[ Go to Canadian Social Research Links Home Page ]

List of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the third periodic report of Canada : United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - Implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (June 10, 1998)



3. What is the opinion of federal, provincial and municipal governments as to the effect of current or proposed trade and investment agreements such as NAFTA, FTAA and the MAI on their ability to fulfill obligations under the Covenant and what processes have been put in place to review this question?

There is no discernible effect of current or proposed trade and investment agreements such as NAFTA, etc., on Manitoba's ability to meet its human rights obligations under the Covenant or otherwise.

7 Explain the position of the government of Manitoba in the Fernandes case (. . . ) with particular reference to article 2 of the Covenant. Will these positions be changed in light of the decision of the Supreme Court in the Eldridge Case?

Manitoba's position in the Fernandes case is set out in its factum opposing the applicant's leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. A copy of that document is attached. The Eldridge case is not seen as affecting that position.

8. Will the Government of Canada be acting on the recommendations of the Canadian Human Rights Commission that the ambit of human rights protections in Canada be expanded to include social and economic rights?

The views of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission can be obtained by contacting:

Ms. Dianna Scarth

Executive Director

Manitoba Human Rights Commission

301 - 259 Portage Avenue

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3B 2A9

It should be noted that social and economic rights are addressed to some degree in Manitoba in that one of the enumerated grounds under the Human Rights Code is "source of income". This has been used primarily to protect social assistance recipients from unfair treatment in housing and other services (see also question 14).

10. Please provide an estimate of the percentage of human rights complaints filed with each Human Rights Commission in Canada which are adjudicated and explain how this is consistent with the Commission=s General Comment No. 3, para. 5.

Only a relatively small proportion of complaints filed with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission end up going to a Board of Adjudication. Most of those which are not dismissed or withdrawn are settled through early resolution or by negotiation following investigation, including up to time of adjudication, itself. Remedies on settlement can include a wide variety of things, depending upon the specific factual circumstances: eg. an apology, reinstatement, pecuniary damages, policy changes, etc.

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission has been experimenting with a form of pre-complaint resolution which permits mediation, if both parties are willing, even before a complaint is formally filed and without any ruling on the merits. Initial reactions from both complainants and respondents is extremely positive.

12. What is the Federal Government=s and each provincial government=s position with respect to whether Aworkfare@ programs discriminate against welfare recipients and are contrary to article 2 of the Covenant? Please explain the Government of Quebec's position in the Lambert case.

Manitoba does not operate a work-fare program.

14. What is the position of each Human Rights Commission (with the exception of Quebec=s) on whether Asocial condition@ should be added as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the light of article 2 of the Covenant, and what is the position of the provincial and federal governments on this question?

To the extent that social condition is intended to deal with problems encountered by the poor in our society, the Manitoba Human Rights legislation already provides protections against unreasonable discrimination based upon "source of income". In the former Human Rights Act, this was a protected category only with respect to housing, but when the Human Rights Code was enacted in 1987, "source of income" was included as a protected category with respect to all activities which are subject to the Code. An example of the application of the Code in such a situation is Spence v. Kolstar Properties Inc., 7 C.H.R.R. D/3593 (attached).

18. Have provinces responded by cutting social assistance rates or entitlements? Please provide information from each province about changes which have occurred from April 1995 to the present day, and any effect on the extent or depth of poverty.

There were some cuts in social assistance rates in 1996 because of the loss of federal cost sharing. This amounted to approximately 2% in the case of single parents, 10% in the case of employable adults and childless couples, and in addition, eligibility for provincial tax credits was eliminated for welfare recipients.

24. Please provide information on any provinces that require participation in "workfare" or similar programmes and describe the appeal procedures in place with respect to any disentitlement from basic necessities on this ground. Are these programmes applied to single parents and, if so, what exceptions apply? Is the Committee correct to assume that these programmes would have been illegal under CAP?

Manitoba does not have a work-fare program.

31. Please provide information regarding the rights of farm workers and domestic workers to organize and bargain collectively and identify any changes in provincial labour legislation which has affected these rights. is there any other justification for denying these workers collective bargaining rights accorded to other workers?

Manitoba's Labour Relations Act makes no exemption with respect to domestic workers or farm workers, so both have the right to organize and bargain collectively. There are some exemptions in this area with respect to employment standards legislation, but those are currently under review.

35. Are there any provinces in Canada in which a person in need of financial assistance may have such assistance discontinued without a hearing or be denied interim assistance for basic necessities pending a hearing before an impartial adjudicator? Please provide information as to any cases in which this issue has been considered by the court and the positions taken by responding governments in those cases.

In Manitoba, everyone has a right to appeal a decision with respect to social assistance. The social assistance may be terminated prior to the appeal, but the Director has discretion to provide assistance in the interim. (The discretion relates to situations where the applicants has no other resources available to them).

36. Please estimate what it costs on average to meet the special needs arising from pregnancy and caring and providing for a new born, including special dietary needs, etc. Are these special needs provided for in social assistance rates for pregnant women? Please provide information about any changes in those benefits.

Manitoba does make special provision for pregnant mothers. As well, there are additional benefits during the first year following birth, eg. to meet formula costs, etc. (This additional benefit has just recently been introduced).

53. In 1993 the Government informed the committee that section 7 of the Charter at least guaranteed that people are not to be deprived of basic necessities and may be interpreted to include rights under the Covenant, such as rights under article 11.1 Is that still the position of all governments in Canada?

Manitoba has adopted no such official position with respect to section 7, and examines each claim individually.

60. At paragraph 372 of the Report, the Government reports on the results of the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) conducted in 1994 in Canada. Almost half of Canadians would appear to lack the minimal literacy skills necessary for coping and managing in such basic activities as, for example, comprehending a bus schedule. Can the Government provide the Committee with an estimate of the number of Canadians who are currently receiving literacy training and describe any strategies that are being considered to deal with this problem?

Adult Literacy and Continuing Education is a unit with the Employment and Training Services (ETS) Branch and provides service province-wide through Community-based adult literacy programs and Basic Education in the workplace programs. Approximately 2,400 adults are served annually. Participants range from employed individuals, to those on income assistance.

The primary purpose of programming is to enhance individual and community empowerment, and to assist individuals to develop skills required for economic independence. Partnerships are facilitated that encourage individual, workplace and community literacy investment and ownership in lifelong learning and training initiatives.

Adult literacy is seen as the cornerstone of all adult training programs in the Department of Education and Training. In addition to grants provided to community-based groups, portions of other ETS programming resources provide for the integration of literacy components into other training initiatives, with the recognition of the importance of literacy skills in the development of essential employment skills.

65. In May 1996, social assistance rates in Manitoba were cut by 10% in the case of singles and couples without children. Can the government explain which guarantees it has that these specific cuts will not deprive recipients of an adequate income?

It is unclear what is meant by the term "guarantees". Manitoba is of the view that when its rates are compared nationally, it compares favourably (even after the reductions referred to). That is, in some cases Manitoba is in the mid-to-upper range in terms of rates, and one must be mindful of the context : Manitoba is second lowest in terms of cost of living.


[ Go to Canadian Social Research Links Home Page ]