Fourth Report of Canada
Covering the period
October 1994 – September 1999
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Table of Contents
Index of Articles ........................................................................................................... i
PART I – Introduction ............................................................................................... 1
Canadian federalism and human rights ............................................. 2
Significant cross-jurisdictional developments..................................... 5
PART II – Review of Jurisprudence .................................................................... 12
PART III – Measures Adopted by the Government of Canada ..................... 31
PART IV – Measures Adopted by the Governments of the Provinces* ..... 123
British Columbia ............................................................................ 124
Alberta .......................................................................................... 172
Saskatchewan .............................................................................. 211
Manitoba ....................................................................................... 232
Ontario .......................................................................................... 259
Québec ......................................................................................... 309
New Brunswick ............................................................................. 342
Nova Scotia .................................................................................. 375
Prince Edward Island .................................................................... 394
Newfoundland and Labrador ......................................................... 399
PART V – Measures Adopted by the Governments of the Territories* ..... 413
Yukon ........................................................................................... 414
Northwest Territories .................................................................... 426
In geographical order, from west to east
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Index of Articles
Article 1: The Right to Self-determination
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................13
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................38
Article 2: Rights Specifically Subject to Non-discrimination Provisions
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................38
British Columbia....................................................................................................................126
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................232
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................261
Québec ...................................................................................................................................309
Article 3: Equal Rights of Women and Men
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................40
British Columbia....................................................................................................................126
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................234
Québec ...................................................................................................................................312
Article 6: Right to Work
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................14
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................43
British Columbia....................................................................................................................126
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................234
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................263
Québec ...................................................................................................................................312
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................344
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................375
Prince Edward Island .............................................................................................................394
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................399
Northwest Territories .............................................................................................................426
Index of Articles
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................16
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................50
British Columbia....................................................................................................................132
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................236
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................267
Québec ...................................................................................................................................319
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................348
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................377
Prince Edward Island .............................................................................................................395
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................400
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................17
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................52
British Columbia....................................................................................................................136
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................237
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................273
Québec ...................................................................................................................................320
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................349
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................380
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................401
Article 9: Right to Social Security
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................18
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................53
British Columbia....................................................................................................................138
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................237
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................278
Québec ...................................................................................................................................320
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................350
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................380
Prince Edward Island .............................................................................................................396
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................401
Northwest Territories .............................................................................................................426
Index of Articles
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................22
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................60
British Columbia....................................................................................................................141
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................238
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................283
Québec ...................................................................................................................................322
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................350
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................381
Prince Edward Island .............................................................................................................397
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................403
Northwest Territories .............................................................................................................426
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................23
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................66
British Columbia....................................................................................................................147
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................243
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................287
Québec ...................................................................................................................................326
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................352
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................383
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................404
Northwest Territories .............................................................................................................428
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................25
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................83
British Columbia....................................................................................................................150
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................247
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................295
Québec ...................................................................................................................................332
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................355
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................384
Index of Articles
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Prince Edward Island .............................................................................................................397
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................406
Article 13: Right to Education
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................26
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................102
British Columbia....................................................................................................................159
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................252
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................301
Québec ...................................................................................................................................334
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................358
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................388
Prince Edward Island .............................................................................................................398
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................409
Northwest Territories .............................................................................................................430
Article 15: Right to Participate in Cultural Life and Benefit from Scientific
Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
Jurisprudence .........................................................................................................................28
Government of Canada ..........................................................................................................110
British Columbia....................................................................................................................168
Manitoba ................................................................................................................................256
Ontario ...................................................................................................................................306
Québec ...................................................................................................................................338
New Brunswick......................................................................................................................372
Nova Scotia............................................................................................................................393
Newfoundland and Labrador .................................................................................................412
Northwest Territories .............................................................................................................431
Index of Articles
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Part I
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Canada’s international obligations with respect to the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are met through a combination of laws,
policies and programs of the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
This report describes the major changes in government policy, legislation and programs
for the period of October 1994 to September 1999. Generally, the information that
appeared in Canada’s earlier reports on this Covenant and other international conventions
involving human rights is not repeated here.
The introduction to the report provides general information on the implementation of
human rights in Canada and joint federal-provincial/territorial initiatives in key areas
affecting economic, social and cultural rights. Part I presents a review of the
jurisprudence related to this Covenant. Part II describes new measures adopted by the
Government of Canada. Parts III and IV describe new measures adopted by the provincial
and territorial governments. These sections have been prepared by those respective
This report takes the guidelines for preparing reports under the ICESCR into account
along with the general comments issued by the United Nations on certain articles of the
Canada takes note of the recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights issued following the review of Canada’s Third Report under the ICESCR.
New measures that address these recommendations are explained under the
corresponding articles in this report. This report does not repeat Canada’s answers to the
supplementary questions raised at the time of the review but does refer to and/or update
them where appropriate.
The ICESCR, Canada’s reports, the Concluding Observations of the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued in December 1998 and Canada’s answers to
the committee’s supplementary questions have been widely disseminated to the Canadian
public and are available on the Web site of the Department of Canadian Heritage
A statistical annex was prepared in June 2001 to accompany this report based on the
available data at the time of writing. This appendix follows the order of the articles in the
ICESCR. As data from the last Census becomes available, Statistics Canada is
publishing reports, which may be of relevance to this Covenant; these may be found at
Canadian federalism and human rights
Canada is a developed country inhabited by 31 million people who share the values of
peace, tolerance, co-operation, security, stability and respect for democracy, human rights
and the rule of law. In area, it is the second largest country in the world. Canada is a
federal state of 10 provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick,
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Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec and
Saskatchewan) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut1 and Yukon)
The Constitution of Canada defines the division of powers between the federal and
provincial governments and forms the framework of Canada’s democratic system of
government. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, enshrined in the
Constitution, guarantees democratic rights and basic freedoms, including freedom of
conscience, religion, thought, expression, peaceful assembly and association.
The Constitution confers legislative and executive powers on two levels of government,
each of them sovereign in its own sphere. The federation includes a central government
for all of Canada and a government for each of the provinces. Provincial legislatures
cannot assume powers granted exclusively to the federal Parliament. Similarly, the
federal Parliament cannot assume powers exclusive to provinces.
The federal Parliament has the power to collect taxes, establish monetary policy and
control international and interprovincial trade; it is responsible for defence and relations
with other countries; it is also responsible for shipping and navigation, fisheries,
bankruptcies, Indians and Indian reserves, citizenship and naturalization, criminal law,
patents and copyright, mail service and employment insurance.
The provinces’ legislative powers include authority over property and civil rights.
Institutions and services under provincial jurisdiction include health and social services,
municipal institutions and land-use planning, the administration of justice, the
establishment and organization of provincial civil and criminal courts and education.
Unlike the provinces, which are allocated very specific areas of responsibility by the
Constitution, the territories are the creation of the Parliament of Canada, which has
delegated to them responsibilities similar to those of the provinces. Within their areas of
jurisdiction, the obligations of the territorial governments, with respect to implementing
the ICESCR, are similar to those of the provinces.
The Government of Canada (federal order) holds the power to ratify international treaties.
It consuls and seeks the support of the provinces and territories before ratifying an
international human rights treaty or a treaty dealing with matters coming under their
jurisdiction. The international human rights treaties ratified by Canada generally have
force in all of Canada.
Prior to any ratification, the federal, provincial and territorial authorities verify that
existing legislation complies with the treaty. To ensure compliance, these authorities
may have to amend existing laws or pass new ones before ratification.
International conventions ratified by Canada do not ipso facto acquire the force of law in
the country unless incorporated in domestic legislation. The Canadian Charter of Rights
The territory of Nunavut came into existence on April 1, 1999.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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and Freedoms applies to all governments in Canada and protects many of the human
rights recognized by international conventions and covenants. To a large extent, these
treaties are implemented by additional legislative and administrative measures.
Some human rights come under federal jurisdiction while others are provincial and
territorial. As a result, treaties on human rights are implemented by legislative and
administrative measures enacted by the competent authorities. The practice is not to
adopt a single legislative text to incorporate a particular international convention on
human rights into domestic law (except, in some cases, treaties dealing with specific
issues involving human rights like the 1949 Geneva Conventions to protect victims of
war and armed conflicts). Thus, the laws and policies adopted by federal, provincial and
territorial governments play a role in the fulfilment of Canada’s international human
rights obligations.
Canada’s federal nature enhances the protection of human rights because it allows for a
variety of approaches; governments can weigh the particular conditions prevailing in
their jurisdictions when deciding on appropriate ways of implementing human rights.
This protection is also strengthened by the interaction and complementarity of the various
constitutional, legal and administrative forms of human rights protection in Canada. For
example, the courts have tended to interpret section 15 (equality rights) of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the same progressive way they used for human rights
codes or legislation, and the prohibited grounds of discrimination provided by these
codes have in turn been expanded by legal challenges based on section 15 of the Charter.
While there may sometimes be differences in the ways rights are implemented in a
federal state like Canada, the following aspects of the Canadian legal system help to
avoid major differences arising in the protection of human rights:
Measures adopted by all governments in Canada are subject to review under the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This ensures uniformity of protection
across Canada regarding the civil and political rights guaranteed by the Charter, and
further that economic and social measures in all jurisdictions, and those relating to
children or other subject matters covered by human rights conventions, satisfy the
same criteria set forth in the Charter regarding such matters as non-discrimination and
due process.
The Supreme Court of Canada interprets and enforces the laws adopted everywhere in
Canada, thus helping to ensure consistency.
Federal funding for certain provincial or territorial programs may be granted on
condition that certain national standards will be respected. For example, provinces
and territories are not eligible for the full federal contributions under the Canada
Health and Social Transfer unless they meet the national criteria provided in the
Canada Health Act.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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There are mechanisms to ensure that the various Canadian governments share
information on human rights issues and to favour co-ordination in this area. The federalprovincial/territorial (FPT) Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights is the
principal mechanism for consultation and information sharing on the ratification and
implementation of international human rights treaties. Other relevant fora that deal with
issues specifically related to the ICESCR include the FPT committees of Ministers
responsible for Social Services, Ministers of Health, Ministers of Justice and Ministers
responsible for the Status of Women.
More detailed information about Canada, its land and people, political structure and
general legal framework for the protection of human rights can be found in Canada’s
Core Document, submitted to the UN in 1997.2
Significant cross-jurisdictional developments
Economic challenges3
The measures taken by Canada to give effect to the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights are influenced by a broader context that includes social and
economic factors, civil society, structural changes and international gatherings.
The period covered by the present report was one of major transformation in public
policy for Canada. It was during this period that Canadians and their governments
became convinced that massive annual deficits and growing public debt could not
continue. There was increasing concern about the long-term sustainability of
fundamental social programs. The early 1990s were a period of economic recession; real
income declined while unemployment reached high levels. The recession cut into
government revenues while interest rates remained elevated in the wake of the inflation
of the previous decade.
In 1993-1994, the combined deficits of the federal and provincial governments exceeded
$62 billion, or 8.6 percent of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Moreover,
Canada’s collective public debt was approaching 100 percent of GDP, one of the highest
levels in the industrialized world.
Over the next few years, the federal, provincial and territorial governments faced the
challenge of fiscal responsibility and bringing their fiscal deficits under control:
Canada’s Core Document was submitted to the United Nations in October 1997 as part of the periodic reports that
Canada submits to the UN under international human rights treaties. It can found on the Web site of the Human
Rights Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage at
Much of the information in this section is taken from the report Implementing the Outcomes of the World Summit
on Social Development: Canada’s Response (
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
In 1993-1994, the federal deficit stood at $42 billion. By 1997-1998, the federal
government had transformed this into a surplus of $3.5 billion.
In 1993-1994, combined provincial/territorial deficits stood at $20 billion. By 19971998, five provinces posted a balanced budget or a surplus.
Federal and provincial governments over a number of years imposed increasingly tight
limits on their own spending. While the approach varied from one jurisdiction to another,
all shared a commitment to getting their fiscal situations under control.
Federal transfers to provinces were restructured and reduced significantly in the mid-90s.
This was done over several years, to minimize the impact on provincial revenues. The
federal government provides financial support to provincial and territorial governments
on an annual basis to assist them in the provision of programs and services. These
transfers support important provincial and territorial programs — such as health care,
post-secondary education, social assistance, social services and early childhood
Each provincial or territorial government addressed fiscal reform somewhat differently
and according to its own timetable, but all undertook wide-ranging reviews of spending
leading to substantial restraint in programs. The result was that, overall, by the year
2000, government finances were in better shape than at any time in the previous 2030 years. At the same time, both GDP and employment grew at a healthy rate.
While governments in Canada achieved much success during this period, some provincial
and territorial governments continued to face economic challenges and therefore
maintained their efforts to control their fiscal deficits through a variety of initiatives
(described in further detail under the respective provincial/territorial sections of the
present report).
A strong economy is the means both to generate employment growth and to create the
revenues needed to sustain social programs. At the core of Canada’s social programs are
those serving four fundamental needs: health, income security, education and social
Canada, like many other countries, was faced with the urgent need to reconcile fiscal
reality with a strong commitment to social values and the public policies which support
them. With the achievement of zero deficits, and even modest surpluses, at the federal
level and in most provinces, the earlier restraint of the past several years began to pay off
in terms of fiscal flexibility to address social priorities. Thus, while the cutbacks in
spending did in many cases affect social programs, the result put government spending on
a more sustainable basis and lay the foundation for careful and selective re-investment in
helping those most in need of assistance.
One of the biggest challenges Canada faces is to find a balance between social objectives
and economic imperatives that avoids the predominance of either. The reduction of
poverty is especially difficult. Despite the fact that most Canadian family incomes are
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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now rising, vulnerable groups such as Aboriginal people, single-parent families, recent
immigrants and persons with disabilities have much higher rates of poverty than other
Canadians. Canada expects the new approaches reflected in this report — including
economic growth, job creation and income support — to be effective in alleviating
poverty in the medium term.
Canada prepared detailed reports for the special sessions of the United Nations General
Assembly on women (2000), social development (2000) and human settlements (2001).
These reports emphasized Canada’s situation as regards social development and the
reduction of poverty. The present report will not reproduce these elaborate analyses but
rather describe the major initiatives and strategies in these areas. The reports prepared
for the special sessions should be consulted for more information.4
Health and social services
The federal, provincial and territorial governments work together to develop, by mutual
consent, the values, principles and objectives that should underlie Canada’s social
In 1996, the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) replaced the Canada Assistance
Plan (CAP) (a cost sharing plan for social services/social assistance programs) and
Established Programs Financing (EPF) (a block grant for health care and post-secondary
education). The CHST consists of a single block fund of cash and tax transfers. The
provincial and territorial distribution under the previous transfers was carried over into
the CHST, which provides support for health care, post-secondary education, and social
services and social assistance. The block fund nature of the CHST allowed provinces and
territories greater flexibility in the use of the funds. More detailed information on the
CHST is included in Canada’s Third Report under the ICESCR and Canada’s answers to
the supplementary questions asked by the United Nations Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. As indicated above, federal transfer payments can be
withheld if provincial and territorial health care insurance plans fail to adhere to the
principles of the Canada Health Act, or impose extra-billing or user charges, or if the
province or territory requires a minimum period of residency as a condition of eligibility
for social assistance.
During the period of this report, because of Canada’s commitment to improve its
economic and fiscal situation, eliminate its deficit and reduce its debt burden, overall
CHST transfer levels were reduced. The cash portion of the CHST was reduced, while
the value of tax transfers continued to grow. Equalization payments to less-prosperous
provinces were not affected by restraint measures. Equalization continued to be provided
Canada’s National Response to the UN Questionnaire on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
(; Implementing the Outcomes of the World Summit on Social
Development: Canada's Response (;
Implementing the Outcomes of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II): Canada’s
Response (
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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to ensure that all provinces had the fiscal capacity to provide roughly the same level of
services at roughly the same level of taxation.
After attaining budget balance in 1998, the Government of Canada began to re-invest in
transfer payments to the provinces and territories in support of health programs, postsecondary education and social assistance. It announced in the 1999 budget, an
additional $11.5 billion in cash contributions between fiscal years 1999-2000 and 20032004 specifically for health care under the CHST. The 1999 budget also injected an
additional $1.4 billion into the system to the end of 2002-2003 for such key areas as
research, information and technology, First Nations and Inuit health, and enhancements
to health promotions and health protection programs, and committed to future
reinvestments in health care. As a result, for 1999-2000, CHST entitlements totalled
$30.1 billion. The annual base cash component of the CHST was to increase to $14.5
billion for 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, and $15 billion for the following three years,
however significant incremental adjustments have subsequently been legislated. CHST
base cash has been legislated to grow from $14.5 billion in 1999-2000 to $20.825 in
2003-2004, with continued growth thereafter.
The CHST legislation was amended to provide to provinces and territories equal per
capita total entitlements under the CHST, providing equal support to all Canadians
regardless of where they live in Canada.
Agreement on Internal Trade
The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), signed by the federal, provincial and territorial
governments on July 18, 1994, is intended to make it easier for people, goods and
services to move across Canada. It includes 10 chapters on specific issues, including a
chapter on labour mobility. The purpose of Chapter 7 of the AIT — the Labour Mobility
Chapter — is to enable any worker qualified for an occupation in one province or
territory to be granted access to employment opportunities in that occupation in any other
province or territory.
The Labour Mobility Chapter targets three main barriers that prevent or limit
interjurisdictional movement of workers: residency requirements; practices related to
occupational licensing, certification and registration; and differences in occupational
standards. Under the AIT, governments are obligated to give appropriate recognition to
the training, skills, experience and education of workers from other jurisdictions, and to
make necessary accommodations in their licensing or registration requirements. The AIT
also establishes a process for receiving complaints and resolving disputes.
The Forum of Labour Market Ministers is responsible for implementation of the Labour
Mobility Chapter of the AIT. The Framework to Improve the Social Union for
Canadians (detailed below), signed in 1999, committed governments to ensure that no
new barriers to mobility are created in new social policy initiatives and to ensure
compliance with all labour mobility provisions of the AIT by July 1, 2001. Additional
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information on the AIT can be found online at
National Children’s Agenda
In December 1997, Canada’s First Ministers asked the Federal-Provincial-Territorial
Council of Ministers on Social Policy Renewal to engage the public in developing a
shared vision for enhancing the well-being of Canada’s children. The core of the
National Children’s Agenda is its vision and values for children, founded on the belief
that children’s well-being is a priority for all Canadians.
In May 1999, governments launched a dialogue with citizens across the country to gather
comments and ideas about the draft vision, as set out in the two dialogue documents.
Information on the results of this consultation will be included in Canada’s next report.
National Child Benefit
In 1996, First Ministers identified child poverty as a national priority, and instructed
Social Services Ministers to develop an integrated child benefit. The result was the
launch of the National Child Benefit (NCB) initiative between federal, provincial, and
territorial governments in July 1998.5
The goals of the NCB are to help prevent and reduce the depth of child poverty; promote
attachment to the labour market by ensuring that families will be better off as a result of
working; and reduce overlap and duplication by harmonizing program objectives and
benefits and simplifying administration.
For their part, most provinces, territories and First Nations are adjusting social assistance
payments for families with children, while ensuring these families receive at least the
same level of overall income support from governments. Provinces, territories and First
Nations are reinvesting social assistance savings on complementary benefits and services
for low-income families with children. In this way, the NCB is providing a more secure
and uniform level of basic income support, benefits and services for children in all lowincome families across Canada, whether these families are working or receiving social
assistance. Detailed information about the National Child Benefit can be found on the
NCB Web site (
First Nations and the federal government are also working together to address the needs
of low-income families on reserve through First Nations NCB reinvestments. First
Nations involved in the program tend to focus on reducing the depth of child poverty and
promoting an attachment to the labour market. In 1998-1999, First Nations had
approximately $30.8 million available for reinvestment in National Child Benefit
programs. This amount increased by approximately $20 million in 1999-2000. The
The Government of Québec indicated that it agrees with the basic principles of the NCB but that it would assume
control over income support for children in Québec. The Government has adopted a similar approach to the NCB.
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types of programs and services for parents and their children fall into five broad areas:
child/day care, child nutrition, early child development, employment and training
opportunities, and other (cultural and traditional teachings, recreation, youth
National Framework on Aging
In 1998, FPT Ministers Responsible for Seniors (with the exception of Québec6) released
the National Framework on Aging (NFA), to assist in responding to the needs of this
population. Designed as a voluntary framework, it has as its core, a shared Vision
Statement and Five Principles that seniors and governments across Canada endorse. As
part of the NFA, FPT governments recently released a senior’s policies and programs
database that allows for the easy sharing of aging-related policies in all sectors to guide
policy development and impact evaluation ( or
Recognizing the importance and value of seniors contributions, the FPT Ministers created
the Canada Coordinating Committee for the International Year of Older Persons to
celebrate seniors as part of families, communities and society. The year witnessed and
provided testament to the involvement, motivation and significant contributions of
seniors in Canada and increased awareness among all population groups.
Canada’s Disability Agenda
In 1996, the Prime Minister and provincial Premiers identified disability issues as a
collective priority in the pursuit of social policy renewal. In 1997, First Ministers
reaffirmed that commitment and agreed that a vision and framework were needed. These
steps culminated in the development of a document which would guide future federal,
provincial and territorial work on disability. In 1998, federal, provincial, and territorial
Ministers Responsible for Social Services released In Unison: A Canadian Approach to
Disability Issues. This document describes the vision and policy framework for the
promotion of full citizenship for people with disabilities in all aspects of Canadian
society. Full citizenship is based on the values of equality and inclusion and the
principles of full rights and responsibilities for persons with disabilities, empowerment,
and participation. The fundamental building blocks for achieving this vision of full
inclusion were identified as employment, income, and disability supports.
Building on the vision articulated in In Unison, the Government of Canada outlined its
federal disability agenda in 1999 in Future Directions. This document identifies policy
directions in the areas of accountability, policy and program coherence, building the
policy and research capacity of the disability community, the needs of Aboriginal persons
with disabilities, disability supports, income, employment, and prevention and health
promotion (see
The Government of Québec indicated that it supports the Vision and Principles put forth by the other
governments, but that it intends to assume full responsibility for the entire range of activities pertaining to health and
social services.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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Social Union Framework Agreement
In February 1999, the federal, provincial and territorial governments, with the exception
of the province of Québec, signed the Social Union Framework Agreement (SUFA) for
Canadians. The Framework describes a new partnership among governments and with
Canadians to sustain and improve social policies and programs. It is a political accord
which respects each government’s existing constitutional jurisdiction and powers. It
proposes a modern vision of governance based on management of interdependence and
intergovernmental co-operation, including exchange of information and monitoring of
results. While supporting the same principles regarding social policies and programmes,
the province of Québec did not adhere to the Social Union Framework. However, the
Government of Québec continues to ensure the establishment of social services, through
the appropriate legislation, policies and programmes.
Under SUFA, participating governments have agreed to promote equality of opportunity,
equity and respect for diversity throughout Canada. They have also agreed to involve
Canadians in the development of social programs and policies, to keep them better
informed, to measure the results of policies and programs and to enhance accountability
to constituents.
