Governments Should Respect Human Rights in Canada

Toronto, Canada – December 10, 2012- At the conclusion of “30 in 30 – From Remembrance to Equity, Inclusion and Human Rights”, the Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change educational initiative to deepen and broaden Ontarians’ understanding of human rights, racialized communities ( First Peoples and peoples of colour ) and their allies call on all orders of Government in Canada to fully honour and respect human rights on this December 10th, the International Day for Human Rights.

Over the last thirty days, beginning with Remembrance Day, community groups and their labour allies have organized various events and activities to strengthen their shared belief in and commitment to human rights in Ontario.

As members of racialized communities remain among those who are most marginalized and disadvantaged, politically, economically and otherwise, more can and should be done by governments to address the growing racial disparities and inequities in Canada.

Across Ontario, families of racialized communities are at a minimum two to four times more likely to live in poverty; even child poverty has become racialized, with one in ten children of non-racialized background living in poverty, versus one in five for children of East Asian descent, one in four for South Asian and Indigenous ( Aboriginal ), one in three for West Asian and Latin American, and one in two for African.

Over the last decade, institutions that were set up to protect and promote human rights have either had their funding severely cut back, or were completely decimated thanks to ideologically or suspect austerity driven political agendas.  The defunding of the Court Challenges Program at the federal level, and the refusal to establish the anti-racism and disability secretariats as mandated by the Ontario Human Rights Code at the provincial level, are but two examples of governments’ failures to fulfill their human rights obligations. Meanwhile, efforts by non-governmental organizations and labour unions to support rights based initiatives have been undermined through governmental indifference at best, and negative political interference at worst.

As a country founded on the principles of democracy and Rule of Law, Canada is well placed to make human rights for all Canadians a reality, as opposed to an ideal that exists only on paper or one that is only offered to the chosen few.  Canadians consistently demonstrate their strong support for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and demand that their Governments act in accordance with the fundamental principles enshrined in the Charter and in human rights legislation more generally.

It is time for our political leaders to stand up for human rights, and stop the targeted or strategic attacks on all or some of the social, political, civil, cultural and economic rights of all Canadians, including the right to be free from discrimination, the right to organize, and the right to a decent standard of living.

For more information, please contact:Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, at (416) 971-9674

Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change
# 1701 – 180 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1Z8

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Submitted by:  Teferi Adem, MSW., RSW.Social Worker, Race Relations/Anti-Racism Educator, & Human Rights/Equity Advisor, Toronto, Canada



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