Human Rights and Poverty Reduction Strategies

A Guide to International Human Rights Law and its Domestic Application in Poverty Reduction Strategies

Today, over 4.8 million people in Canada are living in poverty. They struggle daily to pay rent, put food on the table, heat their homes and find secure jobs that pay enough to make ends meet. Many of those who live this abject reality are from marginalized groups — immigrants, indigenous people, racialized communities, single mothers and persons with disabilities, to name a few.

Many provincial and municipal governments acknowledge the stubbornness of poverty in Canada and have come to understand that poverty itself is a costly problem. These realizations have generated numerous Poverty Reduction Strategies in communities across the country. While these strategies may boast varying degrees of success, none have proven to be transformative nor have any come close to ‘solving’ the poverty problem.

At the international level, poverty is defined as a human rights crisis. It is about people being denied their basic human rights. From this understanding has emerged a new framework for addressing poverty, one that moves away from the traditional approach of viewing poverty reduction as an act of charity to an approach that sees poverty reduction as justice.

This Guide is not intended to replace existing Poverty Reduction Strategies, but to inform their development and execution. It is designed to complement, strengthen and give greater meaning to the vital work that is already being done to address poverty in provinces and municipalities across Canada.

Publication Date: 
Ottawa, ON