Notable achievements under the Framework have included an early childhood
development agreement, an agreement on strengthening Canada’s publicly funded health
care services, and improving labour mobility across provinces and territories. These
agreements are examples of federal, provincial and territorial collaboration and meeting
their commitments to the principles of the Framework.
As part of the agreement, the signatories agreed to a joint review of the implementation
of SUFA by the end of its third year. The results of this review, which will involve input
and feedback from Canadians and interested parties, as well as Aboriginal perspectives,
will be provided in Canada’s next report.
Other issues
All levels of government have taken actions to address the challenges Canada faces with
respect to homelessness, literacy, and diversity. These strategies are detailed within their
respective sections of this report.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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Part II
Review of Jurisprudence
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
While international human rights treaties ratified by Canada do not automatically become
part of the domestic law of Canada, case law, as demonstrated by the following review of
jurisprudence, assists in the implementation and practical realization of the Covenant.
Article 1: Right to Self-determination
In Reference re Secession of Québec (1998), one of the questions addressed by the
Supreme Court of Canada was the right to self-determination in the context of unilateral
secession. Referring to numerous instruments and documents addressing that right,
including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Court
concluded that the existence of the right of a people to self-determination is now so
widely recognized in international conventions that the principle has acquired a status
beyond “convention” and is considered a general principle of international law. The
Court indicated that the precise meaning of the term “people” remains somewhat
uncertain. The recognized sources of international law establish that the right to selfdetermination of a people is normally fulfilled through internal self-determination — a
people’s pursuit of its political, economic, social and cultural development within the
framework of an existing state. A right to external self-determination arises in only the
most extreme of cases and, even then, under carefully defined circumstances. The
international law principle of self-determination has evolved within a framework of
respect for the territorial integrity of existing states. The various international documents
that support the existence of a people’s right to self-determination also contain parallel
statements supportive of the conclusion that the exercise of such a right must be
sufficiently limited to prevent threats to an existing state's territorial integrity or the
stability of relations between sovereign states. The Supreme Court stated that while the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights do not specifically refer to the protection of
territorial integrity, they both define the ambit of the right to self-determination in terms
that are normally attainable within the framework of an existing state. There is no
necessary incompatibility between the maintenance of the territorial integrity of existing
states, including Canada, and the right of a “people” to achieve a full measure of selfdetermination. A state whose government represents the whole of the people or peoples
resident within its territory, on a basis of equality and without discrimination, and
respects the principles of self-determination in its own internal arrangements, is entitled
to the protection under international law of its territorial integrity. The Supreme Court
concluded that the international law right to self-determination only generates, at best, a
right to external self-determination in situations of former colonies; where a people is
oppressed, as for example under foreign military occupation; or where a definable group
is denied meaningful access to government to pursue their political, economic, social and
cultural development. In all three situations, the people in question are entitled to a right
to external self-determination because they have been denied the ability to exert
internally their right to self-determination.
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Article 6: Right to Work
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
In Walker v. Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.C.A.) (1993), the Supreme Court of Canada
examined the Public Accounting and Auditing Act (Prince Edward Island) that reserves
the practice of public accountancy to members of the provincial Institute of Chartered
Accountants. The restriction only applies to certain areas of accounting where there is
particular vulnerability and it only applies when the services are offered to the public.
Other areas of the accounting profession remain open and unregulated. The restriction
does not apply to audits, review engagements or non-review engagements, services which
are provided for management use. It subjects all non-members of the Institute to the
same restrictions and conditions whether they reside in the Province or not. The Supreme
Court held that the relevant provision of the Public Accounting and Auditing Act does not
limit the appellants' rights to freedom of expression, their mobility rights or their right to
life, liberty and security (guaranteed by sections 2 b), 6 or 7 of the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms).
In Canadian Egg Marketing Agency v. Richardson (1998), the Supreme Court of Canada
stated that section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter)
closely mirrors the language of international human rights treaties, for example article 6
of the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and that
section 6 of the Charter responds to a concern to ensure one of the conditions for the
preservation of the basic dignity of the person. Section 6 guarantees the right to “pursue
the gaining of a livelihood in any province” and guarantees not simply the right to pursue
a livelihood, but more specifically, the right to pursue the livelihood “of choice” to the
extent and subject to the same conditions as residents.
Human rights legislation
In Newfoundland Association of Public Employees v. Newfoundland (Green Bay Health
Care Centre) (1996), the Green Bay Health Care Centre which included a nursing home,
among other facilities, issued a job posting for a personal care attendant. The employer
had determined that a male would be needed to meet the staffing requirement as the
position involved intimate personal care of elderly male residents. An arbitration board
decided that the “maleness” requirement was a bona fide occupational qualification
(BFOQ) and that the employer is not prohibited from discriminating against women
where a BFOQ of “maleness” exists. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the decision.
In Canada (Attorney General) v. Martin (1997), the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed a
decision rendered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which found the compulsory
retirement age (different ages but the maximum was 55) of the Canadian Forces to be a
discriminatory practice and ordered compensation to a number of the respondents who
had been compulsory retired. The Court concluded that the finding that the compulsory
retirement age was not a bona fide occupational requirement was open to the Tribunal on
the evidence. Thus the Court refused to interfere with the Tribunal’s conclusion that the
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Forces could have put a system of testing in place to protect safety as an alternative to the
compulsory retirement age regulations.
In Godbout v. Longueuil (City) (1997), the appellant city adopted a resolution requiring
all new permanent employees to reside within its boundaries. As a condition of obtaining
permanent employment as a radio operator for the city police force, the respondent signed
a declaration promising that she would establish her principal residence in the city and
that she would continue to live there for as long as she remained in the city's employ.
Later, she moved into a new house she had purchased in a neighbouring municipality.
When she refused to move back within the city's limits, her employment was terminated.
The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the city's residence requirement unjustifiably
infringes section 5 of the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (“respect for
[one’s] private life”) by virtue of both the intimately personal considerations that factor
into one's choice as to where to live and the very significant effects that choice inevitably
has on one's personal affairs, the right to be free from unjustified interference in making a
decision as to where to establish and maintain one’s home falls within the scope of the
Québec Charter's guarantee of “respect for [one’s] private life.”
In Vriend v. Alberta (1998), the appellant was given a permanent, full-time position in a
college. In 1990, in response to an inquiry by the president of the college, Mr. Vriend
disclosed that he was homosexual. In early 1991, the college’s board of governors
adopted a position statement on homosexuality, and shortly thereafter, Mr. Vriend’s
employment was terminated by the college. The sole reason given was his noncompliance with the college’s policy on homosexual practice. He attempted to file a
complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission on the grounds that his employer
had discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation, but the Commission
advised Mr. Vriend that he could not make a complaint under the Individual’s Rights
Protection Act (IRPA), because it did not include sexual orientation as a protected
ground. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the first and most obvious effect of the
exclusion of sexual orientation is that lesbians or gay men who experience discrimination
on the basis of their sexual orientation are denied recourse to the mechanisms set up by
the IRPA to make a formal complaint of discrimination and seek a legal remedy. The
IRPA in its under-inclusive state therefore denies substantive equality to homosexuals
(guaranteed by section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). The Court
concluded that reading sexual orientation into the impugned provisions of the IRPA is the
most appropriate way of remedying this under-inclusive legislation.
In British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU
(1999), the British Columbia government established minimum physical fitness
standards, including an aerobic standard, for its forest firefighters. The claimant, a
female firefighter who had in the past performed her work satisfactorily, failed to meet
the aerobic standard after four attempts and was dismissed. Evidence demonstrated that,
owing to physiological differences, most women have a lower aerobic capacity than most
men and that, unlike most men, most women cannot increase their aerobic capacity
enough with training to meet the aerobic standard. The Supreme Court of Canada stated
that the Government failed to demonstrate that this particular aerobic standard is
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reasonably necessary to identify those persons who are able to perform the tasks of a
forest firefighter safely and efficiently.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
In Waldman v. British Columbia (Medical Services Commission) (1999), the petitioners
were three newly-qualified physicians, who were trained outside of British Columbia.
The Medical Services Commission of British Columbia issued restricted numbers
pursuant to measures restricting new billers to 50 percent billing numbers with
exemptions for doctors practising as a locum or in a community that demonstrated a
medical need for services and for physicians who were engaged in residency programs
when the measures were enacted. The stated objective of the measures was to control the
costs of health care and to promote an equitable distribution of medical services
throughout the province. The British Columbia Court of Appeal held that when the
“grandfathering” provisions in the permanent measures are spent, the dividing line will
be between those physicians established in practice and those seeking to enter practice.
The Court characterized the measures as being of “general application” applying across
the board to all applicants for new billing numbers. It did not see any distinction being
drawn “primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence” which would
be prohibited by section 6 (3) a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
However, the Court held that the provisions giving preferential treatment to University of
British Columbia graduates and those in training as of a certain date were inconsistent
with individual mobility rights enshrined in section 6 of the Charter. Such measures
seem to clearly differentiate between applicants on the basis of province of present or
previous residence.
Human rights legislation
In Battlefords and District Co-operative Ltd. v. Gibbs (1996), an employee of the
appellant became disabled as a result of a mental disorder and was unable to perform the
duties of her occupation. Under the terms of the policy, any employee who was rendered
unable to work was provided with a replacement income. If the disability in question was
a mental illness, however, the policy provided that the replacement income benefit would
terminate after two years, even if the person was unable ever to resume employment,
unless the person with the mental disability remained in a mental institution. The
employee’s insurance benefits were terminated after two years. Had she been unable to
work because of a physical disability, the income replacement benefit would have
continued, without regard to institutionalization. A board of inquiry determined that the
policy was discriminatory with respect to “term or condition of employment” because of
a disability and violated section 16 (1) of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. The
Supreme Court of Canada upheld the ruling.
In Ontario Nurses’ Association v. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital (1997), the Ontario
Court of Appeal had to deal with the legality of certain provisions of the central
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collective agreement produced by collective bargaining between the Ontario Nurses’
Association and a number of hospitals in the province of Ontario. The Ontario Nurses’
Association argued that certain provisions in the collective agreement discriminate on the
basis of disability in contravention of the Ontario Human Rights Code. The provisions at
issue concern seniority, service accrual and the employers’ contribution to subsidized
benefit plans. For nurses on unpaid leave of absence and in receipt of workers’
compensation benefits or long-term disability benefits, seniority only accrues for up to
one year. The Ontario Court of appeal concluded that the seniority provisions violate the
Ontario Human Rights Code on the basis of disability.
In Public Service Alliance of Canada - and - Treasury Board (1998), the complaint
before the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleged that the Treasury Board, the
department responsible for the federal government's relations with its employees, was in
breach of section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, by maintaining “differences in
wages between male and female employees employed in the same establishment who are
performing work of equal value.” The complaint alleged that employees in the six
predominantly female occupational groups were being paid less than employees in the
53 predominantly male groups included in a joint study (undertaken by the Treasury
Board and the public service unions) who were performing work of equal value to that of
members of the female groups. The Tribunal upheld the complaint. The Government and
its employees subsequently came to an agreement.
In British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU
(1999) (discussed above), the Supreme Court of Canada stated that the claimant having
established a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden shifts to the Government to
demonstrate that the aerobic standard is a bona fide occupational requirement (BFOR).
The Court set out the following three-step test for determining whether a prima facie
discriminatory standard is a BFOR. An employer may justify the impugned standard by
establishing on the balance of probabilities: (1) that the employer adopted the standard
for a purpose rationally connected to the performance of the job; (2) that the employer
adopted the particular standard in an honest and good faith belief that it was necessary to
the fulfilment of that legitimate work-related purpose; and (3) that the standard is
reasonably necessary to the accomplishment of that legitimate work-related purpose. To
show that the standard is reasonably necessary, it must be demonstrated that it is
impossible to accommodate individual employees sharing the characteristics of the
claimant without imposing undue hardship upon the employer. This approach is
premised on the need to develop standards that accommodate the potential contributions
of all employees in so far as this can be done without undue hardship to the employer.
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
In Delisle v. Canada (Deputy Attorney General) (1999), the Supreme Court of Canada
recalled some principles as to the freedom of association guaranteed by section 2 d) of
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: it protects the freedom to establish,
belong to and maintain an association; it does not protect an activity solely on the ground
that the activity is a foundational or essential purpose of an association; it protects the
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exercise in association of the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals; and it
protects the exercise in association of the lawful rights of individuals. However,
section 2 d) of the Charter does not include the right to establish a particular type of
association defined in a particular statute. Only the establishment of an independent
employee association and the exercise in association of the lawful rights of its members
are protected under section 2 d). There is no general obligation for the government to
provide a particular legislative framework for its employees to exercise their collective
In U.F.C.W., Local 1518 v. Kmart Canada Ltd (1999), the Supreme Court of Canada
indicated that the importance of work for individuals has been consistently recognized
and stressed. A person’s employment is an essential component of his or her sense of
identity, self-worth and emotional well-being. For employees in the labour relations
context, freedom of expression becomes not only an important but an essential
component of labour relations. Protected expression includes handing out leaflets. In
this case, employees handed out two types of leaflet, describing the employer’s alleged
unfair practices and urging customers to shop elsewhere. The activity was carried out
peacefully and it did not impede public access to the stores. Neither was there any
evidence of verbal or physical intimidation. The distribution and circulation of leaflets
has for centuries been recognized as an effective and economical method of both
providing information and assisting rational persuasion. Peaceful leafleting by a few
individuals has as a general rule been accepted as a lawful means of disseminating
information. The question of whether leafleting in a particular case crosses the line and
becomes impermissible persuasion is largely a factual one. In this case, the infringement
of freedom of expression cannot be justified under section 1 of the Charter which
prescribes that rights and freedoms are subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed
by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
Similarly, in Allsco Building Products Ltd. v. U.F.C.W., Local 1288P (1999), the
Supreme Court of Canada concluded that members of the union, employees of Allsco,
can engage in the peaceful distribution of leaflets outside the premises of stores that sell
Allsco products. The leaflet requested that the reader “please think twice” before
purchasing Allsco products or the vinyl siding that Allsco distributed, because Allsco had
locked union members out of their jobs.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
Canada Pension Plan
In Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration) (1995), a 30-year-old
woman without dependent children or disability, was denied survivor’s benefits under the
Canadian Pension Plan (CPP). The CPP gradually reduces the survivor’s pension for
able-bodied surviving spouses without dependent children who are between the ages of
35 and 45 by 1/120th of the full rate for each month that the claimant’s age is less than
45 years at the time of the contributor’s death so that the threshold age to receive benefits
is age 35. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that a section 15 of the Canadian
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Charter of Rights and Freedoms analysis (equality rights) should proceed on the basis of
three broad inquiries: (1) whether there is a differential treatment for the purpose of
section 15 (1) of the Charter; (2) whether this treatment was based on one or more of the
enumerated grounds in section 15 (1) of the Charter on analogous grounds; and,
(3) whether the differential treatment brings into play the purpose of section 15 (1),
i.e. does the law, in purpose or effect, perpetuate the view that persons with temporary
disabilities are less capable or less worthy of recognition or value as human beings or as
members of Canadian society? The Court concluded that the differential treatment of
younger people does not reflect or promote the notion that they are less capable or less
deserving of concern, respect, and consideration, when the dual perspectives of long-term
security and the greater opportunity of youth are considered. Nor does the differential
treatment perpetuate the view that people in this class are less capable or less worthy of
recognition or value as human beings or as members of Canadian society. Parliament’s
intent in enacting a survivor’s pension scheme with benefits allocated according to age
appears to have been to allocate funds to those persons whose ability to overcome need
was weakest. The concern was to enhance personal dignity and freedom by ensuring a
basic level of long-term financial security to persons whose personal situation makes
them unable to achieve this goal which is so important to life and dignity.
Unemployment insurance benefits
In Schafer v. Canada (Attorney General) (1997), the claimants challenged the section of
the Unemployment Insurance Act (now Employment Insurance Act) which provides a
maternity or pregnancy benefit to biological mothers for a period of up to 15 weeks.
Another provision provides all parents, whether biological or adoptive, a child-care
benefit of up to ten weeks. They claimed that the combined effect of these provisions,
which extend a biological family a total of 25 weeks paid leave and an adoptive family
only 10 weeks, was discriminatory and in violation of section 15 of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms (equality rights). The Ontario Court of Appeal
concluded that it is not necessarily discriminatory for governments to treat biological
mothers differently from other parents, including adoptive parents. In order to cope with
the physiological changes that occur during childbearing, biological mothers require a
flexible period of leave that may be used during pregnancy, labour, birth and the
postpartum period. Indeed, such leave provisions may be necessary in order to ensure the
equality of women generally, who have historically suffered disadvantage in the
workplace due to pregnancy-related discrimination. However, section 11 (7) of the same
Act, which provides for a five-week extension of child-care benefits for children
(biological or adopted) suffering from certain types of medical conditions but only for
those six months of age and older, discriminates between children on the basis of age and
is discriminatory.
In Sollbach v. Canada (1999), the claimant quit her job in Toronto to follow her husband
to his job in another city. She was eligible to receive regular unemployment benefits for
27 weeks but after 18 weeks these benefits at her request were converted to maternity
benefits due to her pregnancy. Maternity benefits were then paid for 12 weeks. Once she
was paid 18 weeks of regular benefits and 12 weeks of maternity benefits, the
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Commission refused any further payments. Ms. Sollbach claims that she was entitled to
27 weeks of regular benefits, 15 weeks of maternity benefits and 10 weeks of parental
benefits for a total of 52 weeks of payments. She argued that since these 52 weeks were
limited to 30 weeks by section 11 of the Unemployment Insurance Act (now Employment
Insurance Act), that section 11 was contrary to section 15 of the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms (equality rights). The Federal Court of Appeal concluded that
section 11 (6) of the Unemployment Insurance Act does not draw a distinction between
pregnant women and others. Indeed all recipients (e.g. a single father or single male who
is injured) of special benefits are subject to the 30-week limitation. The Court found that
the Applicant has failed to show that pregnant women are discriminated against as a
group under the legislation. In its opinion, “a reasonable person under similar
circumstances as the claimant” would not conclude that section 11 (6) demeans a
claimant’s dignity.
Social assistance
In Masse v. Ontario (Ministry of Community and Social Services) (1996), the applicants
were social assistance recipients who claimed that a 21.6 percent reduction in benefits
was unlawful and contrary to their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Recipients who were disabled, permanently unemployable for medical
reasons or aged were not affected. The applicants claimed a violation of their right to
“life” and “security” as guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter because they had been left
with living standards below an irreducible minimum. They argued also that it was
contrary to their equality rights (section 15 of the Charter) to force them as welfare
recipients to bear an inordinate share of the budget cuts without consideration of their
basic requirements. The Ontario Court (General Division) stated that section 7 of the
Charter did not provide the right to minimal social assistance. The applicants were not
deprived of life or of security of person because the impugned legislation actually
provided social assistance benefits. Recipients of social assistance are not protected as an
analogous ground under section 15 (equality rights) of the Charter because they are a
disparate and heterogeneous group, not a discrete and insular minority based on
immutable characteristics. The applicants also were not a named protected group under
section 15 of the Charter.
In Mohamed v. Metropolitan Toronto (Department of Social Services General Manager)
(1996), the appellant was a child under 16 years old. She was in Canada as a refugee and
had no relatives. Because of her age, she was ineligible for welfare assistance pursuant to
the General Welfare Assistance Act. However, she was living with Jawahir Adan in a
boarder/landlord relationship and the Children’s Aid Society provided cheques to
Mrs. Adan to allow her to care for the appellant. At all times the Society was prepared to
take the appellant into care, placing her in foster care or a group home. The Divisional
Court of Ontario held that the age requirement violated section 15 of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms because age was a ground specifically enumerated in
section 15. In addition, the exclusion also constituted discrimination since the excluded
group was a vulnerable group in society. However, the discrimination was justified
under section 1 of the Charter. The objectives of the Act and Regulation included
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ensuring proper provision for all children including the receipt of support from an
appropriate source, and promoting the integrity of the family unit and not encouraging
run-away children. These objectives were sufficiently important to override the
appellant's constitutional rights.
In Ontario (Attorney General) v. Pyke (1998), Ms Pyke was 16 years old, single and
employable. She had moved out from her family home to live with her boyfriend and
had voluntarily withdrawn from parental control so as not to be entitled to support under
the Family Law Act. There was no evidence of abuse by her parents. If the child leaves
home because of abuse or the parents have forced the child to leave, then there would not
be a voluntary withdrawal from parental control. Section 7 (4) of Regulation 537 under
the General Welfare Assistance Act provided that an employable person under 18 was not
eligible for assistance unless the person was the sole head of a family or special
circumstances existed. The Ontario Divisional Court stated that it has been generally
recognized that the best place for persons 16-17 to live is a non-abusive family home.
This is consistent with the family being recognized in our society as the basic social unit.
The eligibility of this age group was not determined by a uniform rule established by age
and based on stereotypes or presumed characteristics. Determination of eligibility for
this age group required an individual assessment of the actual merits, capacity and
circumstances of each claimant. The requirement that applicants aged 16 and 17
demonstrate special circumstances was based upon their actual circumstances and their
legal entitlement to support under the Family Law Act and the General Welfare
Assistance Act. The Regulation did not make a distinction which violated the right to
equality under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In Gosselin v. Québec (Attorney General) (1999), the appellant claimed that
paragraph 29 a) of the Règlement sur l'aide sociale (Québec) was unconstitutional
because it infringed his equality rights and right to security as guaranteed by sections 15
and 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that this infringement was
not justified under section 1 of the Charter. The effect of paragraph 29 a) of the
Regulation was to reduce by about two-thirds the amount of the welfare benefit paid to
recipients under age 30, employable and living alone. The Regulation was repealed with
the passage of the Income Security Act that came into effect on August 1, 1989. The
three judges of the Québec Court of Appeal concluded that the contested regulatory
provision effectively created a distinction based on age. However the majority of the
Court concluded that the measure being contested was part of a general policy in a
coherent whole and the measures taken to reduce the risk resulting from the introduction
of the policy for young people under age 30 were reasonable. Accordingly, the
distinction was justified under section 1 of the Canadian Charter. The three judges found
there was no violation of section 7 of the Canadian Charter since its intention was simply
to ensure the right of every Canadian citizen not to be subjected to unjustified personal
coercion. The right for which the appellant claimed protection was a purely economic
right. Section 45 of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (the Québec Charter)
provides that “every person in need has a right, for himself and his family, to measures of
financial assistance and to social measures provided for by law, susceptible of ensuring
such person an acceptable standard of living.” The majority of the Court concluded that
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this section guaranteed a Québec citizen’s right of access without discrimination to the
measures of financial assistance and social measures already provided by the law but was
not intended to guarantee a decent standard of living. This was a personal right of access
but not a personal right affecting the sufficiency of the measure. This case was heard by
the Supreme Court of Canada on October 29, 2001, and judgment was reserved.
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
In Augustus v. Gosset (1996), the appellant brought a civil liability action against G, a
police officer, and the Communauté urbaine de Montréal following the death of her 19year-old son. In addition to claiming compensatory damages for her son’s death under
the Civil Code of Lower Canada, the appellant argued that she is entitled to compensation
for interference with her parental rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. She submitted that her right to continue her association with her son as a
parent was taken from her as a result of the respondent Gosset’s wrongful acts. The
Supreme Court of Canada stated that neither the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms nor the Québec Charter protects the right to maintain and continue a parentchild relationship.
