Advancing Social Rights in Canada

Martha Jackman and Bruce Porter

August 2014
Irwin Law
ISBN: 978-1-55221-374-2


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.

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About the Author:

Martha Jackman specializes in the area of constitutional law, with a particular focus on issues relating to women and other marginalized groups. She joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in 1988. She appears regularly before law reform bodies, lawyers, judges and parliamentary committees. She has acted as legal counsel in a number of important Charter cases, including before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Chaoulli case. She is a member of the National Steering Committee of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL/ANFD) and a former member of Equality Rights Panel of the Court Challenges Program of Canada and of the Board of Directors of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF/FAEJ). From 2004-2015 she was the academic director of two successive five-year, million dollar research projects: “Social Rights Accountability Project” and "Reconceiving Human Rights Practice", funded under the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's Community-University Research Alliance Program. In 2001, she was awarded the Augusta Stowe-Gullen Affirmative Action medal in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of women’s equality. In 2007, she received the Law Society of Upper Canada Medal for her contributions to the profession and in 2015, was the recipient of the Canadian Bar Association’s Touchstone Award.

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