelagh Day is the Special Advisor on Human Rights to the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL), and the Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).


Shelagh Day's profile page

Yvonne Peters, Chairperson, Board of Commissioners, Manitoba Human Rights Commission; Co-Principal Investigator for the SSHRC-CURA Project “Disabling Poverty/ Enabling Citizenship” and Research Collaborator in the SSHRC-CURA Project “Reconceiving Human Rights Practice,” online:


Yvonne Peters' profile page

Claire McNeil, Staff Lawyer, Dalhousie Legal Aid Services.


Claire McNeil's profile page

Vince Calderhead, Senior Staff Counsel, Nova Scotia Legal Aid.


Vincent Calderhead's profile page

Constance MacIntosh (LLB, Osgoode; MA, Alberta) practised Aboriginal law for several years before joining the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, where she has taught Aboriginal law for a decade. She is currently the Director of Dalhousie’s Health Law Institute. Much of her research is about how Canadian law intersects with the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada. She recently completed work as an expert panel member for the Council of Canadian Academics for a report on Food Security in Northern Canada, and as a member of the Independent Panel advising the Nova Scotia government on hydraulic fracking.


Constance MacIntosh's profile page

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University.


Alana Klein's profile page

Lorne Sossin, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., LL.B., LL.M., J.S.D. is a Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, where he has been teaching since 2002. Prior to that, he was on the faculty of Osgoode Hall Law School. At the University of Toronto, he is a former Associate Dean (2004–2007) and is the inaugural Academic Director of the Centre for the Legal Profession. Professor Sossin’s areas of expertise include Civil Litigation, administrative law, the legal profession, and the legal process. He has written several books and numerous articles on these subjects, including Administrative Law in Context (co-edited with Colleen Flood) and Boundaries of Judicial Review: The Law of Justiciability in Canada. Professor Sossin is the recipient of several awards for teaching and scholarship, including the 2009 OCUFA Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Lorne Sossin's profile page

Andrea Hill, Lawyer at Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, Toronto.


Andrea Hill's profile page

Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa.


Sylvie Paquerot's profile page

Graham Mayeda is an associate professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa.

Graham Mayeda's profile page

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia and Research Partner in the SSHRC-CURA Project, “Reconceiving Human Rights Practice,” online:


Margot Young's profile page

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