In Winnipeg Child and Family Services (Northwest Area) v. G. (D.F.) (1997), G. (D.F.)
was five months pregnant with her fourth child. She was addicted to glue sniffing, which
may damage the nervous system of a developing foetus. As a result of her addiction, two
of her previous children were born permanently disabled and are permanent wards of the
state. The issue was whether a court could order that G. (D.F.) be placed in the custody
of the Director of Child and Family Services and detained in a health centre for treatment
until the birth of her child for the purpose of protecting her foetus from the mother’s
allegedly harmful conduct. The Supreme Court of Canada held that according to the
current state of the law in Canada, the foetus is not recognized as a legal or juridical
person. A pregnant woman and her unborn child are one and to make orders protecting
foetuses would radically impinge on the fundamental liberties of the mother, both as to
lifestyle choices and how and as to where she chooses to live and be. The majority of the
Court concluded that given the major change in the law and the complex ramifications of
the revision sought, it was not the sort of change that the courts should make but was
better left to the legislature.
In Dobson (Litigation Guardian of) v. Dobson (1999), Mrs. Dobson was 27 weeks
pregnant when the vehicle she was driving collided with another resulting in prenatal
injuries to her foetus. These prenatal injuries caused permanent mental and physical
impairment. The child brought an action for damages against his mother alleging that the
collision was caused by her negligent driving. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that
in light of the very demanding biological reality that only women can become pregnant
and bear children, the courts should be hesitant to impose additional burdens upon
pregnant women. The actions of a pregnant woman, including driving, are inextricably
linked to her familial role, her working life, and her rights of privacy, bodily integrity and
autonomous decision-making. Moreover, the judicial recognition of this cause of action
would involve severe psychological consequences for the relationship between mother
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and child, as well as the family unit as a whole. The imposition of tort liability in this
context would have profound effects upon every pregnant woman and upon Canadian
society in general. Such after-the-fact judicial scrutiny of the subtle and complicated
factors affecting a woman’s pregnancy may make life for women who are pregnant or
who are merely contemplating pregnancy intolerable. The best course, therefore, is to
allow the duty of a mother to her foetus to remain a moral obligation which, for the vast
majority of women, is already freely recognized and respected without compulsion by
law. Moreover, there can be no satisfactory judicial articulation of a standard of conduct
for pregnant women. A rule based on a “reasonable pregnant woman” standard raises the
spectre of tort liability for lifestyle choices, and undermines the privacy and autonomy
rights of women.
In New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G.(J.) (1999), the
New Brunswick Minister of Health and Community Services was granted custody of the
appellant’s three children for a six-month period. He later sought an extension of the
custody order for a further period of up to six months. G.(J.) who was indigent and
receiving social assistance at the time, applied for legal aid in order to retain a lawyer to
represent her at the custody hearing. Her application was denied because, at the time,
custody applications were not covered under the legal aid guidelines. The Supreme Court
of Canada concluded that State removal of a child from parental custody constitutes a
serious interference with the psychological integrity of the parent, therefore with the right
to security of the person guaranteed by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Besides the obvious distress arising from the loss of companionship of the
child, direct state interference with the parent-child relationship, through a procedure in
which the relationship is subject to state inspection and review, is a gross intrusion into a
private and intimate sphere. Section 7 of the Charter guarantees every parent the right to
a fair hearing when the state seeks to obtain custody of their children. For the hearing to
be fair, the parent must have an opportunity to present his or her case effectively.
Effective parental participation at the hearing is essential for determining the best
interests of the child in circumstances where the parent seeks to maintain custody of the
child. In the present circumstances, the absence of counsel for G.(J.) would result in an
unfair custody hearing. The Court concluded that the New Brunswick government was
under a constitutional obligation to provide G.(J.) with state-funded counsel in the
particular circumstances of this case.
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
The Québec Human Rights Tribunal has handed down some other decisions dealing with
discrimination in housing. For example, in Gilbert and Commission des droits de la
personne v. Ianiro (1996) and Délicieux and Québec (Commission des droits de la
personne et des droits de la jeunesse) v. Yazbeck (2001), the Tribunal emphasized that the
right to adequate housing is recognized in article 11 of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In the first case, Mrs. Gilbert was refused housing
due to her social status (welfare recipient) and the Tribunal sentenced the landlord to pay
her compensation for damages. In the second case, the Tribunal concluded that the
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landlord had refused to rent a dwelling to Mrs. Délicieux due to her colour, race and
ethnic background and sentenced the landlord to pay compensation to the complainant.
In R. v. Clarke (1998), Mr. Clarke was accused of wilfully damaging a building that had
been vacant since 1992. Mr. Clarke described himself as an organizer for the Ontario
Coalition Against Poverty, a homeless advocacy group. He himself was not homeless. It
had been the Coalition’s objective to enter the building, clean it up, and remain there for
24 hours. In doing so, it hoped that they could dramatize politically the need for
concerted action to deal with the homeless problem and negotiate to remain in the
building for a longer period. The Coalition decided that April 19, 1997, would be an
occasion for more aggressive action, specifically a highly publicized event at which they
would try to occupy the building. On April 19, 1997, after a crowd gathered outside the
building, Mr. Clarke climbed a ladder and slightly pried some boards away from a
window using a crowbar. Clarke was pulled down from the ladder and arrested by
police. In his defence to the charge of mischief, Clarke argued a right to adequate
housing under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ontario
Court of Justice, Provincial Division, rejected the defences invoked by Clarke and found
him guilty. The Court stated that there was no evidence establishing that what Clarke did
was necessary for the protection of himself or some identified person legally under his
care from immediate harm or danger. Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms was not breached as Mr. Clarke himself was not homeless.
In Bia-Domingo and Québec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la
jeunesse) v. Sinatra (1999), the complainant alleged that the defendant had infringed his
right to equal treatment by refusing to conclude a legal act with him, a lease for an
apartment, for illegal reasons of discrimination, namely his social status and ethnic
background. The Québec Human Rights Tribunal recalled that the right to adequate
housing is recognized in various international instruments including the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights. The Court ordered the defendant to pay Mr. Bia-Domingo damages in
compensation, moral damages for infringement of his right to recognition and the full and
equal exercise of his rights without discrimination and infringement of his right to protect
his dignity as well as an additional amount in exemplary damages due to the unlawful
and deliberate infringement of his rights.
In M. v. H. (1999), M. and H. are women who lived together in a same-sex relationship
for ten years. In 1992, M. left the common home and sought an order for partition and
sale of the house and other relief. M. included a claim for support pursuant to the
provisions of the Family Law Act (FLA), which allows either a man or a woman (married
and unmarried couples) to apply for spousal support. The FLA draws a distinction by
specifically according rights to individual members of unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex
couples, which by omission it fails to accord to individual members of cohabiting samesex couples. The Supreme Court of Canada found that same-sex couples were denied
access to the court-enforced system of support based entirely on their sexual orientation
and held that this distinction offends section 15 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms, and that it is not saved by section 1 of the Charter (it does not constitute a
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reasonable limit that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society). The
Court reaffirmed that legislation that provides spousal benefits and excludes gays and
lesbians from its purview will, in the vast majority of cases, be held to be discriminatory
under section 15 (1). The Court declared that the words “a man and woman” were to be
read out of the definition of “spouse” in section 29 and replaced with the words “two
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
In C.D.P. v. Dr. G., T.D.P.Q. QUÉBEC (1995), the Québec Human Rights Tribunal
concluded that in refusing to treat P. M., a person living with HIV, Dr. G. and his team
exercised a liberty that violated the provisions of the Québec Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and they acted in a discriminatory manner for which there is no acceptable
defence. The Tribunal ordered the defendant to pay P. M. moral damages and ordered
the defendant to stop systematically refusing HIV carriers as patients in his clinic.
In Québec (Public Curator) v. Syndicat national des employés de l'hôpital St-Ferdinand
(1996), the unionized employees of a hospital for the mentally disabled participated in
illegal strikes. The Public Curator, acting on behalf of the patients in the hospital during
the strikes, instituted a class action against the unions representing the employees. The
trial judge concluded that the unions had committed a civil fault by provoking, inciting or
participating in the illegal strikes and that the patients had suffered prejudice. The
Unions were condemned by the Québec Superior Court or Court of Appeal to pay
compensatory damages to each member of the group covered by the class action, with
some exceptions, and exemplary damages. The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the
judgment. The Supreme Court agreed that, in considering the situation of the mentally
disabled, the nature of the care that is normally provided to them is of fundamental
importance. The majority of the Court of Appeal was right in concluding that the unions
had unlawfully interfered with the safeguard of the patients’ dignity guaranteed by the
Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms although the discomfort suffered by the
patients was transient and despite the fact that these patients might have had no sense of
In Eldridge et al. v. British Columbia (Attorney General) et al (1997), the Supreme Court
of Canada was asked whether the Medical and Health Care Services Act and the Hospital
Insurance Act breached section 15 (equality rights) of the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms because they did not provide for the public funding of sign language
interpretation for effective communication with deaf patients. The failure to provide sign
language interpretation to the deaf so as to provide effective communication between
physician and patient to the same degree as the hearing resulted in adverse effect
discrimination contrary to section 15 (1) of the Charter.
In Clarken v. Ontario (Health Insurance Plan) (1998), students coming from foreign
countries who are attending Canadian educational institutions were not considered
ordinarily “resident” in Ontario and thus have been denied benefits under Ontario Health
Insurance Plan (OHIP). The Ontario Divisional Court concluded that the distinction
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between foreign students and others in society is not based on national origin but
residency in Ontario. The residency requirement also applies certain limitations to
students from other provinces who are Canadian citizens: these students are also barred
from receiving OHIP coverage until after a period of residence of three months in the
province. The reference to immigration status in the definition of resident reflects the
overall objective of the OHIP scheme, which is to provide health care coverage to
residents of Ontario.
Article 13: Right to Education
Special needs of disabled students
In Eaton v. Brant County Board of Education (1997), at her parents’ request, Emily
Eaton, a 12 year old girl with cerebral palsy, was placed in her neighbourhood school.
After three years, the teachers and assistants concluded that Emily’s placement in the
regular classroom was not in her best interests and might well harm her. The
Identification, Placement and Review Committee decided that Emily should be placed in
a special education class. The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the decision did
not contravene section 15 (equality rights) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms because it did not constitute the imposition of a disadvantage or burden nor did
it constitute a withholding of a benefit or advantage from Emily, because the decision
was made in her best interests. The Court stated that segregation can be both protective
of equality and violative of equality depending on the person and state of disability. In
some cases, special education is a necessary adaptation of the mainstream world which
gives some disabled pupils access to the learning environment they need in order to have
an equal opportunity in education. While integration should be recognized as a norm of
general application because of the benefits it generally provides, a presumption in favour
of integrated schooling would work to the disadvantage of pupils who require special
education in order to achieve equality. Integration can be either a benefit or a burden
depending on whether the individual can profit from the advantages that integration
provides. The Court stated that in the case of discrimination on the basis of disability, the
discrimination does not lie only in the attribution of untrue characteristics but in the
failure to take account of actual characteristics and to make reasonable accommodation
for them.
In Concerned Parents for Children With Learning Disabilities Inc. Saskatchewan
(Minister of Education) (1998), the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench decided that
the plaintiff’s action was viable and should be allowed to proceed. The plaintiffs are six
children said to be of average to above average intelligence who, despite their intellectual
capabilities, all have a history of academic and social failure within the regular classroom
setting. They claim that the Government has breached its duties to provide education and
educational services “appropriate to the needs and circumstances of a child with a
learning disability.” It is conceded that the legislation at issue provides for the education
of learning disabled children, that such children are not excluded from the general
services provided to other children, and, indeed, that some special accommodation is
accorded to them on the basis of their disability. It is alleged that, nonetheless, failure to
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provide the specific special segregated programming claimed for severely learning
disabled children renders them unable to obtain the benefits of a basic education
available, generally, to children who are not similarly disabled. The legal bases for the
Government’s duty would include Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
section 13 of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code; and sections 7 and 15 (1) of the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court concluded that the plaintiffs’
claim is viable on the basis of an allegation of breach of a duty to accommodate the needs
of children with learning disabilities within the public education system in accordance
with the requirements of section 15 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and the Supreme Court’s decision in Eldridge (See above — right to health) and did not
make a final determination on the relevance of each of the other legal bases alleged.
Minority language educational rights
In Arsenault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island (1999), the Supreme Court of Canada
declared that the parents of the Francophone minority in the Summerside area were
entitled to have their children taught in French at the elementary level in French-language
educational institutions funded in their area rather than in a distant community. The
Court stressed that section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (rights to
instruction in the minority language) is intended to correct, at the national level, the
progressive historical erosion of official language groups and make both official language
groups equal partners in the realm of education. The school is the most important
institution for the survival of the official language minority. Section 23 of the Charter
imposed a constitutional obligation on the province to provide instruction in the minority
official language to the children of parents addressed by section 23 where numbers
warranted. The Court further indicated that section 23 was based on the premise that real
equality required different treatment for official language minorities where necessary to
reflect their situation and special needs in order to guarantee them a level of education
equivalent to that of the official language majority. This capacitation is essential to
redress past injustices and guarantee that the specific needs of the minority language
community are the primary consideration in all decisions involving linguistic or cultural
issues. The Court ruled that the representatives of the official language community were
entitled to a certain degree of control in that institution independent of the existence of a
minority language board. The province could control the content and qualitative
standards of courses of study for official language communities insofar as these did not
negatively affect the minority’s legitimate linguistic and cultural concerns.
In Abbey v. Essex County Board of Education (1999), Mrs. Abbey, an Anglophone
mother living in Ontario, applied to register her eldest child at a French-language school
in Essex County, Ontario. The Ontario legislation gave admission committees the
discretionary power to accept non-Francophone children in French-language education
programs. This power was exercised in Mrs. Abbey’s favour and her child was legally
enrolled in the French-language school. Mrs. Abbey moved to another community the
following year and the local French-language school agreed to admit not only
Mrs. Abbey’s eldest child but two of her other children as well. When the family
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returned to Essex County in 1996, the local Protestant school board refused to pay the
tuition fees for Mrs. Abbey’s three children to attend a French-language school run by a
Catholic school board. Their admission was dependent on this payment. Section 23 (2)
of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that “citizens of Canada of
whom any child has received or is receiving primary or secondary school instruction in
English or French in Canada, have the right to have all their children receive primary and
secondary school instruction in the same language.” The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled
that the rights to instruction in the minority language did not belong only to children of
citizens whose mother tongue was that of the Francophone or Anglophone minority in the
province where they were living or who had received their elementary school instruction
in that language. These rights were recognized equally to all children of Canadian
citizens where one child had received instruction at the primary or secondary level in
French or English in Canada.
Article 15: Right to Participate in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
Cultural life
In R. v. Van der Peet (1996), the Supreme Court of Canada decided that the test to be
used to identify whether an applicant has established an Aboriginal right protected by
section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 is the following: in order to be an Aboriginal
right an activity must be an element of a practice, custom or tradition integral to the
distinctive culture of the Aboriginal group claiming the right. In this that case, the
appellant failed to demonstrate that the exchange of fish for money or other goods was an
integral part of the distinctive Stolo culture which existed prior to contact with the
Europeans and was therefore protected by section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act, 1982.
In Lalonde v. Health Services Restructuring Commission (1999), the Ontario care
restructuring commission had recommended that Hôpital Montfort, the only Francophone
teaching hospital in the Province of Ontario, become chiefly an ambulatory care centre,
offer one-day treatments and maintain a limited number of beds for low-risk obstetrics
and an emergency facility. The Hôpital Montfort board of trustees contested this
decision, forcefully maintaining that the transformation of the hospital in the way
prescribed by the directives would cause irreparable harm to the Franco-Ontarian
community, that is to say: it would be impossible for Hôpital Montfort to continue to
offer health care services and medical training in a Francophone environment;
accordingly, Hôpital Montfort would not be able to continue to play its role as an
institution essential to the survival of the Franco-Ontarian community; the direct result of
implementing the directives would be to increase the rate of assimilation of the FrancoOntarian minority to the Anglophone majority, a rate that was already very high. Ontario
Divisional Court ruled that the issue in the case was not just the matter of a minority
language or the question of minority instruction. The issue turned on broader concepts
that involved the preservation of the Francophone multicultural heritage of Canadians. In
view of the constitutional mandate to protect and respect minority rights — a “distinct
principle that underlies our Constitution” and a “powerful normative force” — the
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Commission was not free to execute only its mandate of “restructuring health services”
and ignore Hôpital Montfort’s broader constitutional role as a real Francophone centre,
necessary to the growth and enhancement of the Franco-Ontarian identity as a cultural
and linguistic minority in Ontario and the protection of this culture from assimilation.
The Court therefore rejected the Commission’s directive and dismissed the case for fresh
study by the Minister of Health. The case was heard and taken under advisement by the
Ontario Court of Appeal.
Case citations for the Review of Jurisprudence
Abbey c. Conseil de l’éducation du comté d’Essex, (1999) 42 O.R. (3d) 490 (C.A.).
Allsco Building Products Ltd. V. U.F.C.W., Local 1288P, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 1136.
Arseneault-Cameron v. Prince Edward Island, [1999] 3 S.C.R. 851.
Augustus v. Gosset, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 268.
Battlefords and District Co-operative Ltd. v. Gibbs, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 566.
Bia-Domingo et Québec (Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse) c.
Sinatra, [1999] J.T.D.P.Q. no 19.
British Columbia (Public Service Employee Relations Commission) v. BCGSEU, [1999] 3
S.C.R. 3.
Canada (Attorney General) v. Martin, [1997] F.C.J. No. 304, judgment rendered on March 18,
Canadian Egg Marketing Agency v. Richardson, [1998] 3 S.C.R. 157.
C.D.P. v. Dr. G., T.D.P.Q., (1995-04-11) QCTDP 200-53-000002-944.
Clarken v. Ontario (Health Insurance Plan), [1998] O.J. No. 1933.
Concerned parents for Children With Learning Disabilities Inc. Saskatchewan (Minister of
education), [1998] S.J No. 566.
Delisle v. Canada (Deputy Attorney General), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 989.
Dobson (Litigation Guardian of) v. Dobson, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 753.
Eaton v. Brant County Board of Education, [1997] 1 S.C.R. 241.
Eldridge et al. v. British Columbia (Attorney General) et al., [1997] 3 S.C.R. 624.
Gilbert et Commission des droits de la personne du Québec c. Ianiro, [1996] J.T.D.P.Q. no. 13.
Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844.
Gosselin c. Québec (Procureur général), [1999] J.Q. no 1365. Appeal heard by the Supreme
Court of Canada, judgment reserved.
Lalonde v. Commission de Restructuration des Service de Santé, [1999] O.J. No. 4489. Appeal
heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Judgment reserved.
Law v. Canada (Minister of Employment and Immigration), [1999] 1 S.C.R. 497.
M. v. H., [1999] 2 S.C.R. 3
Masse v. Ontario (Ministry of Community and Social Services)], 134 D.L.R. (4th) 20, leave to
appeal dismissed by the Ontario Court of Appeal ([1996] O.J. No. 1526) and by the Supreme
Court of Canada ([1996] S.C.C.A. No. 373).
Mohamed v. Metropolitan Toronto (Department of Social Services General Manager), [1996]
O.J. No. 612.
New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G.(J.), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 46
Newfoundland Association of Public Employees v. Newfoundland (Green Bay Health Care
Centre), [1996] 2 S.C.R. 3.
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Ontario (Attorney General) v. Pyke, [1998] O.J. No. 4125.
Ontario Nurses' Association v. Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, judgment rendered by the
Ontario Court of Appeal, 169 D.L.R. (4th) 489. Application for leave dismissed by the Supreme
Court of Canada.
Public Service Alliance Of Canada - And -Treasury Board T.D. 7/98, decision rendered on July
29, 1998.
Québec (Public Curator) v. Syndicat national des employés de l’hôpital St-Ferdinand, [1996] 3
S.C.R. 211.
R. v. Clarke [1998] O.J. No. 5259 (Ontario Court of Justice, Provincial Division, judgment
rendered on December 15, 1998).
R. v. Van der Peet, [1996] 2 S.C.R. 507.
Reference Re Secession of Québec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217.
Schafer v. Canada (Attorney General), 35 O.R. (3d) 1. [1997] S.C.C.A. No. 516.
Sollbach v. Canada, [1999] F.C.J. No. 1912.
U.F.C.W., Local 1518 v. Kmart Canada Ltd, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 1083.
Vriend v. Alberta, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 493
Waldman v. British Columbia (Medical Services Commission), [1999] BCCA 508.
Walker v. Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.C.A.), [1993] P.E.I.J. No. 111 and [1995] 2 S.C.R. 407.
Winnipeg Child and Family Services (Northwest Area) v. G. (D.F.), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 925.
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Part III
Measures Adopted by the
Government of Canada
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Fiscal policy
As detailed in the Introduction to this report, by the mid-90s, Canada was coming out of
an economic decline. The Government of Canada faced the challenge of fiscal
responsibility and succeeded in bringing its fiscal deficit under control. In 1994, the
deficit amounted to $42 billion. In the space of only four years, fiscal policy actions
resulted in the elimination of the deficit and for the fiscal year 1997-1998, the
Government of Canada recorded a surplus of $3.5 billion — the first time it had done so
in 28 years. Similar results were achieved in 1998-1999 with a surplus of $2.9 billion.
The government has developed a plan to ensure a better environment for economic
growth and enhanced productivity by reducing the debt burden, cutting taxes and making
strategic investments. The government’s monetary policy is focussed on keeping the
annual rate of inflation between one and 3 percent; this will encourage investment by
keeping interest rates as low as possible.
Gathering Strength — Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan
As stated during Canada’s last appearance before the Committee, Canada responded to
the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1998 with Gathering Strength
— Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan ( The vision
articulated in Gathering Strength is straightforward: a new partnership between
Aboriginal people and other Canadians that reflects our interdependence and enables us
to work together to build a better future; financially viable Aboriginal governments able
to generate their own revenues and able to operate with secure, predictable government
transfers; Aboriginal governments reflective of, and responsive to, their communities’
needs and values; and, a quality of life for Aboriginal people comparable to that of other
As part of Gathering Strength, the Government offered a Statement of Reconciliation,
which acknowledged its role in the development and administration of the residential
school system. To the victims who suffered physical and sexual abuse at residential
schools, the Government said that it is deeply sorry. The Government also committed
$350 million in support of a community-based healing strategy to address the healing
needs of individuals, families and communities arising from the legacy of physical and
sexual abuse at residential schools.
In May 1998, the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) was formally launched. It is an
Aboriginal-run, non-profit corporation which operates at arms’ length from the
Government, and funds proposals from First Nations, Inuit and Métis affected by the
legacy of physical and sexual abuse in the residential school system.
While the responsibility of implementing Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan lies largely
with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, starting in 1998-1999, the
Department of Canadian Heritage increased funding for Aboriginal advocacy
Government of Canada
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organizations, as well as for the Aboriginal Women’s Program, to run over a four-year
period, to support women in building capacity within their organizations and addressing
self-governance issues. The implementation of both the Aboriginal Languages Initiative
($20 million over four years) and the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres
Initiative ($100 million over five years) in 1998-1999 were also linked to
recommendations of the RCAP.
The 1993 Nunavut Land Claim Agreement led to the creation of the new territory of
Nunavut, which means “our land” in Inuktitut, on April 1, 1999. One-fifth the nation’s
land mass, Nunavut is formed from two million square kilometres carved out of the
eastern and central sections of the Northwest Territories. The population of the new
territory is 85 percent Inuit. Since 1993, the Inuit, as Nunavut’s majority population,
have been shaping a territorial government to reflect their culture, traditions and
aspirations. To meet the needs of its 28 scattered communities, the Government of
Nunavut is highly decentralized with advanced communications technology playing a key
role in this structure.
Training and development of public servants started following the implementation of the
1993 Agreement, and such programs continue to be a driving force in Nunavut’s
evolution to self-sufficiency. The Government of Canada committed approximately
$40 million for the recruitment and skills upgrading of Nunavut public service
employees. By April 1999, about 600 Inuit had already benefited from the training
programs. Inuktitut, along with English and French, is a working language of the
Nunavut government.
Land claims settlements and the Nisga’a Final Agreement
Fourteen comprehensive claim agreements have been signed since the announcement of
the federal government’s claims policy in 1973. Between October 1994 and
December 1999, the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement
(1994) and seven Yukon First Nation Final Agreements were reached.
In 1999, the Nisga’a Final Agreement was signed. This agreement sets aside
2,019 square kilometres of the Nass River Valley in British Columbia as Nisga’a Lands
and establishes a Nisga’a Central Government. The Nisga’a own and have rights to
natural resources, and will receive $253 million over 15 years. The land and resource
components of the Agreement, combined with enhanced governance powers, will allow
the Nisga’a to be more self-reliant and participate more fully in the economy.
Since 1998, the Government of Canada has withdrawn the requirement for an express
reference to extinguishment of Aboriginal rights and title either in a comprehensive claim
agreement or in the settlement legislation ratifying the agreement. This position is
reflected in the Nisga'a Final Agreement, which sets out all the rights that the Nisga’a
Government of Canada
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have under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the area over which they apply and
the limitations to those rights.
Canadian Rural Partnership
The Canadian Rural Partnership is the key policy framework supporting federal rural
policy efforts. Funded by $20 million over four years (1998-2002), the Partnership
ensures that federal programs, policies and activities support rural communities to
enhance the quality of life in these communities and better equip them to compete in a
global economy. To further expand the Partnership, the Federal Framework for Action in
Rural Canada was announced in May 1999 to respond to further consultation on rural
citizens’ priorities. The Framework includes recognition of 11 areas as policy priorities
for the government in addressing its commitment to assist rural Canadians. These
priorities include improving opportunities for rural youth, access to financial resources,
and access to federal services in rural communities.
Education on human rights
All governments in Canada carry out public education programs in the area of human
rights. Within the federal government, the main agencies involved are the Department of
Canadian Heritage, the Department of Justice and the Canadian Human Rights
The Department of Canadian Heritage has a mandate to promote a greater understanding
of human rights, fundamental freedoms and related values. To fulfill this mandate, it
provides funding and technical advice to non-governmental organizations and community
groups for activities that educate the public about human rights. It also distributes, free
of charge, various human rights materials, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, the principal international human rights instruments, and Canada’s periodic
reports to the United Nations under the various UN human rights treaties to which it is a
party. A Web site provides information on human rights in Canada, and includes on-line
copies of the human rights instruments, Canada’s periodic reports to the United Nations,
and the concluding observations made by each UN Committee on Canada’s reports. (See
The Department of Justice sponsors the Access to Justice Network (ACJNet)
(, an Internet-based service providing information and educational
resources on Canadian justice and legal issues. It is dedicated to making law and justice
resources available to all Canadians in either official language. Its Lesson Plans section is
especially useful for teachers preparing lessons on human rights themes for elementary
and secondary school students. The Department of Justice also supports the education
projects of non-governmental organizations and individuals that focus on human rights
and the law. The Department provides grants and contributions for projects that promote
a greater understanding of human rights issues, laws and institutions, both domestically
and internationally, in the justice system and the community at large.
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Following the review of Canada’s Third Report under this Covenant, the Committee
recommended that copies of its concluding observations be provided to all judges and
called for training of judges on Canada’s obligations under the Covenant. In
September 1999, the concluding observations were forwarded to both the National
Judicial Institute and the Canadian Judicial Council. Since the review of Canada’s Third
Report, the National Judicial Institute, an independent, non-profit organization, has
provided relevant training to judges in Canada, including sessions on international human
rights norms, environmental law and the domestic application of international law, which
included modules on “The Relevance and Application of International Law to Judges in
Canada,” “Canada in the International Legal System,” and “International Human Rights.”
The Canadian Human Rights Commission carries out promotional activities, conducts
training sessions to federally regulated public and private sectors employers and produces
publications on various human rights issues, as well as videos, posters, and reports. The
Commission publishes Equality, a quarterly magazine to inform the public about
developments in human rights. A large number of its publications are available on its
Web site ( The Commission’s materials are used for
information and education purposes by schools, employers, NGOs, and unions. Each of
the regional offices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission conducts educational
and training programs and publishes materials relevant to its region. The Commission
endeavours to involve the community in its work. For example, in 1997, the Commission
organized a Disability Issues Forum to bring together representatives of disability
organizations to talk about their concerns and priorities and get useful suggestions on
how disability rights can be better protected. Again in 1997, the Commission produced a
poster and booklet — in partnership with the Canadian Dyslexia Association — aimed at
increasing awareness of this learning disability.
International gatherings
Canada’s Fourth Report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights comes at a very active time for human rights on the international scene. The
period covered by this report (1994-1999) coincided with years dedicated by the United
Nations to the struggle against racism and racial discrimination, the reduction of poverty,
world recognition of indigenous peoples and human rights education. This period was
also marked by Canada’s support for a number of action plans affecting human rights.
Canada endorsed the World Summit for Social Development program to eradicate
poverty, create employment and promote social integration; the Fourth World Conference
on Women action program to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women; the
Habitat program to enhance living conditions in cities, towns and villages all around the
world and the World Food Summit plan of action to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and
malnutrition.7 During this period, the Government of Canada developed implementation
strategies for several of the action plans.
March 1995, World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, Denmark; September 1995, Fourth United
Nations World Conference on Women, Beijing, China; June 1996, Second United Nations Conference on Human
Settlements, Habitat II, Istanbul, Turkey; November 1996, World Food Summit, Rome, Italy.
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In 1999, Canada took advantage of the VIII Francophonie Summit in Moncton to
celebrate its Francophone personality in a very special way by launching the Year of La
Francophonie in Canada. It was an occasion to recognize the contribution of the
country’s Francophones and Francophiles to the development of Canadian society and
their vitality within Canada and across the world.
International cooperation
The purpose of Canada’s official development assistance program (ODA) is to support
sustainable development to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and
prosperous world. The objective of providing this assistance is to work with developing
countries, and countries in transition, to develop the tools to eventually meet their own
needs. Canada’s total ODA in 1999-2000 was $2.7 billion.
Canada has made firm commitments to the protection and promotion of human rights
through development cooperation. The foreign policy statement Canada and the World
(1995) provides the policy framework for Canada’s Overseas Development Assistance
(ODA) and states that: “The purpose of Canada’s official development assistance is to
support sustainable development in developing countries, in order to reduce poverty and
to contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world.” One of the six
identified program priorities is human rights, democratization and good governance. The
Government of Canada Policy for the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA) on Human Rights, Democratization and Good Governance (1995) states that:
“The Government’s policy is to enhance the will and capacity of developing country
societies to respect the rights of children, women and men, and to govern effectively and
in a democratic manner.”
CIDA pursues this policy through five objectives which seek to strengthen: the role and
capacity of civil society in developing countries, in order to increase public participation
in decision-making; democratic institutions, in order to develop and sustain responsible
government; the competence of the public sector, in order to promote the effective,
honest and accountable exercise of power; the capacity of organizations that protect and
promote human rights, in order to enhance each society’s ability to address rights
concerns and strengthen the secutiry of the individual; and the will of leaders to respect
human rights, rule democractically, and govern effectively.
The other CIDA program priorities identified in Canada in the World are:
Basic human needs, to meet the needs of people living in poverty in primary health
care, basic education, family planning, nutrition, water and sanitation, and shelter, as
well as to respond to emergencies with humanitarian assistance — Canada and the
World commits the Government of Canada to providing 25 percent of its ODA to
basic human needs;
Gender equality, to support the achievement of equality between women and men to
ensure sustainable development;
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Infrastructure services, to help developing countries deliver environmentally sound
infrastructure services — for example, rural electricity and communications — with
an emphasis on poorer groups and on building capacity;
Private-sector development, to promote sustained and equitable economic growth by
supporting private-sector development in developing countries and organizations
which are working in micro-enterprise and small business development to promote
income generation; and
Environment, to help developing countries protect their environment and contribute
to addressing global and regional environmental issues.
CIDA’s mandate also includes working with countries in transition (CITs) to support
democratic development and economic liberalization in Central and Eastern Europe and
the newly independent states by building beneficial partnerships. Programming in these
countries has the following four priorities: 1) to assist in the transition to market-based
economies; 2) to encourage good governance, democracy, political pluralism, the rule of
law and adherence to international norms and standards; 3) to facilitate trade and reduce
threats to international and Canadian security.
All of these priority areas of programming contribute to the realization of economic,
social and cultural rights.
Involvement of civil society
Since 1994, the Government of Canada has been striving for transparency in public
affairs and inviting civil society views regarding policy development through
consultations, meetings and electronic correspondence. The preparations already
mentioned for various special sessions of the General Assembly and world summits have
invited participation by numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for
consultation purposes.
Non-governmental organizations are very active in Canada, some of them governmentfunded and some supported by other sources. The Government of Canada recognizes this
sector as an essential partner in national growth at every level.
In the preparation of this report, more than 200 NGOs were invited to provide their views
on the issues that would be addressed in the federal section of the report. The following
organizations responded to this invitation: the Canadian Association for Fifty Plus, the
Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the
Canadian Federation of University Women, the Hellenic Canadian Congress, the Poverty
and Human Rights Project and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
The viewpoints provided by these NGOs have been distributed to the departments and
governments concerned and will be forwarded, under separate cover, to the Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
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The concerns raised focussed on the following issues: factors compromising the progress
of the Covenant; immigrant access to the policy development process; representation of
Canada’s various ethnic groups in the different orders of government; equal rights
between men and women; the Employment Equity Act; issues of equality and
discrimination against ethnic groups that are not in the visible minorities category;
refugees and their access to rights; poverty; the suspension of people’s rights due to their
cultural or national heritage; the discrepancy between Canada’s international policy
statements and the incorporation of these principles and their practice in jurisprudence in
all areas in Canada; protection of the elderly; the rights of individuals; quality of
education; the promotion of the family; the absence of a procedure for handling
complaints about economic, social and cultural rights; the effect of growing disparities in
people’s lives; free trade ideology and human rights; globalization and workers’ rights;
the rights of low-income people and the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST); cuts
in social programs; cuts in employment insurance; responses to the twenty
recommendations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Article 1: Right to Self-determination
Canada subscribes to the principles set forth in the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. Article 1 of the Covenant is implemented without
discrimination as to race, religion or ethnic origin. All Canadians have meaningful
access to government to pursue their political, economic, social and cultural
Article 2: Rights Specifically Subject to Non-Discrimination
The Government of Canada is committed to human rights legislation that ensures all
Canadians enjoy the same protection from discrimination and the same opportunity to
participate meaningfully in Canada’s economic and social life. The Canadian Human
Rights Act (CHRA) governs employment and the provision of goods and services by the
federal government and federally regulated businesses. On June 30, 1998, amendments
to the CHRA entered into force on, inter alia, the following elements:
To prevent discrimination, a legal obligation or “duty of accommodation” was added
to the Act that requires employers to address the needs of people who are protected
under the CHRA, including persons with disabilities. The amendment ensures that
those protected by the Act do not encounter unfair barriers and have, within
reasonable limits, the same opportunities as other Canadians to find employment and
take advantage of services. It requires employers and providers of services to make
accommodation for the needs of people who are protected under the Act, except
where this would cause undue hardship with respect to health, safety and cost. This
includes, for example, ensuring that a workplace is wheelchair-accessible.
The Act now recognizes that individuals may suffer discrimination on a number of
grounds at the same time (section 3.1). For example, a woman may experience
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discrimination in finding a job not only because she is a woman but also because of
her race or disability. The Act now allows for multiple grounds of discrimination to
be taken into account by a tribunal and that each ground of discrimination does not
have to be considered separately. This reflects a more holistic and comprehensive
approach to the resolution of human rights complaints.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission now reports directly to Parliament.
A small, permanent Human Rights Tribunal was created to replace the system of ad
hoc tribunals and review tribunals. A permanent tribunal provides greater efficiency
in hearing cases and creates a consistent body of decisions and a solid base of
expertise, because its members hear more cases. It also helps to speed up the
complaints process by reducing the number of levels of review and by ensuring that
tribunal members are more readily available to deal with cases.
The maximum limit on compensation for pain and suffering or for wilful or reckless
discrimination was raised to $20,000.
In April 1999, the Minister of Justice of Canada announced a review of human rights
protection in Canada. A former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada was appointed to
chair a review panel. Other members of the panel were a former commissioner with the
Canadian Human Rights Commission, a professor of human rights law and a professor of
business and noted expert on systemic discrimination issues.
The review consisted of an examination and analysis of the Canadian Human Rights Act
and the policies and practices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission with a
particular focus on:
an examination of the purpose and grounds to ensure that the Act accords with
modern human rights and equality principles; recognizing the principles and
complexities of the legal and policy issues regarding social and economic rights, the
Review Panel examined the question of whether “social condition” should be added
as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
a determination of the adequacy of the scope and jurisdiction of the Act, including an
examination of its exemptions;
a review of the complaints-based model and recommendations for enhancing or
changing the model to improve protection from both individual and systemic
discrimination, while ensuring that the process is efficient and effective; and
an examination of the powers and procedures of the Canadian Human Rights
Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal.
The review panel held consultations with the public, employers, unions, equality-seeking
groups and other interested parties. Information on the review panel’s report, tabled in
June 2000, will be provided in Canada’s next report.
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Discrimination against vulnerable groups
Aboriginal people
Most articles in this report highlight the specific measures granted to Aboriginal people.
These measures emanate in part from Gathering Strength — Canada’s Aboriginal Action
Plan, described in the Introduction to Part III of the present report.
The Government of Canada provides funding under the Aboriginal Friendship Centre
Program (an average of $15.3 million for 1994-1999) that supports an infrastructure of
99 Aboriginal friendship centres as well as the National Association of Friendship
Centres (NAFC). These organizations, through work within their respective
communities, engage in activities to increase awareness of Aboriginal culture and
address/eliminate discrimination against Aboriginal people.
Immigrants and refugees
The new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and supporting regulations
consolidate protection criteria and decision-making processes for persons fleeing
persecution, torture and risk to life. Persons found to need protection may apply for
permanent resident status and may sponsor some family members still living abroad. The
legislation received Royal Assent on November 1, 2001 and entered into force in 2002.
More detailed information will be provided in Canada’s next report.
While refugee claimants are ineligible to receive settlement services funded by
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), they are able to access provincial services.
CIC’s settlement programs do not discriminate on the basis of any of the rights
guaranteed by the Covenant, and are available to all persons who have been granted the
right to remain in Canada.
CIC’s integration programming demonstrates an effort on the part of CIC to create a
more welcoming host society and raise awareness of Canadian values of tolerance and
respect for diversity through promotions materials, Web sites and outreach activities.
The March 2000 launch of CIC’s Canada We All Belong and Welcome Home campaigns
is outside of the reporting period in question, but is an excellent example of how the
Department strives to play an important role in making Canada a truly inclusive society.
Article 3: Equal Rights of Women and Men
Information on the status of women in Canada and women’s role in Canadian society can
be found in Canada’s Fifth Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (
Established in 1976, Status of Women Canada (SWC) is the federal government
department responsible for the promotion of gender equality and the full and equal
participation of women in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country.
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It’s mandate is to “coordinate policy with respect to the status of women and administer
related programs.”
Canada, in response to a call from the United Nations to formulate a national plan to
advance the situation of women, both within its own borders and globally, presented The
Federal Plan for Gender Equality in 1995 at the Fourth United Nations World
Conference on Women in Beijing. Canada’s Fifth Report on the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women outlines the objectives of the
plan, which includes the development and application of tools and methodologies for
carrying out gender-based analysis (GBA), the development and delivery of GBA
training, and the development of indicators to assess the progress made toward gender
Status of Women Canada has worked strategically and horizontally to inform and
influence the actions of various stakeholders to integrate GBA and implement change to
achieve gender equality. Since 1995, SWC has developed and provided other
government departments with a series of tools and supports to assist them in the
implementation of GBA. Notable among these is Gender-Based Analysis: A Guide for
Policy-Making, released in March 1996. In 1999, SWC established a Gender-based
Analysis Directorate tasked with accelerating GBA implementation across the federal
SWC’s policy and external relations function includes the review and provision of gender
expertise on existing and proposed federal government policies, legislation, programs and
initiatives. It develops recommendations and strategies and works in cooperation with
other federal departments to promote gender equality and undertakes developmental
activities to address policy gaps on issues of concern to women. It also collaborates with
various stakeholders, including provincial and territorial governments, civil society and
non-governmental organizations, international organizations and other governments on
policy-related activities. A key example includes the 1997 child support reform package
which included changes to the tax treatment of child support developed by SWC. The
Secretary of State (Status of Women) had a leadership role in holding consultations
across the country on this issue.
Other areas in which Status of Women Canada has been particularly active and
influential include pension reform, and initiatives in the tax system and employment
insurance program to better recognize the non-market dependant care work that is
predominately undertaken by women and which has implications for their economic
autonomy and security. Advances in criminal law and measures to address violence
against women have also benefited from SWC engagement. To aid in all policy areas,
Status of Women Canada has also contributed to the development of statistics and
indicators to support GBA, such as the Economic Gender Equality Indicators, Finding
Data on Women: A Guide to the Major Sources at Statistics Canada and the Guide to
Gender-Sensitive Indicators with an accompanying handbook; and development of
gender-based research in the Government of Canada and with counterparts in other
governments and international organizations.
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During the period from June 1996 to September 1999, the Policy Research Fund of Status
of Women Canada issued 13 calls for proposals which examined themes such as the
impact of the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) on women, women’s access to
justice, custody and access of children, women’s paid and unpaid work and their
vulnerability to poverty, factoring diversity into policy development, reducing women’s
poverty, women and the Canadian tax system, women and the Canadian Human Rights
Act and trafficking in women.
Between 1994 and 1999, SWC’s Women’s Program funded initiatives which addressed
discrimination based on sex, age, sexuality, race, colour, nationality and physical
condition. For example, funding was provided to the Aboriginal Women’s Council
(1994) for a participatory, action-oriented, research project with Aboriginal women to
systematically define the discrimination they experience in housing, employment and
health and social services. In Québec, funding was provided to Action travail des femmes
du Québec incorporé (1994-1995). The purpose of the project was to inform
ethnocultural organizations of ways to overcome discrimination and to build
collaborative links with stakeholders in the community to assist women who experience
work-related discrimination. It also involved creating and adapting information and
leadership tools to respond to the specific needs of women in cultural communities. An
initiative by Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE) (1997-1998)
supported the first national survey on the demographics of the gay, lesbian and bisexual
communities in Canada: violence and discrimination experienced within these
communities; the degree of legal recognition of same-sex relationships; and the multiple
barriers that lesbians, gay men and bisexuals face. The National Organization of
Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada (1998-1999) (NOIVMWC)
undertook activities in two key areas: 1) assessing the needs, issues and concerns of
immigrant and visible minority girl children in five cities, focusing on discrimination,
violence, and racism; 2) identifying priority issues concerning the new communication
technology for immigrant and visible minority women’s groups/organisations.
The Aboriginal Women’s Program (AWP) of the Department of Canadian Heritage
provided $8.5 million over five years, with annual allocations in support of three national
Aboriginal women’s organizations and approximately 70 projects at the
provincial/territorial level each year. These projects were designed to improve social
conditions, cultural retention and preservation, economic well-being and leadership
development and training, while maintaining cultural distinctiveness and preserving
cultural identity. Some of these projects also focused on family violence.
The AWP also provided funding to the Native Women’s Association of Canada to pursue
the issue of Aboriginal women living on reserves who do not enjoy the same right, as
women living off reserves, to an equal share of matrimonial property at the time of
marriage breakdown.
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International cooperation
Gender equality is considered an integral part of all policies, programs and projects of the
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
CIDA’s Policy on Gender Equality (March 1999) identifies one of its objectives as: “to
support women and girls in the realization of their full human rights.” CIDA’s approach
is that women’s rights are human rights. The removal of key barriers, such as gender
discrimination, supporting organizations promoting women’s rights, and fostering an
enabling environment are important elements of CIDA’s programming.
Article 6: Right to Work
The Government of Canada has addressed the right to work in several reports, including
its Fifth Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women. Canada’s earlier reports on the Covenant also provide useful
The Government of Canada has subscribed to a number of conventions involving the
right to work. The following reports to the International Labour Organization (ILO) deal
with several aspects of article 6 of this Covenant and should be consulted for additional
reports on the Employment Policy Convention for the periods July 1, 1996, to
June 30, 1998, (pages 4-10 and 36-41) and July 1, 1998, to May 31, 2000 (pages 4-10
and 36-39);
reports on the Employment Service Convention for the period July 1, 1993, to
June 30, 1998 (pages 2-14);
report on the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention for the
periods July 1, 1995, to June 30, 1997 (pages 2-6C) and July 1, 1997 to June 30, 1999
(pages 2-4);
1997 report (article 19 of the ILO Constitution) for the period ending
December 31,1996, on Convention 159 and Recommendation 168 —Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons).
General picture
The employment situation is generally good: many new jobs have been created and the
unemployment rate has fallen among workers of all ages. Between 1992 and 1999, it
dropped from nearly 12 percent to under 8 percent.
The Government of Canada recognizes that a more productive and innovative economy is
the key to ensuring that there is a vibrant labour market for all Canadians. The
Government has a range of policies and programs that help Canadians get and keep jobs
and does so to support both economic and social objectives.
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The Government of Canada has focussed its efforts in sustaining a strong, growing
economy. Employment growth, while slow during the early and mid-nineties, increased
considerably in the following years. From 1996 to 1999, over one million new jobs were
created, representing annual employment growth of 2.6 percent over this period. Most of
these new jobs (966,000) were full-time in nature. In 1998, Canada’s annual employment
growth of 2.8 percent was sixth among all OECD countries, and well above the OECD
average of one percent. The unemployment rate, at 6.6 percent for May 2000, has been at
its lowest level in 25 years.
The Government of Canada is encouraging greater demand for labour through a wide
range of microeconomic policy actions. These include: improving access to investment
capital, particularly for small and medium-sized business and exporters; improving
access to business information; and promoting innovation and the growth of hightechnology industries. Steps are also being taken to make it easier for businesses to
operate by, for example, reducing the paper and regulatory burden, and by setting or
updating the policy and regulatory frameworks for emerging or key sectors to support
their future development. In addition, the payroll tax levied for employment insurance is
being reduced, and the 1996 Budget of the Government of Canada launched a review of
tax laws that most affect job creation, including corporate income, capital and payroll
Human capital investment remains an essential element in enabling Canadians to
participate fully in the workplace and the community. Through the development of a
vision to improve the quality of life for all Canadians, strategic contributions to human
development are being made. Important features include: taking an integrated approach
to human development, enabling Canadians to manage transitions in their lives,
emphasizing preventative measures, forging partnerships, building the capacity of
communities, respecting core values, and continuing to develop and build on the
strengths of people.
Since 1993, the federal government has pursued a strategy of investing in individuals to
develop a highly skilled and productive workforce. The government approach has
consisted of building a foundation for supporting individuals throughout the key periods
of the life-cycle, including: early childhood development, e.g. the National Children’s
Agenda, the National Child Benefit; access to affordable post-secondary education, e.g.
reforms to Canada Student Loans, the Canada Opportunities Strategy, the Canada Health
and Social Transfer (CHST). In the 1999 Speech from the Throne, the Government
committed to make it easier to finance lifelong learning and provide a single window to
Canada-wide information about labour markets, skills requirements and training
opportunities, as well as enabling skills development to keep pace with the evolving
economy and addressing adult literacy. The federal government, in partnership with
business and labour, continues to expand Sectoral Partnerships, which focus collaboration
and commitment in identifying and responding to skills challenges in key economic
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Since 1996, the Government of Canada has initiated Labour Market Development
Agreements with nine provinces and the three territories. This a unique co-operation
between federal and provincial/territorial governments allows for the flexibility needed to
address local labour market conditions. It is based on a national framework provided by
the Employment Insurance legislation and builds on the Government of Canada’s desire
to work in partnership with the territories and provinces. Programs and services
delivered through the Agreements continue to: further federal and provincial labour
market objectives and priorities, result in employment and self-sufficiency for assisted
clients, increase the participation in the labour market of employable persons, particularly
those who are eligible for employment insurance benefits, and foster an entrepreneurial
Strong job growth has resulted in a decline in the number of involuntary part-time
workers, that is, those who work part-time only because they could not find full-time
work (mainly women and young adults).
Aboriginal people
An Aboriginal Human Resources Development Council has been set up by the federal
and provincial governments, representatives of national Aboriginal organizations and the
private sector. The five-year strategy of Human Resources Development Canada for the
development of Aboriginal human resources took effect in April 1999. This strategy
encompasses all programs for Aboriginal people including labour market programs,
youth programs, programs for Aboriginal people living in urban environments, programs
for persons with disabilities and children’s aid programs.
The First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy provides training and experience
to the work force.
The mandate of the Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative (AWPI) was renewed
and enhanced in 1996. AWPI’s goal is to educate, inform and encourage employers to
undertake Aboriginal employment strategies. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
(INAC) oversees the AWPI external component geared to employers outside the federal
Public Service and has been involved in more than 75 initiatives, including a thorough
consultation process to develop the AWPI Employer Toolkit. The Treasury Board
Secretariat looks after AWPI’s internal component, aimed at the federal Public Service,
and has promoted several projects with federal departments and agencies. AWPI is
responsible for making more than 10,000 employers aware of the advantages of hiring
Aboriginal people.
The Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy (YES), implemented in 1997,
provides work experience, career and labour market information, and access to learning
opportunities for close to 100,000 participants per year. The YES includes mechanisms
such as: Youth Internship Canada, which provides funds to employers for internships;
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Youth Service Canada, which provides funds to organizations that create community
service projects for specific youth groups; Student Summer Job Action, which provides
wage subsidies to employers who create student jobs; and Information Services, which
give students access to labour market information.
Through the YES, approximately 14 departments and agencies offer subsidies to
employers to encourage development of summer placement and internship opportunities
for youth throughout the year. For example, the Young Canada Works program of the
Department of Canadian allows youth between the ages of 16 and 30 to gain work
experience in fields related to their studies in cultural, heritage, English and French
language-based institutions and organizations, and Aboriginal Friendship Centres; to earn
money to help pay for their education; and to get skills and knowledge needed to
participate in the work force.
By helping youth earn money, the program facilitates equitable access to education for
Canadian youth. The program encourages work force mobility, cross-Canada
understanding and friendship across its geographic expanse by assisting employers to
host a youth in a summer placement who is from another part of the country. The
program also encourages placements and internships in the second official language, to
assist in the building of cultural connections of mutual benefit to employer hosts and
youth, and the development of real work experiences that assist in the transfer of science
and technology applications to cultural and natural heritage sectors. Increased knowledge
about Canada, its diverse places and people also accrue from placements and internships
in cultural and heritage organizations. Employers who agree to hire participants with
disabilities can benefit from additional help to defray a portion of their recruitment costs.
Persons dependent on the fishing industry
The Government of Canada announced the Fishery Restructuring and Adjustment
Measures (FRAM) on June 19, 1998, to assist individuals and coastal communities on
both the East and West coasts adjust to opportunities outside the fishery, and to lay the
foundation for an economically and environmentally viable, self-reliant fishery for the
future. A total of $1.1 billion was allocated for adjustment and restructuring measures on
both coasts. The budget for the East Coast was $760 million, which included $30 million
in re-profiled Atlantic Groundfish Strategy (TAGS) funds. Of this, $410 million is
provided for adjustment programming, final cash payments and early retirement. The
budget for the West Coast was $400 million with $30 million provided for adjustment
Job search
The Government of Canada has taken steps to provide Labour Market Information to
ensure that those who want work are able to make informed labour market decisions.
These services provide several types of information. A powerful Internet service,
WorkSearch, has been implemented to guide Canadians through all aspects of the work
search process. An electronic matching service for workers and employers, the
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Electronic Labour Exchange, helps people match their skills with jobs available in
Canada. The National Job Bank, which is an electronic listing of jobs, work or business
opportunities, continues to be a resource for all workers to search for jobs across Canada
or in a more specific area of the country. Job Futures, a comprehensive career and
education planning tool which presents the latest information available about the
Canadian workforce, provides overviews of the labour market, economic trends and net
benefits to education, as well as detailed profiles for most occupational groups and postsecondary fields of study, including current and future prospects for finding employment.
Employment equity
The new Employment Equity Act (EEA), which received Royal Assent on December 15,
1995, and came into force on October 24, 1996, applies to the federal public service as
well as to private sector-employers under federal jurisdiction and Crown corporations
with 100 employees or more. The Canadian Forces and members of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police are subject to the Act upon order of the Governor in Council. The
Governor in Council may also make regulations that it considers necessary to adapt the
EEA to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The EEA provides for enforcement of employer obligations by giving the Canadian
Human Rights Commission (CHRC) a specific legislative mandate to monitor and verify
compliance through on-site employer audits. The CHRC has consulted with the private
and public sectors, including advocacy groups, employer and employee organizations,
and labour, and has prepared documents outlining the employer audit framework and the
criteria to be used to measure compliance. The Employment Equity Act created an
Employment Equity Review Tribunal with the power to issue court-enforceable orders.
Core employer obligations are clarified in the new Act. An administrative penalty
replaces the current criminal proceedings for the failure of a private-sector employer to
submit the required annual employment equity report to the Minister of Labour.
As employer for the federal government, the Treasury Board has obligations under the
EEA. Through its Secretariat, it works closely with departments to effectively implement
employment equity in the Public Service of Canada by removing barriers to the
participation of persons from the designated groups — Aboriginal persons, members of
visible minority groups, persons with disabilities and women. This includes providing
support for initiatives aimed at improving representation and creating an inclusive work
environment. Each year, the President of the Treasury Board submits a report to
Parliament on the state of employment equity in the Public Service. The EEA provides
for a statutory review five years after coming into force, i.e. in 2001.
Between 1994 and 1999, the representation of designated group members in the Public
Service had evolved as follows: 2.0 percent in 1994 and 2.9 percent in 1999 for
Aboriginal people; 3.8 percent in 1994 and 5.9 percent in 1999 for persons in a visible
minority group; 2.9 percent in 1994 and 4.6 percent in 1999 for persons with disabilities;
and 47.0 percent in 1994 and 51.5 percent in 1999 for women.
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The Special Measures Initiatives Program (SMIP) was established for a four-year period
(1994 to 1998) and ended on March 31, 1998. This program offered federal institutions
financial, technical and other support to help them attain employment equity objectives.
After the SMIP ended, there was still a need for support programs to ensure that
employment equity would be successfully implemented across departments and agencies
of the federal Public Service. As a result, Treasury Board Ministers approved the
Employment Equity Positive Measures Program (EEPMP) on October 8, 1998, to assist
departments and agencies in meeting their obligations under the Employment Equity Act.
The EEPMP, like the SMIP, is a temporary program which provides project funding from
a $10 million annual budget to serve as a catalyst for eliminating employment barriers
and for building institutional capacity to support employment equity in the federal Public
Service. The EEPMP was put in place for four years.
One project which received funding from the EEPMP was the Accelerated Aboriginal
Recruitment and the Career Assignment Program (CAP). The Career Assignment
Program received support that enabled it to recruit, assess, select and appoint Aboriginal
candidates from CAP positions across the federal Public Service.
During the period covered by this report, Treasury Board created two Task Forces to
reinforce its commitment to the elimination of barriers in the federal Public Service.
The creation of the Task Force on an Inclusive Public Service was announced on
December 14, 1998, by the President of the Treasury Board. Its mandate was to provide
advice on the way to create a federal Public Service representative of the population it
serves and of the Canadian labour force. The Task Force, whose mandate ended on
August 31, 2000, has been credited with starting a dialogue about the federal Public
Service’s corporate culture and how to improve it.
On April 23, 1999, the establishment of the Task Force on the Participation of Visible
Minorities in the Federal Public Service was announced. Its mandate was to take stock of
the situation of members of visible minority groups in the federal Public Service and
formulate a government wide action plan with benchmarks and follow-up mechanisms to
ensure that the benchmarks were met. During 1999-2000, it consulted extensively with
key stakeholders inside and outside the federal Public Service and developed its action
plan which was presented to the President of the Treasury Board in March 2000.
Information regarding the action plan will be provided in Canada's next report.
Employment equity is also the subject of the Federal Contractors Program which applies
to contractors doing business with the federal government who do not come under federal
jurisdiction (and are thus not covered by the Employment Equity Act). Under this
program, contractors are obliged to develop and implement an employment equity plan to
review the under-representation of the four designated groups on their staffs. Unless they
meet several criteria of compliance with program requirements they may be precluded
from bidding on future contracts.
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Persons with disabilities
With respect to the role of the federal government on disability issues, the Federal Task
Force on Disability Issues (i.e. the Scott Task Force) was created in 1996 to define this
role and to provide recommendations to guide public policy. The Task Force identified
the labour market integration of persons with disabilities as a priority issue, and
recommended that additional targeted investments be made to improve the situation.
The Government of Canada responded with a number of strategic investments. The
Opportunities Fund (OF), established in 1997-1998, was designed to address barriers to
labour market participation and facilitate the integration of persons with disabilities into
employment or self-employment. More than 14,000 persons with disabilities have
participated in the program since its inception.
The Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities (EAPD) initiative replaced the
Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (VRDP) on April 1, 1998. The EAPD has
a strong focus on employability, labour market activities and the direct integration of
Canadians with disabilities into the labour market. Through this initiative, the
Government of Canada provides funding of $193 million per year to provinces to support
provincial programs and services that help working age adults with disabilities to prepare
for, obtain and retain employment.
Accountability to the public and to people with disabilities is a key feature of EAPD.
The accountability framework includes federal-provincial joint planning, results reporting
and evaluation activities. There is also a joint commitment to the involvement of
organizations representing people with disabilities in the accountability process.
The Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada produced research papers in 1997
under the theme “The Relationship Between The Changing Role Of The State, Women’s
Paid And Unpaid Work, And Women’s Vulnerability To Poverty”, including Policy
Options to Improve Standards for Women Garment Workers in Canada and
Internationally; Gender on the Line: Technology, Restructuring and the Reorganization
of Work in the Call Centre Industry; and Aboriginal Women and Jobs: Challenges and
Issues for Employability Programs in Québec. The Policy Research Fund of Status of
Women Canada produced research papers in 1998 under the theme “Trafficking In
Women: The Canadian Dimension”, including Canada: the New Frontier for Filipino
Mail-Order Brides and Migrant Sex Workers from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet
Union: The Canadian Case. These research papers are used for consultation purposes
prior to policy development.
Eliminating discrimination in the workplace
The Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code may be invoked in
relation to employment practices, including hiring and firing in the workplace and
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various other situations involving systemic discrimination. Employers in Canada have a
duty to accommodate persons with disabilities and personal needs, and employees have
recourse to a complaint mechanism against wrongful dismissal or any wrongdoing they
suffer in the workplace.
The Canadian Human Rights Act was amended in 1996 to add sexual orientation as a
protected ground of discrimination.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
The following reports provide information given to the ILO on the matter of
remuneration and should be consulted for additional information:
Reports on the Equal Remuneration Convention for the periods July 1, 1993, to
June 30, 1996 (pages 2-3 and 8-12), July 1, 1996, to June 30, 1998 (pages 2-3 and 1518), and July 1, 1998, to June 30, 2000 (pages 3-9);
Reports on the 1921 Convention on Weekly Rest (Industrial, #14) for the period
July 1, 1994, to May 31, 2000.
Minimum wage
Information about the minimum wage was provided in Canada's Third Report on the
Covenant (paras 150-151) and in Canada’s response to the Committee’s question 28 in
view of the review of the Third Report (
Equal pay for equal work
One of Canada’s objectives outlined in the Federal Plan for Gender Equality is to
improve women’s economic autonomy and well being. The federal government has
undertaken a number of measures to this end which are outlined in Canada’s Fifth Report
on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
The Government of Canada is committed to the principle of pay equity. In the federally
regulated sector, the right to equal remuneration for work of equal value is protected by
section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which makes it a discriminatory act for an
employer to establish or maintain different wages for male and female employees doing
work of equal value in the same establishment.
Further, on October 29, 1999, the federal government announced its intention to conduct
a comprehensive review of section 11 of the Act and of the Equal Wages Guidelines,
1986, “with a view to ensuring clarity in the way pay equity is implemented in the
modern world.” The Minister of Labour and the Minister of Justice appointed a task
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force to conduct consultations with key stakeholders, to review the current equal pay
provisions of section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, as well as the Equal Wages
Guidelines and to make recommendations within one year of commencement of the
review. The Review takes into account the following considerations:
Canada ratified the International Labour Organization Convention 100 in 1972,
thereby giving effect to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value, and is
party to and has ratified other international human rights agreements which further
support this principle;
section 11 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which makes it a discriminatory
practice to pay men and women differently for performing work of equal value, has
not been amended or subjected to a comprehensive review since receiving Royal
Assent in 1977;
some provincial jurisdictions have adopted pay equity legislation which takes a more
proactive approach to addressing gender-based wage discrimination and places
positive obligations on both employers and employee organizations or representatives
to ensure that this principle is implemented; and
many observers, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission, favour an
alternative to the current complaint-based approach to implementing the principle of
equal pay for work of equal value.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission continues to promote compliance with the
equal pay provisions in the Canadian Human Rights Act and investigate complaints
lodged under the terms of these provisions. The Commission reports that since 1987, it
has resolved about 130 complaints. Total compensation payments equate roughly to
$4 billion, mostly paid for in accordance with the Tribunal Consent Order following the
1999 settlement of the Treasury Board complaint (see below). At the end of 1999, 29
complaints were under investigation.
Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) administers a proactive labour program
to ensure equal pay in federally regulated institutions. As at the end of 1999, officials of
the department have visited some 1,300 employers under federal jurisdiction who employ
a significant number of the total number of employees covered by the federal equal pay
legislation, to offer advice and counselling and to monitor progress towards completing
equal pay implementation. While the legislation does not require employers to report the
amounts of pay equity adjustments, some 138 employers voluntarily reported
$51.3 million in adjustments as at September 1999. Some cases were referred to the
Canadian Human Rights Commission for investigation and were resolved.
In 1994, HRDC introduced a pay equity audit process to verify the actions of employers
who report having completed their implementation of equal pay and to work with those
employers to resolve any identified gender-based pay inequities. The audit process has
been completed with 40 employers.
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The Government of Canada continues to be committed to the principle of equal pay for
work of equal value. Moreover, following the conclusion of the Tribunal and Federal
Court proceedings in 1999, the Treasury Board and the Public Service Alliance of
Canada reached an agreement that resulted in pay equity payments to approximately
230,000 current and former public servants.
Between 1997 and 1999, the Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada produced
Policy research papers such as Unpaid Work and Macroeconomics: New Discussions,
New Tools for Action; Social and Community Indicators for Evaluating Women’s Work in
Communities; Women and Homework: The Canadian Legislative Framework; and
Women and the Canadian Human Rights Act: A Collection of Policy Research Reports.
Between 1994 and 1999, the Women’s Program of Status of Women Canada funded
numerous community initiatives at the national and provincial level that address
employment equity and pay equity. These initiatives have enabled non-governmental
organizations to move this file forward in communities and employer circles and to act on
proposed changes to government legislation on pay equity.
Occupational health and safety
The occupational safety and health provisions of the Canada Labour Code (Part II) have
been amended as the result of recommendations put forward by government, employer
and employee representatives. This tripartite consultative process is also addressing, on
an on-going basis, the occupational safety and health regulations adopted under the Code.
Information on working conditions for pregnant and nursing employees can be found in
Canada’s Fifth Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women.
Equal opportunity for promotion
Between 1994 and 1999, the Women’s Program of Status of Women Canada funded
initiatives that address equal opportunity for promotion. This helps to alert public
opinion to this matter and equip women to move towards senior positions.
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
Canadian governments protect workers with a range of measures including maintenance
of the right of free association, just and effective collective bargaining and the absence of
Canada has more than 20 national unions including almost 10 that are international.
These unions cover nearly four million workers in Canada.
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The Public Service Commission and the Treasury Board have been fostering
relationships with national labour unions and pursuing new approaches to labour
relations. The Commission and Treasury Board ensure consultation with unions through
the Joint Consultative Committee and the National Joint Committee on matters affecting
employees, such as priority placements, workforce adjustment initiatives and the alternate
exchange program.
Legislative and administrative initiatives
Comprehensive amendments to Part I of the Canada Labour Code came into force on
January 1, 1999. Key amendments include: establishing a representational Canada
Industrial Relations Board to replace the non-representational Canada Labour Relations
Board; streamlining of the process applicable to resolution of collective bargaining
disputes; clarification of the rights and obligations of parties during a work stoppage; a
requirement to maintain services necessary to protect public health and safety during a
work stoppage; a requirement that services to grain vessels be maintained in the event of
a work stoppage in the port; and a prohibition on the use of replacement workers during a
legal strike or lockout for the demonstrated purpose of undermining a union’s
representative capacity.
In the fall of 1999, the Secretary of the Treasury Board established the Advisory
Committee on Labour Management Relations in the Federal Public Service. The
Committee’s mandate is to review the state of labour-management relations in the federal
public service, including federal collective bargaining legislation and that of other
Canadian jurisdictions. The Committee will also evaluate how well the system of labourmanagement relations created by the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA) has
served Canadians. It will seek to study labour-management relations at three levels —
the public service generally, as well as the departmental and the local levels. The
Committee’s first report will be released in 2000.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
All of the social security services cited in the reporting guidelines are services that exist
in Canada although under different names. The basic structure of the system remains the
same as the one described in the first report on the same Covenant. A few amendments
were made to certain components and explained in subsequent reports on the Covenant.
The amendments that have occurred during the period of interest are explained below.
The Government of Canada also deals with the issue of social security in its Second
Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its reports on the implementation
of decisions made at the World Summit for Social Development and measures adopted at
the UN Second Conference on Human Settlements cited in the introduction to this
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Social assistance
The Government of Canada does not provide social assistance benefits directly to
individuals. Rather, as discussed earlier in this report, the government provides funds to
provincial and territorial governments through the Canada Health and Social Transfer
(CHST). Provinces and territories use these funds to pay for social assistance benefits, as
well as health care, post-secondary education and social services.
For 1998-1999, federal social security expenditures, which included transfers to
provincial-territorial governments for health care and welfare in the form of the Canada
Health and Social Transfer (CHST), direct federal health expenditures, transfers to
persons in the form of Old Age Security benefits, Employment Insurance benefits
(including family-related benefits), Child Tax Benefits, Canada Pension Plan benefits
(including retirement benefits, disability and survivors’ benefits), benefits to veterans,
benefits to Registered Indians, benefits under federal employment programs, and benefits
to the disabled under the Employability Assistance for Persons with Disabilities initiative,
amounted to $88.5 billion, that is, approximately 9.8 percent of the gross domestic
product. For 1994-1995, these expenditures amounted to $85.6 billion, 11.3 percent of
the gross domestic product8.
When the expenditures of all levels of government, i.e., federal, provincial, territorial and
municipal, are taken into account, total social security expenditures for 1998-1999
amounted to $156.6 billion, that is 17.4 percent of gross domestic product. For 19941995, those expenditures amounted to $147.8 billion, that is 19.4 percent of the gross
domestic product.9
As of the end of March 1999, 2.3 million people — about 7.5 percent of the population
— were receiving provincial or territorial social assistance benefits funded in part by the
Canada Health and Social Transfer. Because of ongoing solid economic growth during
the late 1990s and a series of significant provincial welfare reforms, this figure is
considerably lower than in March 1995 when 3.1 million people — about 10.4 percent of
the population — received social assistance benefits.
The Government of Canada is working to replace the welfare system for First Nations
people living on a reserve by a more dynamic and progressive system. The Royal
Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) spoke of the need for reform and made
numerous recommendations to that effect. The joint Assembly of First Nations/Indian
and Northern Affairs Canada Income Security Reform initiative began in April 1998 and
A breakdown of expenditures for each sector is not available; therefore, this amount includes expenditures for
post-secondary education. The CHST is made up of a combination of cash and tax point transfers. The 1998-1999
total does not include the $3.5-billion CHST supplement for health.
Data for 1998-1999 are not available for provincial welfare and Workers’ Compensation expenditures. Amounts
are based on 1997-1998 totals.
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consists of two key implementation strategies: demonstration projects/best practices and
the development of a redesigned policy framework.
Demonstration projects have been undertaken to explore innovative approaches for the
delivery of social assistance programs, build capacity to develop and administer social
assistance programs and identify barriers that exist for the delivery of effective, efficient
social assistance programs. The demonstration projects and best practices are community
driven and look more at community-level needs and concerns. At the end of the period
covered by this report, 148 income security reform demonstration projects involving
398 First Nations communities were underway.
In 1992, the Government of Canada launched the Self-Sufficiency Project (SSP). The
SSP is a research initiative that seeks to generate knowledge on “what works” in
facilitating labour market attachment, reducing poverty and promoting self-sufficiency.
It is targeted to lone parents with long-term dependency on social assistance. The SSP
offered lone parents in New Brunswick and British Columbia a generous earnings
supplement if they left social assistance and obtained full-time employment. Over time,
it tracked the experiences of participants in order to test the effectiveness of the earnings
By international standards, SSP results are among the best ever for this type of project
and for this group. At its peak, the SSP doubled the employment rate for participants
relative to non-participants. While participants’ employment rate gradually increased to
the same level as the non-participants (after 45 months), the SSP allowed participants to
enter the workforce faster and earlier than non-participants. Even after participants
stopped receiving the supplement, they maintained the same employment rate. The SSP
also lowered the incidence of poverty and decreased the receipt of social assistance for
more than five years.
Family allowances
Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
In July 1998, the federal government renamed the previous Child Tax Benefit as the
Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). The CCTB includes both the federal component of
the National Child Benefit (NCB) (described below) and the CCTB base benefit. The
CCTB base benefit is broader than the NCB Supplement in that it provides monthly taxfree basic income support to approximately 80 percent of Canadian families with
children. In 1999-2000, this represented an annual federal expenditure of $4.6 billion.
Approximately 3.1 million families received the CCTB over this period on behalf of 5.3
million children.
As of July 1999, families with net family income up to $25,921 receive a CCTB basic
benefit of $1,020 per child per year, plus an additional $75 for the third and each
subsequent child in the family, and a further supplement of $213 for each child under the
age of seven for whom no child care expenses have been claimed. The CCTB base
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benefit begins to be reduced once net family income exceeds $25,921. The CCTB base
benefit is exhausted at an annual net family income of $66,721 for one- and two-child
National Child Benefit Supplement
The federal government has taken a number of steps to build the federal component of
the National Child Benefit (NCB), i.e. the NCB Supplement. For example, in 1997, the
Working Income Supplement was enriched and restructured, paving the way for its
replacement by the NCB Supplement as of July 1998. The initial launch of the NCB
Supplement, which built on previous funding of the Working Income Supplement,
represented an annual federal investment of $850 million. As of July 1999, the NCB
Supplement was enriched by an additional annual $425 million, which allowed benefit
levels to increase. The benefit was also extended over a broader range of family income
so that more families have access to the benefit.
The NCB Supplement provides the following benefit levels for low-income families with
children. As of July 1999, maximum annual benefits were $785 for the first child, $585
for the second child, and $510 for the third and subsequent children. The NCB
Supplement provided these maximum annual benefit levels to all low-income families
with net family incomes of less than $20,921. NCB Supplement benefits were exhausted
at net family income of $27,750. No minimum level of earnings is necessary to be
eligible for the NCB Supplement — as was the case for the previous Working Income
Supplement. Between July 1998 and June 1999, 1.4 million Canadian families with
2.5 million children received additional income support through the NCB Supplement.
Between July 1999 and June 2000, 1.5 million Canadian families with 2.6 million
children received additional benefits from the NCB Supplement.
Under the NCB, this enriched federal income support is enabling provinces and territories
to redirect some of their social assistance resources towards improving benefits and
services for low-income families with children. In addition, most jurisdictions are adding
new funds, beyond their social assistance savings, so that federal investments to the NCB
Supplement are being complemented by additional provincial/territorial investments. For
example, in 1998-1999, provinces, territories and First Nations invested over $50 million,
which in turn built on significant prior investments to support low-income families with
children that were made by several provinces and territories before the launch of the
NCB. In 1999-2000, provinces, territories and First Nations anticipated their investments
in the NCB to reach $80 million.
The range of benefits and services that provinces, territories and First Nations are
providing to low-income families with children varies according to the needs and
priorities of each region. There are four broad program areas in which key benefits and
services are being provided: child benefits and earned income supplements; child day
care; early childhood services and children-at-risk services; and supplementary health
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Old Age Security
The Old Age Security (OAS) system remains basically the same as described in Canada’s
First Report on articles 6-9 of the Covenant (pp. 53-54).10
Since 1989, higher-income recipients of Old Age Security program benefits are required
to repay the benefits received in part or in total depending on their income for tax
purposes. Thus, for the year 2000, pensioners started to repay benefits when their net
income during the year reached $53,960. At $60,000 annual net income, the percentage
of repayment is approximately 20 percent; at $70,000, it is approximately 50 percent; and
at $80,000, it is about 80 percent. Pensioners who had a net income of approximately
$87,500 in 2000, will repay the totality of benefits received. As of the federal budget
2000, the OAS reduction threshold is now fully indexed to inflation.
The part of the OAS pension that is not repaid is taxable. The income-tested Guaranteed
Income Supplement (GIS) and the Spouse’s Allowance are not taxable; the amount paid
is based on the yearly income of the applicant or, in the case of a couple, the combined
income of the applicant and spouse from other sources.
As of September 2000, the maximum monthly OAS benefit was $424.12. The maximum
GIS payment for a single recipient was $504.05 per month while the maximum for each
partner in a couple was $328.32. The maximum Allowance for the spouse or partner of
an OAS/GIS recipient was $752.44 per month while the maximum for widow(er)s was
$830.70. Total benefits under these programs are estimated at $24.2 billion for 20002001.
In June 2000, over 3.7 million people, virtually everyone aged 65 and over in Canada,
received Old Age Security benefits. Of these people, 36.6 percent received Guaranteed
Income Supplement payments. The proportion of the senior population receiving GIS has
declined over the last 15 years. The main reasons for the decline are the increased
incidence of full Canada Pension Plan benefits and higher personal income from other
sources among newer cohorts of seniors.
Canada Pension Plan
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a contributory, earnings-related social insurance program
which ensures a measure of protection to Canadian workers and their families against the
loss of income due to retirement, disability and death. It operates throughout Canada
except in Québec which has its own, similar program, the Québec Pension Plan. The
Plan is financed by contributions from employees, employers and the self-employed, as
well as earnings on investment of surplus funds. Benefits are subject to income tax and
ongoing payments are adjusted annually based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.
The Old Age Security system comprises three elements: an Old Age Security pension, a Guaranteed Income
Supplement and a Spouse's Allowance.
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The CPP provides for retirement pensions as early as age 60, although those who choose
to receive the pension before age 65 receive lower monthly benefits. It also pays benefits
to disabled contributors, and their children, and provides survivor benefits to spouses and
children as well as lump-sum death benefits.
In March 2000, just under 3.5 million persons were receiving benefits from the Canada
Pension Plan. The total amount to be paid under the CPP is estimated at $19.6 billion for
The Government of Canada worked with the provinces and territories in the 1990s to find
ways of ensuring that the CPP would be sustainable for future generations. Both levels of
governments agreed in 1997 on a strong and balanced package of reform. This resulted
in Parliament enacting Bill C-2 in January 1998, which amended the Canada Pension
Plan. Major changes were made to strengthen the Plan's financing, improve the
investment practices, and moderate the growth in costs. These changes will result in a
much larger reserve fund, projected to rise from two years to about five years of benefits
between 2000 and 2017. This fund is invested at arm’s length from government by an
independent body known as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Contribution
rates — shared equally between employer and employee — rose over six years from
5.85 percent of contributory earnings to 9.9 percent in 2003, and will remain at that level.
The Canada Pension Plan is governed by a joint stewardship to ensure the long-term
financial sustainability of the Plan. In this context, legislative changes, as well as
changes to regulations relating to the schedule of contribution rates and the calculation of
the steady state contribution rate, require the agreement of at least two-thirds of the
provinces with two-thirds of the population.
Employment Insurance Program
Employment Insurance
As a result of reforms introduced in 1996, the Employment Insurance (EI) system better
responds to Canada’s new economic and workplace realities. Under the new system,
there is a stronger link between the amount of paid work done and the length of time the
benefits can be received. The reforms were an effort to influence the work patterns of
Canadians by improving incentives to work and reducing dependency on the system. The
Family Supplement was introduced to provide a top-up to claimants in low-income
families with children, in recognition of their particular needs during periods of
temporary unemployment. This move was accompanied by an increased emphasis on
active measures to help Canadians get back to work. The major elements of the 1996
reforms that brought into place the Employment Insurance Program were detailed in the
last report. Considerable progress has been made in achieving the goals of the EI reform.
The hours-based eligibility system is opening up access to benefits and encouraging
workers to work for longer periods. Part-time workers who work fewer than 15 hours per
week became insured for the first time. Furthermore, a reduction in claims by those just
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meeting the entrance requirement suggests the divisor rule and the hours-based system
are encouraging workers to increase the length of time they work prior to collecting
Benefits are being targeted to those most in need. Claimants in low-income families with
children can receive a higher benefit rate with the Family Supplement. With the top-up
recipients can receive up to 80 percent of their average insurable earnings.
Active re-employment measures are helping more unemployed workers return to work
through: long-term interventions such as Self-Employment; Targeted Wage Subsidies
and Job Creation Partnerships; and short-term interventions such as Employment
Assistance Services, Counselling and Group Services.
In 1998-1999, $2.5 billion was spent on 641,000 interventions. The introduction of Skills
Development Benefits and the Labour Market Development Agreements with the
provinces and territories has resulted in the better tailoring of programs to client and local
labour market needs.
The premium rate for the Employment Insurance program has been reduced every year
since the last report. For the employee this meant a reduction to $2.70 in 1998 and $2.55
in 1999, to reach the rate of $2.40 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2000. For the
employer the premium rate in 2000 is $3.36. Under a current legislative proposal
(Bill C-44 detailed below) the premium rate would be reduced to $2.25 for 2001. In
addition, the Standing Committee on Finance of the House of Commons recommended in
December 1999 that the premium rate setting process be reviewed. This review should
be completed in time to set the 2003 rate level. Premiums are paid on all weekly earnings
up to the yearly maximum of $39,000.
The Maximum Insurable Earnings (MIE) level of $39,000 is about 20 percent higher than
the average wage ($32,400). To avoid creating disincentives to work, Bill C-44 also
proposes maintaining the MIE at $39,000 until the average wage reaches this level.
Following the 1996 program changes, there was no decline in maternity and parental
claims. In fact, despite a declining birth rate, maternity and parental claims have been
increasing. Changes to special benefits (maternity, parental and sickness) are detailed in
the Maternity and Parental Protection section of this report under Article 10.
The decline in the Benefit to Unemployed ratio (B/U ratio) is part of a trend that has been
under way since 1989 — long before the reforms were introduced. In fact, the 1999
Employment Coverage Survey by Statistics Canada found that only half the decline could
be attributed to program changes. The study also suggests that, in 1998, 80 percent of
unemployed Canadians who lost their jobs, or quit with just cause, were eligible for EI.
It should also be noted that regular claimants use on average only about two-thirds of
their entitlement.
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The Government of Canada has funded research on current policies and women’s
poverty. Through Status of Women Canada’s Policy Research Fund, funding has been
provided to a number of research projects studying the issue of women’s poverty.
The Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada published papers under the theme
“The Canada Health And Social Transfer And Its Impacts On Women” in June 1996.
Publications included: Women and the CHST: A Profile of Women Receiving Social
Assistance in 1994; Benefiting Canada’s Children: Perspectives on Gender and Social
Responsibility; The Impact of Block Funding on Women with Disabilities; Women’s
Support, Women’s Work: Child Care in an Era of Deficit Reduction, Devolution,
Downsizing and Deregulation; Women and the Equality Deficit: The Impact of
Restructuring Canada’s Social Programs; Who will be Responsible for Providing Care?
The Impact of the Shift to Ambulatory Care and of Social Economy Policies on Québec
In August 1998, the theme “The Intersection Of Gender And Sexual Orientation: The
Implications Of Policy Changes For Women In Lesbian Relationships” examined how
same-sex couples benefit from social programs. Examples of research includes The
Recognition of Lesbian Couples: An Unequivocal Right; and The Impact of Relationship
Recognition on Lesbian Women in Canada: Still Separate and Only Somewhat
Equivalent are two papers sponsored by the Policy Research Fund. (Some of these papers
are still in progress and not all titles are finalized).
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
Most of the relevant information regarding article 10 of the Covenant has been provided
in earlier reports. Information can also be found in Canada’s Fifth Report on the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
( and Canada’s Second Report on
the Convention on the Rights of the Child (
Taxes and the family
Canada’s personal income tax system uses the individual as the basic unit of taxation;
there is no provision for joint filing and married and common-law couples file
The term “family” is not used in the Income Tax Act, with a very limited exception.11
However, there are a number of provisions in the Income Tax Act that recognize
dependent relationships. For example, there is a spousal credit which can be claimed by
a taxpayer supporting a spouse or common-law partner with little or no income of their
Section 143(4) of the Income Tax Act defines “family” for the purposes of dividing income among members of a
communal organization.
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own. There are a number of tax credits which, if not fully used by a taxpayer, can be
transferred to their spouse or common-law partner. Spouses and common-law partners
may also pool medical expenses and charitable donations for tax credit purposes.
Maternity and parental protection
Statistics Canada (1999) studies indicate that about 85 percent of mothers with paid
employment are covered by maternity benefits. Administrative data indicates that the
number of women receiving maternity benefits has increased by 0.4 percent in 1998,
despite a 4.6 percent decline in the number of births in Canada since the 1996 reform.
The Government of Canada recognizes that claimants in low-income families may need
additional support. Through the Family Supplement, claimants in low-income families
with children can receive up to 80 percent of their insurable earnings during the time they
are on maternity and parental leave. In 1998, about 22 percent of maternity and parental
claimants, most of which are women, received the Family Supplement top-up.
The Canada Labour Code has been amended so that the period for job protection under
the parental leave provision will correspond to the extended Employment Insurance
parental benefits, as a result of an increase in parental benefits under the Employment
Insurance Act, the parental leave in Part III of the Canada Labour Code increases from
24 to 37 weeks. The total of maternity and parental leave provided under Part III of the
Code will be a maximum of 52 weeks.
Part III of the Canada Labour Code dealing with labour standards, contains provisions
pertaining to maternity-related reassignment and leave, whereby an employee who is
pregnant or nursing may, during the period from the beginning of the pregnancy to the
end of the twenty-fourth week following the birth, request the employer to modify her job
functions or reassign her to another job if, by reason of the pregnancy or nursing,
continuing any of her current job functions may pose a risk to her health or to that of the
foetus or child. When such an employee is reassigned to another job, or where her job
functions are modified, she shall be deemed to continue to hold the job that she held at
the time of making the request, and she shall continue to receive the same wages and
benefits. In cases where it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to modify the
employee’s job functions or reassign her, the employee will be granted an unpaid leave of
absence for the duration of the risk as indicated in the medical certificate.
Family reunification
Relevant information is included in Canada’s Second Report on the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (
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Protection and assistance to children and youth
Child support
Information about the general reform of child support measures is found under article 15
of Canada’s Fifth Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (
Provincial and territorial laws determine the age of majority. The age of majority is 18 in
six provinces and is 19 in the four other provinces and the three territories.
In addition to new investments through the Early Childhood Development Agreement,
the Government of Canada supports early childhood learning and care through a special
funding stream under the Social Development Partnerships Program, formerly the Child
Care Visions Program. The Child Care Visions Program was created in 1995 as a
national childcare research and development contribution program. Its primary objective
has been to support research and development projects that will study the adequacy,
outcomes and cost-effectiveness of current best child care practices and service delivery
models. The program has solicited projects that are innovative and national in scope, and
provides essential information, tools and resources to child care providers, governments,
policy makers, national child care organizations, parents and families.
The First Nations/Inuit Child Care Program (FNICC) was introduced in 1995, to provide
First Nations and Inuit communities with improved access to affordable, quality child
care, with the goal that they would have similar access to that available to other Canadian
children. The program has created over 7,000 child care spaces on reserve and in Inuit
communities. The program is managed and delivered by First Nations and Inuit peoples
through the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Strategy with $41 million per year
in funding from the Government of Canada.
The Government of Canada continues to help parents off-set the cost of child care
through the Child Care Expense Deduction. The 1998 budget increased the Child Care
Expense Deduction in the personal income tax system to $7,000 for children under age
seven and to $4,000 for children age 7 to 16 and to $10,000 for children with severe
Youth employment
Information on youth employment can be found in Canada’s Second Report on the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (
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In Canada, divorce legislation allows for child support to be paid for children at or over
the age of majority. The child must be unable, by reason of illness, disability or other
cause, to withdraw from the parents’ charge or to obtain the necessaries of life. Over the
years, the courts have ruled that “other cause” may include secondary or post-secondary
The government of Canada has a long-standing commitment to children, in particular to
children whose families are undergoing separation or divorce. In 1997, the government
took a huge step in reforming family law by introducing child support reforms . The
fundamental objective of these amendments was to protect the rights of children to fair
and adequate support from parents in full and on time. The reforms were accompanied
by financial resources made available to the provinces and territories to assist them in
providing services to families living through a separation or divorce.
This reform has been a solid success. Twelve of the 13 provinces and territories brought
in similar child support reforms shortly following the coming into effect of the federal
legislation. The new child support guidelines have brought about fair, consistent and
predictable amounts of support across the country for children whose parents are
separated or divorced and additional efforts are being made to ensure they receive that
support in full and on time. This step in family law reform involved, among other things,
extensive work with the Canadian provinces and territories given that family law is
governed by laws at the federal, provincial and territorial levels.
In a concerted effort to find ways to continue to advance the well being of children
experiencing separation and divorce, custody and access reforms are now contemplated.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments share a vision of integrated, efficient and
comprehensive justice systems that enables parents to acquire abilities to put the
children’s best interests first and foremost. This renewed justice system will reduce the
human, social and economic costs of divorce and separation, thus strengthening families
in transition and reducing children’s vulnerability.
Immigrants and refugees
The settlement programs of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) are directed at the
individual needs of the whole family. Measures have been taken to ensure access in
particular to female newcomers. The Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program
(ISAP) provides services to all family members, including children, to meet the
immediate needs of immigrants and refugees. Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s
Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Program has included a child
minding component since its inception in order to encourage the participation of women.
Flexible hours of instruction and a transportation allowance are also available. Specific
activities during the reporting period demonstrate further progress in this area. Although
no national criteria on child minding services currently exists for LINC, in March of
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1995, CIC’s Ontario Region undertook a survey to identify issues affecting the provision
of child minding services. The response to this survey was overwhelming and identified
a number of issues for consideration. A child minding resource guide for Ontario Region
was developed as a result to provide guidance in setting up and operating an effective
program. National guidelines are now being developed as a result of this initiative.
Research helps policy makers decide which policies and programs best support children
and their families. The Government of Canada is actively engaged in a number of
targeted research initiatives. The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth is
a long-term study of Canadian children that tracks their development and well-being from
birth to early adulthood. The survey collects information about factors (family, friends,
schools and communities) influencing a child’s physical, behavioural and learning
development. This forms the basis of a directed policy-oriented research program.
At the community level, Understanding the Early Years is a research initiative that
focuses on children under the age of six and involves teachers, parents, guardians and
community agencies. It helps communities understand how their children are doing and
how best to respond to their needs. With this information, communities can put in place
specific action plans that will help their children — both before and after they enter
school — to reach their full potential.
Family violence and violence against women
In recent years, the Family Violence Initiative (FVI) has enhanced the efforts of the
Government of Canada by developing a horizontal management approach to the issue of
family violence. Its Accountability Framework specifies expected results in five key
areas: 1) effective, efficient and coordinated federal policy development and
programming; 2) enhanced prevention and response; 3) development of related
community activities; 4) increased public awareness; and 5) reduced tolerance of the
issue among Canadians.
The Initiative integrates activities of 12 federal government departments, agencies and
corporations. The major sectors represented are health, justice, federal policing and
corrections, housing, human resources, national data gathering, Aboriginal affairs,
women’s issues, multiculturalism and immigration. The Initiative thereby includes
virtually all key federal government policy sectors that have an influence on family
violence. As well, various FVI projects involve partnerships with other levels of
government, First Nations, NGOs, professional associations, universities and the private
Health Canada, as lead department responsible for coordinating the Initiative, manages
the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV) on behalf of all participating
Departments. The NCFV collects, develops and disseminates information and resources
on violence in relationships of kinship, intimacy, dependency or trust. It provides a
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centralized and comprehensive reference, referral and distribution service for information
on aspects of family violence prevention, protection and treatment. NCFV clients include
researchers, health and social service providers, criminal justice officials, students and
educators, policy makers, media representatives and members of community groups and
the general public.
NCFV resources and services, available free of charge in both English and French,
more than 100 publications, including overview papers, reports, discussion papers
and handbooks on family violence issues;
a descriptive listing of more than 100 videos on family violence prevention available
from partner public libraries in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada;
a referral service and directory of resource people and organizations responding to
family violence at the community level across Canada;
a comprehensive library reference collection and capacity for on-line bibliographic
searching of approximately 10,000 books, periodicals and videos on family violence;
a Web site featuring hundreds of links to other organizations, a link to the NCFV
library reference collection, an intelligent search engine and a wide selection of
resources available for viewing, printing and downloading.
As a result of the NCFV’s successful partnerships with professionals and communitybased organizations, Canadian communities now have access to hundreds of new
resources for public education and improved approaches to treatment, prevention,
training and multi-sectoral coordination.
In partnership with Statistics Canada and other federal departments, Health Canada
collaborated on the development and implementation of the 1999 General Social Survey
Victimization Report which provides policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders
with evidence-based information on spousal violence and abuse of older adults to be used
in the development of policies and programs addressing the prevention of family
In partnership with Justice Canada and the health sector, Health Canada released three
handbooks to educate and train health professionals to respond more effectively to abused
women and their children and to deal with the Canadian criminal justice system. These
resources are promoted and disseminated to various stakeholders across Canada through
the National Clearinghouse on Family Violence.
The Policy Research Fund (PRF) of Status of Women Canada produced two research
papers in 1997: Spousal Violence in Custody and Access Disputes: Recommendations for
Reform; and Relocation of Custodial Parents.
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International cooperation
Given their disproportionate representation among the world’s poor and the long-term
impact of poverty on them, children are a priority focus within the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA). The child protection component of the Social
Development Priorities focusses exclusively on the most marginalized children who often
experience exploitation, abuse and discrimination. These children include child
labourers, children affected by armed conflict, sexually exploited children, children with
disabilities, street children, children facing ethnic or religious discrimination, and
children in conflict with the law or in institutional care. In 1999-2000, resources
allocated to child protection amounted to $9 million. The Action Plan on Child
Protection commits CIDA to increasing this amount to $36 million by 2004-2005.
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
Canadians’ current standard of living
From 1994 to 1999, Canada provided the best living standard in the world. Indeed, in
this period, Canada was ranked first on the Human Development Index (HDI) of the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Having so frequently been ranked first
on the HDI over the past decade does nothing to lessen Canada’s determination to
maintain its standing. This is a notable achievement, but continued efforts are necessary
to ensure a high quality of life. The UNDP Human Poverty Index ranks Canada 10th
among industrialized countries. The Government of Canada is aware of the challenges
that have to be met to ensure that all its people have a decent quality living standard, and
especially Aboriginal people, women, single parents, children, youth, persons with
disabilities, immigrants and rural residents. In 1995, 13.1 percent of the total Canadian
population lived below the low-income line.
Measures to reduce poverty in Canada
The measures and initiatives of the Government of Canada to reduce poverty are outlined
in the following three reports: Implementation of the decisions made at the World Summit
for Social Development, Canada’s Response (; Implementation of the
measures adopted by the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
(Habitat II) (; and Canada’s
Action Plan for Food Security ( Most of
the Government of Canada’s poverty reduction initiatives take the gender variable into
account in their preliminary reviews.
Canada has no official poverty measure. The most common measure of low income in
Canada is Statistics Canada’s Low-Income Cut-Offs (LICOs). In the absence of an
accepted definition of poverty, these statistics are often used to study the characteristics
of the relatively worst off families in Canada. However, Statistics Canada has
consistently maintained that LICOs are not a measure of poverty. LICOs define a low-
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income household as one that spends significantly more of its income than an average
equivalent household on the necessities of life (food, shelter and clothing) — and thus
has much lower absolute and relative discretionary income than the norm. The LICO line
is calculated by adding 20 percent to the spending of an average equivalent household on
food, clothing and shelter. Currently, the average household spends about 35 percent of
income on these items, so a low income household is one that spends more than
55 percent. The LICOs, however, are recognized as having several shortcomings as a
tool to measure poverty.
As a result, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Social Services called for the
development of a new measure — the Market Basket Measure (MBM). Under the MBM,
the low-income threshold line would be based on the income needed to purchase a basket
of goods and services, which includes food, clothing, shelter, transportation and other
necessary expenditures (e.g. telephone). This measure is an attempt to calculate the
income needed by a given household to meet its needs, defined not just in subsistence
terms, but also in terms of what is needed to approach community norms. These income
levels are based on the actual costs of an essential basket of goods and services in various
communities across Canada and account more precisely for differences in living costs
across Canada. The measure will identify how many people live in households that fall
below a defined standard of living. The Market Basket Measure should provide a
valuable complement to existing measures in tracking low income.
In Canada, the rate of low income is declining in response to strong economic growth.
An estimated 723,000 families had low incomes in 1999 (the latest data available), down
from 882,000 in 1997. The family low-income rate also declined, from 10.8 percent in
1996 to 8.6 percent in 1999, the lowest rate for economic families of two or more persons
since 1990 (8.5 percent). The financial situation of families with incomes below
Statistics Canada’s post-income tax low income cut-offs also improved slightly between
1996 and 1999.
The Government of Canada is committed to a high and rising quality of life for all
Canadians. In addition to the Canadian Health and Social Transfer (CHST) described
earlier in this report, the federal government offers a number of tax and transfer programs
to assist low-income persons. Some of these measures are targeted towards specific
groups such as senior citizens, children, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal people, etc.
Two key measures delivered through the tax system which provide payments to low- and
middle-income families and individuals are the Canada Child Tax Benefit, which
includes the National Child Benefit supplement, and the Goods and Services Tax credit.
The Government of Canada also assists groups at greatest risk of falling into poverty
through such programs as the Community Action Program for Children; Youth Internship
Canada; Youth Service Canada; the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy,
the Canada Child Tax Benefit, and the First Nations National Child Benefit.
Aboriginal people
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First Nations, Inuit and Innu communities in partnership with Department of Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) are endeavouring to improve economic and social
conditions in ways that will make a real difference in First Nations, Inuit and Innu
peoples’ lives. By the end of 1999, First Nations were delivering almost all social and
economic programs funded by INAC. About 86 percent of Indian and Inuit
Programming funds go directly to First Nations and their organizations, primarily for
basic services such as education, social services, community infrastructure and local
government — services that other Canadians receive from their provincial, municipal or
territorial governments.
Under the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Partnership Fund, a total of 13 projects valued at
$18.85 million had been approved during 1999. Also in 1999, a total of $12.5 million
supported 181 business projects under the Economic Development Opportunity Fund and
the Resource Acquisition Initiative, resulting in the creation of 957 full-time and
494 part-time direct jobs. More than 12,500 reserve land leases, permits and licences
were processed and registered during the fiscal year, the majority of which directly
support First Nations economic development activities.
The Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business has produced contracts with a total
value of $75 million that have helped to start up 300 Aboriginal enterprises and stimulate
job creation.
The Young Entrepreneurs Micro-loan Program, in conjunction with the Association of
Aboriginal Capital Corporations, helps facilitate access to loan and investment capital.
Industry Canada, regional agencies and Department of Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada (INAC) are working in partnership with the Aboriginal private sector and other
stakeholders to foster innovation, market expansion, access to capital and information
about businesses and services.
Forums on business partnerships like “Business at the Summit” in British Columbia,
Ontario’s Forum on Economic Renewal and the Joint Economic Development Initiative
in New Brunswick promote co-operation and partnership between the private sector and
Aboriginal governments in the area of Aboriginal economic development.
As part of a round table on financial services attended by representatives of the federal
government, the Canadian Bankers Association and various financial institutions, ways
were identified of facilitating access to commercial loans on reserves.
In April 1998, INAC’s Ontario regional office and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal
Business organized a joint conference on economic renewal that got results.
The Fishing Licence Transfer Program is expanding opportunities for Aboriginals to
work in the commercial fishery. In the Atlantic Canada region, a number of licence
series have been retired and reissued to Aboriginal communities.
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The Resource Access Negotiations Program of the Department of Indian and Northern
Affairs more than doubled to reach $4.8 million in 1998-1999, thus offering more
economic benefits for Aboriginal communities.
In November 1998, some Métis leaders joined a large Canadian delegation to take part in
a trade mission featuring natural resources.
The First Nations SchoolNet Program of Industry Canada works in partnership with the
Assembly of First Nations and Canada’s major telephone companies to prevent the digital
divide. By providing First Nations schools and communities with leading-edge
technology and equipment that provide high-speed access to the Internet, the Program
allows Aboriginal people to fully participate in the new economy and gives them the
opportunity to be at the forefront of new technology usage.
Right to adequate food
The Government of Canada supports a wide spectrum of international organizations,
thousands of community groups and Canadian volunteer agencies in order to help with
concerted efforts to end hunger in the world. As a major exporter of food, related
products and know-how and one of the world’s major food aid donour countries, Canada
has made very valuable contributions to worldwide food security.
Canada ranks high among nations in average income levels and per capita food supplies
and among the lowest in the real cost of food and the share of incomes spent on food. As
such, the vast majority of Canada’s 31 million people is food secure; however Canada is
not shielded from the problem of food insecurity. Although the majority of Canadians
are safe from hunger, some groups may be exposed to it more than others, as
demonstrated by some quantitative studies on the use of food banks, poverty and dietary
Canada’s Action Plan for Food Security
Canada has developed an Action Plan for Food Security in response to the World Food
Summit (WFS) commitment made by the international community to reduce by half, the
number of undernourished people by 2015 ( It is the result of extensive consultations between various levels of
government, civil society and private sector representatives. The priorities for Canadian
actions were established collectively under the coordination of a Joint Consultative
Group. Canada's Action Plan encompasses both domestic and international actions. It
addresses the seven commitments of the WFS Plan of Action and provides the framework
to sustain an on-going effort to improve food security within Canada and abroad.
The responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the Action Plan rests with the
Food Security Bureau of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The Bureau
coordinates information on food security, monitors implementation of the Action Plan,
and reports on progress to the Committee on World Food Security. It is also responsible
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for facilitating contact between Canadian stakeholders that are making efforts to further
the cause of food security.
A Consultative Group on Food Security has been established involving representatives of
interested federal, provincial and territorial departments and agencies, and some 30 nongovernmental organizations involved in food security at both the domestic and
international levels, to fulfill this mandate. In addition, an inter-active “Report Form”
was established on the Food Security Bureau’s Web site to facilitate the submission of
input by organizations into the development of Canada’s Progress Report.
Canada’s Progress Report, prepared in 1999, includes the following in relation to the
right to food: “Canada supports the need to clarify the meaning and content of the right to
food, as stated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
and continues to support and work with the international community and governments in
this area” (
Canadian civil society has taken an active role in trying to clarify and determine how to
respect, protect and fulfil the right to food. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank, for example,
participated in a Santa Barbara Consultation, in February-March 1998, to review the
merits of the various approaches to achieving commitment to the “right to food.” It
promoted the adoption of the International Code of Conduct on the Human Right to
Adequate Food and achieved NGO consensus on this approach. The Canadian
Foodgrains Bank is also working in cooperation with FIAN-International (Food First
Information and Action Network, based in Germany) on the development of a short form
version of the Code of Conduct.
In response to the World Declaration on Nutrition (World Health Organization and
Agriculture Organization, 1992), Health Canada established a Joint Steering Committee
to prepare a national nutritional plan. Released in 1996, Nutrition for Health: An Agenda
for Action, builds on the population health model and sets out four strategic directions to
address nutrition issues in Canada, specifically: (i) reinforce healthy eating practices;
(ii) support nutritionally vulnerable populations; (iii) continue to enhance the availability
of foods that support healthy eating; and (iv) support nutrition research. The action plan
encourages policy and program development that is coordinated, multisectoral, supports
new and existing partnerships, promotes efficient use of limited resources and strengthens
research to improve the nutritional health of Canadians.
Health Canada promotes the nutritional health and well-being of Canadians by
collaboratively defining, promoting and implementing evidence-based nutrition policies
and standards, including nutrition recommendations and dietary guidelines. These
include: Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating; Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy
Eating — Focus on Children Six to Twelve Years; Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy
Eating — Focus on Preschoolers; Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy — National
Guidelines for the Childbearing Years, and Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants. These
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underpin nutrition policies, standards, education programs and meal planning initiatives
across the country.
Provinces and territories play a critical role in promoting the nutritional health and wellbeing at the community level. Nutrition policies and programs at the provincial and local
level are designed to address specific local needs while mobilizing broader community
participation and resources in support of health promotion/prevention activities.
Programs vary from province to province and between communities. Many of these
nutrition programs build upon standards and guidelines developed collaboratively at the
national level, such as Canada’s Food Guide to Health Eating.
Health Canada provides leadership and coordination to the Federal, Provincial, Territorial
Group on Nutrition (FPTGN). This group is critical to collaborative action on nutrition
and healthy eating in Canada. The FPTGN brings together the ministries of health at the
provincial and territorial working level to inform policy and programs.
In the mid-1990s, Canadian and American scientists began working together to establish
the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), through a review process overseen by the US Food
and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. Health
Canada will use the DRIs in a variety of policies and programs that benefit the health and
safety of Canadians. The DRIs will influence the development of regulatory standards,
assessment of dietary intakes, and the development of dietary guidance for the general
population and for specific life stages.
Throughout the 1990s, Health Canada, in collaboration with provinces, played a key role
in provincial nutrition surveys. In 1999, Health Canada established the Food and
Nutrition Surveillance System (FNSS) Working Group to advocate for inclusion of
nutrition and physical measures in ongoing national population health surveys. As well,
the Working Group advocates for a national food and nutrition surveillance system to
address critical surveillance needs. Efforts of the FNSS Working Group have led to
implementation of the first national nutrition survey in Canada in over 30 years, to
commence in January 2004.
In 1999, a further investment was made to strengthen Health Canada’s Food Safety and
Nutrition Program. Health Canada is committed to developing food safety and nutrition
standards and policies to safeguard and promote the health of Canadians. While the
primary aim of this initiative is focussed on ensuring the safety of food, it will also
support nutrition and healthy eating activities.
Health Canada is committed to developing and updating dietary guidance in a timely and
efficient manner in response to the emergence of new issues and scientific evidence
related to nutrition. In addition, Health Canada will develop public education initiatives
and resources to help Canadians make healthy food choices, for example, information on
how to use the nutrition label on food products. These important initiatives will be
undertaken through continued collaboration with provincial and territorial governments
and other partners.
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Some of the key actions relevant to food security include working with social policy
decision makers to address the needs of vulnerable people, developing a database to
better define the vulnerable populations and to better understand their food and nutrition
issues, monitoring the cost of a nutritious food basket and using the information in the
development of education programs and income support initiatives, and collaborating
intersectorally to ensure food safety. This builds on commitments and actions that flow
from current plans, such as Canada’s nutrition plan Nutrition for Health: An Agenda for
Action (1996); Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan; revisions to
legislation, including the Fisheries Act; and Canada’s evolving economic, social and
environmental programs and policies.
In 1998, Health Canada developed The National Nutritious Food Basket 1998 (NNFB)
— a tool to assess the cost of healthy eating in communities across Canada. A number of
provinces have either adopted or adapted this tool for their own use. The “Market Basket
Measure” (MBM, described above), a defined basket of goods and services including
food, is used to assess the adequacy of income. The MBM uses the NNFB and the
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development’s Alternative Northern Food
Basket for this purpose.
Women and infants
The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) is a comprehensive community-based
program that supports pregnant women who face conditions of risk that threaten their
health and the development of their babies. The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program
provides the resources for community-based groups to offer supports such as nutrition
(food and/or vitamin/mineral supplements, nutrition counselling, food skills), knowledge
and education (specialized counselling on prenatal health issues, breastfeeding and infant
development), social support, and assistance with access to services (shelter, health care,
specialized counselling). Participants in these projects are encouraged to modify
unhealthy and high risk behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and other substance use.
The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program is especially designed to meet the needs of those
pregnant women most at risk for poor birth outcome: women living in poverty, teens,
women who use alcohol, tobacco or other harmful substances, women living in violent
situations, Aboriginal women, recent immigrants, women living in social or geographic
isolation or with limited access to services.
In 1999, Health Canada released Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy — National
Guidelines for the Childbearing Years. These prenatal nutrition guidelines discuss
nutrition and healthy eating not only during pregnancy but throughout the childbearing
years as they relate to pregnancy. They are directed to health practitioners, including
physicians, nurses, midwives, dietitians and nutritionists, pharmacists, educators and
fitness professionals, who, through the course of their work, regularly offer nutritionrelated advice and guidance to women.
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Aboriginal people
Many Aboriginal communities are located in remote areas, thereby increasing the
challenges of access to a nutritious commercial food supply, while at the same time still
enjoying access, although often reduced, to traditional hunted and gathered foods.
Nutritious, commercial foods are costly due to the great distances they must be
transported and also because of their level of perishability. These high food costs are in
conflict with the high numbers of people living on limited incomes, e.g. social assistance.
Traditional foods are highly nutritious; however, hunting pressures due to increased
population, costs of hunting and the question of contamination of the wild foods put up
barriers to this food supply.
Work has continued to refine and focus the Food Mail Program lead by the Department
of Indian and Northern Affairs and supported by Health Canada, to subsidize the
transport of the most nutritious foods into remote, isolated communities, thereby easing
the cost of this component of the commercial food supply. At the same time, the First
Nations and Inuit Component (FNIC) of the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP),
provides nutritious foods, nutrition education and counseling and breast feeding support
in Aboriginal communities to all First Nation and Inuit women. Particular focus of
CPNP-First Nation and Inuit is to those most at risk, such as teens, single mothers, and
women with addictions. As well, Health Canada continues its specific partnership with
First Nations communities to study contaminants in the traditional food supply in order to
determine if there are levels of risk and if so, design an appropriate strategy for the
Federal and territorial nutritionists and dietitians play a key role in the promotion and
education of nutrition and healthy eating in First Nations and Inuit communities. With a
growing understanding of the determinants of health, there is an increased awareness and
focus on the factors that contribute to a well nourished population. Through a population
health approach, along with individual supports, nutrition education and promotion is
increasing. Intensive nutrition training of community health and social services workers,
particularly through the First Nations and Inuit Component of the Canada Prenatal
Nutrition Program (CPNP-FNIC) has been implemented. Access to nutritionists and
dieticians has improved over the past five years and community workers are better
trained in nutrition and food management.
Initial reports indicate that pregnant women and mothers participating in the CPNP-FNIC
are more aware of healthy eating, are motivated to make positive nutritional changes,
take advantage of the food supplementation, are more likely to initiate and continue
breast-feeding and improve other aspects of their lifestyle, e.g. smoking cessation. A full
evaluation of this program is scheduled to be completed in 2003.
In those communities using the Food Mail Program, a marked increase has been seen in
the volumes of product covered under the Program, thereby indicating an increase in
consumption of nutritious perishable foods; reporting indicates an improvement in the
overall quality of nutritious perishable foods, and a consistency of more affordable
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pricing. Monitoring of pricing is done on a continuous basis to ensure that the subsidy is
passed on to the consumer. There are some community pilot studies underway to further
improve the effectiveness of the food mail program.
Since 1999, an Aboriginal Headstart Program has been implemented in First Nations
communities to complement the Aboriginal Headstart Program delivered outside of First
Nations communities. This program includes nutrition as one of its six priorities. A
particular emphasis is given to nutritious meals within the Program; however, the overall
focus of the nutrition component is to instill healthy eating practices and knowledge both
with children and their families.
In 1999, the Federal government introduced the Canadian Diabetes Initiative, the
Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative and a First Nations and Inuit Home and Community Care
Program. Nutrition will play a role in both prevention and treatment management of
diabetes. Through these initiatives and program nutrition promotion, prevention,
treatment and support will be implemented, according to communities’ needs.
The Fishing Licence Transfer Program increases opportunities for Aboriginal people to
work in the commercial fishery. The Resource Access Negotiations Program of the
Department of Indian and Northern Affairs has more than doubled to reach $4.8 million
in 1998-1999, thus offering more economic benefits to Aboriginal communities.
Other key initiatives to support increased Aboriginal access to natural resource
opportunities included the Resource Access Negotiations Program, which supports First
Nation and Inuit negotiations to access and manage both on- and off-reserve resource
opportunities, the Resource Acquisition Initiative, which supports resource sector and
related business opportunities, including the acquisition of natural resource permits and
licences, and the First Nation Forestry Program, created jointly by the departments of
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Natural Resources Canada and First Nations to
improve conditions in First Nations communities with full consideration of the principles
of sustainable forest management.
International cooperation
Canada is working with other countries to create a climate favouring planetary food
security. As the leader in providing Canada’s Official Development Assistance (ODA),
the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) supports programs in
developing countries and countries in transition that attempt to provide technical
assistance to the local and intermediate levels and thereby strengthen the macroeconomic
Canada is committed to supporting the food production and food security needs of its
developing-country partners. Canada’s approach to development cooperation on this
issue has four cornerstones: 1) development and dissemination of sustainable production
(technology) and marketing options which satisfy the personal needs of, and levels of
technology practisable by, disadvantaged rural poor, including and especially women;
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2) support for a policy environment in partner countries which is conducive to sustainable
agricultural development and an appreciation for the strategic role which the section must
play in the social and economic development of most developing countries; 3) support for
the broad adoption of liberalized international trade arrangements for agricultural
commodities; and 4) encouragement of broader Canadian participation in international
agricultural development.
Canada continues to support the Consultative Group on International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR). More integrated food security programming is being initiated in
several bilateral international assistance programs, such as Ghana and Ethiopia.
Household-level food security has also been incorporated into the Action Plan on Health
and Nutrition under CIDA’s Social Development Priorities.
The Government of Canada ratified the Declaration on World Food Security of the World
Food Summit (WFS) held in Rome in November 1996 and the WFS Plan of Action.
Specific information on this issue is found in Chapter III of Canada’s Action Plan for
Food Security already cited. Canada provides development assistance in the form of
goods, services, the transfer of knowledge and skills, and financial contributions.
Canada participates fully in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
(FAO) Committee on Commodity Problems as well as the FAO Consultative SubCommittee on Surplus Disposal (CSSD).
Right to adequate housing
Canadians are among the best housed people in the world. The vast majority live in
comfortable dwellings that contribute to their quality of life. Although some Canadians
experience housing needs, most of them have access to housing of acceptable size and
quality at affordable prices.
The extensive framework of legislation, policy and practice which structures housing
related activities in Canada is partly provided in the National Housing Act (NHA) and
the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act. As the federal government’s
national housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
received a new mandate in 1996 when the federal government redefined its role in
housing. This new mandate covers activities in home financing, export of Canadian
housing products, services and expertise, social housing, housing-related research and
sharing research results. The NHA and CMHC Act were subsequently amended in 1999
to give the Corporation more flexibility in carrying out this renewed mandate. As stated
in the NHA, the purpose of federal activities is to “promote the construction of new
houses, the repair and modernization of existing houses, and the improvement of housing
and living conditions” and to “protect the availability of adequate funding for housing at
low cost.”
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Market-related housing activity
The housing finance system in Canada is highly developed and supported by all
government levels and the private sector. Recent low inflation has enabled low mortgage
rates which create favourable conditions in residential markets. The new mandate
CMHC received in 1996 allows the corporation to operate on a more commercial basis in
the face of increased competition in the mortgage financing market and changing
technological environment.
Within this national environment, CMHC employs various policy tools under the NHA.
Approximately one in every three Canadian homeowners has utilized CMHC mortgage
loan insurance to purchase a new or existing home. This is an inexpensive vehicle for
borrowers to obtain low down-payment financing at the lowest possible mortgage rates.
Down payments may be as low as five percent. Mortgage insurance is also available for
the financing of multi-residential properties, providing landlords and developers with
access to financing of up to 85 percent of the loan to value ratio, and hence helping to
provide a supply of affordable rental units. Mortgage-backed securities provide access to
lower-cost means to fund mortgages by “securitising” large numbers of mortgages for
subsequent sale to investors. In response to the more commercialized and flexible NHA
housing finance mandate announced by the federal government, several new tools have
been introduced. In 1995, CMHC introduced a computer-based leading-edge on-line
underwriting system, to provide CMHC’s approved lenders with an electronic tool to
accurately assess mortgage risk. Numerous improvements to this system have since been
implemented to increase accuracy and client service.
Assisted housing
Most administrative arrangements relating to social housing programs and delivery are
governed by federal-provincial/territorial agreements on social housing. As of
December 31, 1999, the portfolio of federally assisted housing units totalled
639,200 units (6.6 percent of all households in Canada). In 1998-1999, combined direct
federal-provincial expenditures were $3.8 billion. Municipalities are also active in
promoting social housing.
In 1996, the federal government opened negotiations to offer provinces and territories the
opportunity to assume responsibility for the management of existing federal social
housing resources. As of December 1999, the new arrangements had been entered into
with nine provinces and territories.
In 1994, the federal government reinstated the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance
Program (RRAP) for two years at a cost of $100 million. RRAP provides assistance to
bring homeowner and rental housing units, and rooming houses, up to minimum property
standards, to complete emergency repairs on homes in rural areas, and to make housing
accessible for persons with disabilities.
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Assistance from the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program is targeted to housing
occupied by low income households. Since December 1995, the Government of Canada
has extended these programs several times, culminating in a five-year extension
announced in January 1998, supplemented by a doubling of the budget for four years,
announced in December 1999. During this last announcement, which was under the
auspices of the government’s homelessness strategy, a new component of RRAP was
introduced to convert non-residential buildings into housing units. From 1995 to 1999
inclusive, close to 51,000 units were repaired under RRAP, a little under 6,500 additional
units under the Emergency Repair Program (ERP) and upgrades to over 7,000 units were
made under Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence (HASI).
Housing needs assessment and possible responses
Canada has developed a comprehensive system for measuring the nature and incidence of
housing problems, called the Core Housing Need Model. This Model examines a
household’s situation to determine whether its housing is adequate, suitable (uncrowded)
and affordable. A dwelling is considered to be adequate, if it is not in need of major
repairs. Suitable dwellings are those that meet the National Occupancy Standards; they
have a sufficient number of bedrooms given the size and composition of the household.
Dwellings are defined to be affordable if households do not have to spend 30 percent or
more of their total before tax household income on shelter. Households living below
these standards are then examined to see if they have the income needed to afford the
average market rent for adequate, uncrowded housing in their communities. For example,
most owners and some renters who were paying more than 30 percent or more of their
incomes for shelter in 1996 could have found decent rental housing in their area for less
than 30 percent of their incomes. CMHC’s electronic data base for assessing housing
conditions shows that, in 1996, there were 1.8 million households in core housing need.
This represents about 18 percent of all households in Canada, with almost seven in 10 of
these being renter households.
Improving housing affordability and choice
The First Home Loan Insurance Program, introduced in 1992, reduced the minimum
down-payment required by first time home buyers to purchase a housing unit to 5 percent
by extending mortgage insurance coverage from 90 percent to 95 percent. In 1998, this
program was extended to allow lenders to provide up to 95 percent financing to all home
buyers, not just first time buyers. The Home Buyers Plan allows households with
accumulated savings in registered retirement savings plans to temporarily withdraw up to
$20,000 of these funds without a tax penalty, for the purpose of purchasing a first home.
Since inception of this program in 1992, more than one million individuals have
participated, releasing over $10.4 billion of their capital to facilitate access to home
ownership. Construction of new housing and substantial renovation of existing units may
also be eligible for a 36 percent rebate of the Goods and Services Tax (which is a form of
value-added tax) paid. Capital gains on a principal residence may also entitle an
exemption from personal income tax for some homeowners.
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From the Affordability and Choice Today (ACT) program’s inception in 1989 to the end
of 1999, 149 projects had been awarded ACT grants, with 62 completed projects having
been documented in individual case studies. The mandate of the Canadian Centre for
Public/Private Partnerships in Housing (CCPPH) is to help community groups develop
affordable housing, without long-term subsidies. Financing is supported through the
provision of CMHC mortgage insurance, often with the application of innovative
financing techniques. From its establishment in 1991 until year end December 1999,
more than 300 projects involving some 15,400 units have been facilitated.
Homelessness has become a growing concern in Canadian society. Consequently, on
March 23, 1999, the Minister of Labour, was appointed as Co-ordinator of the Federal
Response on Homelessness. A National Secretariat on Homelessness was established to
provide support to the Minister and work with other stakeholders to address the issue of
homelessness. Given the complexity of the homelessness situation, no one level of
government can address the issue alone. Rather, a partnership approach is needed.
The Secretariat is now in the process of transforming the pilot-tested software into a
supported and operational information system available to shelters and communities
across the country.
On December 17, 1999, the Government of Canada announced the investment of
$753 million, over the following three years, in an integrated and co-ordinated approach
to help alleviate and prevent homelessness in Canada. With increased RRAP funding as
part of the strategy, the initiative builds on proven solutions and fosters partnerships with
provinces, territories and other levels of government and the private and voluntary
There are two components to the homelessness strategy:
The creation of new programming: The Supporting Communities Partnership
Initiative (SCPI) ($305 million) will assist communities to engage all levels of
government and partners to develop the services and supports needed to address the
issue of homelessness. The initiative will also help in the development of long-term
plans to address the underlying causes of homelessness, with a view to preventing its
occurrence. The Surplus Real Property for Homelessness Fund ($10 million) will
facilitate the transfer of surplus federal lands and/or properties to communities or
others to be used for homelessness initiatives.
The enhancement of existing programs: New funding for an Urban Aboriginal
Strategy ($59 million) will help communities address urban Aboriginal homelessness.
Additional funding for the Youth Employment Initiatives ($59 million) is targeted to
programs designed to help youth-at-risk, including homeless youth, acquire and
develop basic and advanced skills. As part of the Government of Canada’s Family
Violence Initiative, funding is provided for the Shelter Enhancement Initiative
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($43 million) to develop and enhance emergency shelters and second stage housing
intended to serve women and their children fleeing domestic violence. With the
additional funding for the Shelter Enhancement Initiative youth who are victims of
family violence (including homeless youth) are now included as one of the target
populations. New Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program funding ($268
million) will support the renovation and repair of housing occupied by low-income
people to bring it up to basic health and safety standards.
The primary focus of the SCPI is the absolute homeless (those individuals living in
emergency shelters, on the streets and/or in places not meant for human habitation), as
they are in the most need. To address this need, the funding for the SCPI has been
divided into two streams: 80 percent has been allocated to 10 communities that have a
significant absolute homeless problem, while the remaining 20 percent is for other
communities that can demonstrate they have an absolute homeless problem. The
10 communities identified are Halifax, Québec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto,
Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.
Over the next three years, $7 million has been allocated for research, reporting and
accountability. There is currently a lack of reliable and valid comparable statistics on
homelessness in Canada. The most recent “national” count of the homeless was
conducted in 1987 by the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD). In
response to this gap, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) undertook
the development of the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS).
The information collected through HIFIS can be used to conduct analysis of the shelter
segment of absolute homelessness. HIFIS will benefit the municipal, provincial and
federal governments by identifying the characteristics of the homeless population served
by the various shelters. By the end of December 2000, HIFIS had been piloted in eight of
the main SCPI communities. After successfully pilot testing HIFIS, CMHC transferred it
to Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). Since then, HRDC has further
developed HIFIS and has been working with communities across Canada on its
implementation. As part of both its 1996 and 2001 Census efforts, Statistics Canada
worked to improve its data for people in collectives, in particular trying to better capture
the homeless staying in shelters on census night. As well, commissioned by the National
Secretariat on Homelessness, Statistics Canada is investigating the feasibility of doing a
national street count. As well, to enhance the knowledge base on homelessness, it is
expected that annual reports will be released on the Government of Canada’s
homelessness strategy. The first report is scheduled to be released in December 2000;
additional information will be provided in Canada’s next report.
The Government of Canada spends approximately $1.9 billion a year on social housing
across the country to assist low-income Canadians, including those “at risk” of
homelessness. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Canadian Centre for
Public-Private Partnerships in Housing developed over 2,100 affordable housing units in
1998. In 1999, more than 4,100 units were created. Additionally, CMHC’s Homegrown
Solutions helped local communities find creative ways to meet their housing needs.
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Between 1995 and 1999, some 13,800 housing units were rehabilitated with funding
targeted to the rental and rooming house components of the Rental Residential
Rehabilitation Assistance Program (Rental RRAP) and the equivalent provincial
Aboriginal people
In July 1996, a new federal on-reserve housing policy was announced under which First
Nations have increased flexibility on how the funds are to be used. Changes as a result of
this policy have contributed to improvements in housing conditions on reserve.
By the end of 1999, the adequacy of housing on reserve increased to more than
57 percent from the 50 percent adequacy rate as of March 1996, and the total number of
houses on reserve increased from 78,200 to 88,500. In addition, more First Nations are
demonstrating a fundamental shift toward taking “ownership” of the issue and are
actively seeking a range of innovative solutions in all aspects of housing. Over the last
ten years, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has been able, through internal
reallocation, to establish a budget of $177 million for new construction and renovations
for on-reserve housing. CMHC expenditures for housing on reserve was $99 million and
$92.1 million for fiscal years 1997-1998 and 1998-1999, respectively.
A 1998 assessment of the policy found that it appears to be meeting its primary
objectives, and is providing the flexibility and encouragement to help First Nations focus
more resources at rehabilitating existing housing. The assessment also found that most
First Nations are promoting individual responsibility by requiring their members to carry
out basic maintenance on their houses and to repay housing loans.
Funding for First Nations capital facilities and maintenance grew from $688.6 million in
1994-1995, to $845.2 million in 1997-1998, and $759.5 million in 1998-1999.
Approximately one third of the budget is for the operation and maintenance of existing
infrastructure and facilities, while two-thirds is designated for the acquisition of capital
assets including water, sewage, schools, fire protection and roads.
Water supply and sewer systems in Aboriginal communities often do not meet general
standards. Aboriginal housing is a special source of concern, since 32 percent of nonfarm households off reserve urgently need it. On and off reserve, half of households live
in dwellings that meet or exceed standards for acceptable size and quality.
Information about housing on reserves, ministerial housing guarantees, funds for housing
construction and funds for housing and infrastructure innovation can be found in
Canada’s report Implementing the Outcomes of the Second United Nations Conference on
Human Settlements (Habitat II): Canada’s Response (
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A new housing innovation fund promotes the strengthening of capacities and innovation
in this field. Eight projects are in hand. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs
funded 54 water supply and sewer projects across the country in 1998-1999.
There is no legislation or institution to prevent home ownership in Canada; however,
there may be socio-economic impediments to such ownership. For women, ownership is
more closely tied to family status than it is for men. Men alone and fathers alone are more
likely to own houses (52 percent) than women (29 percent). The affordability of housing
is a problem that particularly affects women. The various federal housing programs and
measures take this into account.
Under the Shelter Enhancement Program (SEP), which aids women and children leaving
domestic violence, more than 3,100 shelter units were upgraded or created between 1995
and 1999. In December 1999, SEP was augmented by $43 million over four years and
expanded to include youth who are victims of family violence.
The Women’s Program of Status of Women Canada does not fund the building of
housing but does support strategies to increase women's access to affordable housing.
Some examples follow. The B.C. Women’s Housing Coalition (1996-1997) used focus
groups, round table discussions and research to explore several themes focused on
women's housing strategies and issues in British Columbia. By working in partnership
with several stakeholder organizations, the coalition developed recommendations for
systemic change aimed at making a more responsive housing delivery system with better
understanding of challenges and barriers that women face in the current system. The
Calgary Native Women’s Shelter (1999) focused on institutional change with women’s
shelters regarding culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal women. They conducted
cross-cultural awareness for staff on issues unique to Aboriginal women in the areas of
law, financial support, training, and housing. Several projects looked at the policy
barriers or systemic barriers which prevent woman and their families from meeting their
basic housing needs, such as the Life Spin Women’s Resource Centre (1998-1999); the
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, which addressed the gendered nature of
poverty and developed tools to facilitate cooperation between provincial/territorial
governments and non-governmental organizations on women’s economic and social
rights, including affordable housing (1999); and the Ontario Older Women’s Network,
which focused on the housing situation of older women to bring forward policy changes
The Women’s Program and Regional Operations Directorate has approved funding for
17 initiatives designed for homeless women; it supported the World March of Women
(1999-2000) in defending causes including the right to decent housing in all countries.
The Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada, under the theme “Reducing
Women’s Poverty: Policy Options, Directions And Frameworks” issued in September
1997 papers such as: The Changing Nature of Home Care and its Impact on Women’s
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Vulnerability to Poverty; The Dynamics of Women’s Poverty in Canada; Reducing
Poverty Among Older Women: The Potential of Retirement Incomes Policies; Building
Capacity: Enhancing Women’s Economic Participation Through Housing; Social Policy,
Gender Inequality and Poverty; and Economic Impact of Health, Income Security and
Labour Policies on Informal Caregivers of Frail Seniors.
Two more themes issued by the Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada,
“Factoring Diversity Into Policy Analysis And Development: New Tools, Frameworks,
Methods, And Applications” (September 1997) and “Young Women At Risk”
(September 1999) produced papers such as Housing Policy Options for Women Living in
Urban Poverty: An Action Research Project in Three Canadian Cities and Young Women
and Homelessness in Canada. These studies are used by a number of analysts as basic
references for policy development.
Matrimonial real property
The federal government recognizes there is a legislative gap in the Indian Act with regard
to the issue of matrimonial property, and acknowledges the Committee’s concerns. The
Indian Act is silent on the use, occupation and possession of land — including the
matrimonial home — and does not speak to the division of interests in land on reserve in
case of a marital breakdown. In addition, the provinces, which normally have jurisdiction
over such issues, may not validly legislate concerning land within the federal
competence, such as Indian reserves.
The Government of Canada remains committed to finding a practical solution to this
issue. Consultative processes and research on this issue are currently underway. It is
hoped that the results of this research will identify concrete options to resolve this issue
through legislation or policy development.
One such option is contained in the First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA),
passed in June 1999. This legislation provides the framework to enable the 14 signatory
First Nations to establish their own land management regimes and take over the
administration and management of their reserve lands. The FNLMA includes provisions
to address the issue of matrimonial real property. The signatory First Nations have
agreed to establish community processes to develop rules and procedures to deal with
matrimonial property within 12 months from the date the land code takes effect. In
essence, the First Nation community itself will develop the land codes and procedures.
These codes must address the issue of division of matrimonial real property and they
cannot discriminate on the basis of sex.
While the FNLMA is intended, at this time, to apply only to the 14 participating First
Nations, Canada is open to considering its application to other interested First Nations.
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International cooperation
Detailed information on international co-operation will be found in the following reports:
Implementing the Outcomes of the Second United Nations Conference on Human
Settlements (Habitat II): Canada’s Response (; and Implementation of
decisions made at the World Summit for Social Development, Canada’s Response
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
The Government of Canada belongs to the World Health Organization. It has taken part
in a number of negotiations for international framework conventions on public health
campaigns. Canada has submitted several reports to the United Nations dealing with the
health of Canadians, including the Fifth Report on the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women ( and the Second Report on the Convention on the Rights of the
Child ( The Government of Canada
also prepared Toward a Healthy Future: Second Report on the Health of Canadians
( in September 1999 as well
as the Statistical Report on the Health of Canadians (
Canada has made substantial progress in improving the health of its population, as
demonstrated by increases in life expectancy, reduced infant mortality and a better
quality of life for middle-aged and older Canadians. We also note that most Canadians
are taking steps to improve their health. Every age group and region has its own
challenges. The Aboriginal peoples of Canada remain highly vulnerable to health
Such factors as socio-economic and physical environment, early childhood experiences,
personal health habits and biology have effects on health, and these factors function
independently of investments in health care.
The Population Health Approach provides the basis for Health Canada’s policy and
program development to improve the health status of the entire population and to reduce
inequities in health status between population groups. Strategies are based on an
assessment of the conditions of risk and benefit that may apply across the entire
population, or to particular subgroups within the population. The approach uses the
following determinants of health: income and social status; social support networks;
education; employment and working conditions; social environments; physical
environments; biology and genetic endowment; personal health practices and coping
skills; healthy child development; health services; gender; and culture.
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Health care system
Detailed information on the health care system in Canada, as well as on the health of the
Canadian population can be found in several reports available at Health Canada’s Web
site ( For a summary of the health care system in Canada,
please refer to Canada’s Health Care System and for details on the provincial/territorial
public health insurance plans, refer to Canada Health Act Annual Report 1998-99.
Canada has a predominantly publicly financed, privately delivered health care system,
which provides access to universal, comprehensive coverage for medically necessary
hospital and physician services. It is best described as an interlocking set of ten provincial
and three territorial health insurance plans, resulting from the constitutional assignment
of jurisdiction over most aspects of health care to the provincial order of government.
Canada’s Third Report on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights ( provides additional details
on the health care system. The federal government assists in the financing of provincial
and territorial health care services through fiscal transfers, primarily the Canada Health
and Social Transfer (CHST).
In 1984, the Government of Canada enacted legislation (the Canada Health Act) for
publicly funded health care insurance. It affirms its commitment to a universal,
accessible, comprehensive, portable and publicly administered health insurance system
for all Canadians. The Canada Health Act establishes criteria and conditions related to
insured health care services and extended health care services that the provinces and
territories must meet in order to receive the full federal cash contribution under the
CHST. These criteria are: public administration (the administration of the health care
insurance plan of a province or territory must be carried out on a non-profit basis by a
public authority); comprehensiveness (all medically necessary services provided by
hospitals and doctors must be insured); universality (all insured persons in the province
or territory must be entitled to public health insurance coverage on uniform terms and
conditions); portability (coverage for insured services must be maintained when an
insured person moves or travels within Canada or travels outside the country); and
accessibility (reasonable access by insured persons to medically necessary hospital and
physician services must be unimpeded by financial or other barriers).
Under the Canada Health Act, provinces and territories must not permit user charges for
insured health services, except as provided for under subsection 19(2) respecting persons
who require chronic care and are more or less permanently resident in a hospital or other
institution. If it has been determined that either extra-billing or user charges, or both
exist in a province or territory, then a mandatory dollar-for-dollar deduction is to be made
from the federal cash contribution (CHST). Health Canada’s approach to resolving
possible non-compliance issues emphasizes transparency, consultation and dialogue. In
most instances, issues are resolved through consultation and discussion based on a
thorough examination of the facts. Penalties are only applied when other means of
resolving issues have failed.
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There is a strong working relationship between the Government of Canada and provincial
and territorial governments. The health sector has a well-developed and long-standing
intergovernmental structure. Federal-provincial/territorial Ministers of Health meet at a
minimum on an annual basis, while Deputy Ministers meet semi-annually and on an asneeded basis throughout the year.
The 1999 Budget strengthened the Canadian Government’s resolve to uphold the
principles of the Canada Health Act by increasing transfer payments, promoting research,
improving health information and enhancing services for vulnerable populations such as
those in First Nations and Inuit communities.
The premise of a universal health insurance scheme is that all citizens will have access to
the care they need within reasonable time periods. Through the National Population
Health Survey both the federal and provincial/territorial levels of government are
monitoring “unmet health care needs.” The incidence of unmet needs in 1996-1997 was
5 percent of the population age 12 and older (non-significant increase from 1994-1995,
when 4 percent of the population reported unmet needs). There was little systematic
variation in the incidence of unmet needs related to sex or age. This information is made
available to the public in the Second Report on the Health of Canadians, prepared by the
Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health.
The Canadian Federal government has a significant role in the delivery of health services
to First Nations and Inuit communities, and these investments in First Nations health care
complement developments in the larger health system. In 1997, the federal government
announced “Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan,” a commitment to
setting a new course in its policies for Aboriginal people. The federal government is
following through on these commitments with new investments and initiatives in health
services for Aboriginal populations. The 1999 budget announced substantial and
sustained investments of $190 million over three years to improve the health of First
Nations and Inuit as part of the health renewal system. These investments promote an
integrated health system providing a more complete continuum of necessary care for First
Nations and Inuit communities.
Health care expenditures
In 1998, gross domestic product (GDP) reached $30,249 per capita. Total health
expenditures were $83.6 billion in 1998, representing 9.1 percent of GDP, down from the
peak level 10 percent in 1992. Total health expenditures reached $89.8 billion in 1999
and $97.4 billion in 2000.
On a per capita basis, the health expenditure was $2,765 in 1998 — a 5.5 percent increase
from 1997, or $145 per capita. Per capita spending on health continued to increase by
6.4 percent in 1999 and 7.5 percent in 2000. These expenditures were equivalent to
9.1 percent of GDP in 1998, and remained stable at 9.2 percent in 1999 and 9.1 percent in
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In 1990, just over 25 percent of health care in Canada was financed with private funds
(out-of-pocket, health insurance), while the rest was paid for with public funds. By 1999,
the private share had increased to almost 30 percent. Most of the increase occurred over
the first half of the 1990s, largely under the influence of cost-control efforts with respect
to publicly financed health care.
Health expenditures by governments and government agencies (the public sector) in 1998
were estimated at $58.8 billion, equivalent to $1,946 per capita. This accounted for
70.1 percent of total health care spending, and was an increase of 5.9 percent compared to
1997. Private sector spending by households and insurance firms in 1998 totaled
$25.1 million (or $830 per capita). The private sector accounted for an estimated
29.5 percent of total expenditures in 1999, down from 29.9 percent in 1998. This
decrease is expected to continue in 2000.
Historically, the largest category of health care spending in Canada has been and still is
hospital care, although its share has been gradually falling for at least two and a half
decades. In 1999, hospital care accounted for about one-third of total health care
spending — a sizable drop compared with a share of nearly 50 percent in the mid-1970s.
In 1999, drugs and physician services accounted for close to another one-third of total
health care spending, with roughly equal shares. Most of the remaining one-third was on
other institutions, other professionals, and public health.
Mental health of Canadians
The Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Network on Mental Health was created as an
intergovernmental forum devoted exclusively to mental health issues. It provides a
crucial link between jurisdictions enhancing the capacity of the federal and
provincial/territorial governments to work together for the mental health of all Canadians.
For detailed information on the physical and mental health of Canada’s population,
please refer to Toward a Health Future — The Second Report on the Health of
Canadians (1999) and The Statistical Report on the Health of Canadians available on the
Web site of Health Canada (
Infant mortality rate
The Canadian infant mortality rate has declined from 6.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in
1994 to 5.3 in 1998. This is due to a decline in both neonatal deaths and post-neonatal
deaths. The single most important cause of both infant mortality and perinatal death was
perinatal complications. The two leading causes of post-neonatal deaths were Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome and congenital anomalies. There are substantial variations in
infant mortality rates among the Canadian provinces and territories, with higher rates
found in northern areas and areas with a larger percentage of Aboriginal residents. In
some Aboriginal populations, infant mortality rates are two times higher than the national
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Access to safe water and adequate excreta-disposal facilities
Governments, industry, communities and individual Canadians are making significant
progress in achieving clean, safe and secure water. A key component to achieving these
objectives is through strengthening collaboration between federal and provincial and
territorial governments to establish priorities and plans for action to better protect
Canada’s water resources. Federal departments work closely to ensure a fully integrated
approach to addressing freshwater priorities.
The majority of the population has safe drinking water services and adequate disposal
facilities. Eighty-seven percent of Canadians receive treated municipal drinking water.
Aboriginal populations lack plumbing in a higher proportion. Canada is aware of
problems associated with potable water on Indian reserves, and notes the Committee’s
concerns in this regard. Ensuring a supply of clean, safe drinking water in First Nations
communities is a priority for the Government of Canada. The Department of Indian and
Northern Affairs is continuing its efforts to assist First Nations in establishing basic water
and sewage services for approximately 5,000 homes currently without these services, in a
number of mostly northern communities.
The Government of Canada is undertaking on-site assessments of all community water
and sewage treatment systems located in First Nations communities. Plans to undertake
corrective measures will be developed in collaboration with First Nations and other
partners as problems are identified. A national First Nations Water Management Strategy
is being developed which will improve drinking water systems in First Nations
communities, including the training of all plant operators, adequate operation and
maintenance of the facilities, adoption of appropriate water standards and monitoring
procedures, and enhancement of public awareness about drinking water safety.
Canada has one of the lowest incidences of waterborne diseases in the world. The
incidence of waterborne diseases is several times higher in First Nations communities,
than in the general population, in part because of the inadequate or non-existent water
treatment systems. The Assembly of First Nations in partnership with Health Canada, is
taking steps to improve this situation.
Government of Canada established the National Soil and Water Conservation Program
(NSWCP) during 1997-1999. It was implemented nationally by industry-led
provincial/regional adaptation councils to help address priority agriculture and agri-food
sector environmental sustainability issues, including ground and surface water quality,
water quantity, environmental management systems, soil management, endangered
species habitat, on-farm storage of pesticide and other farm inputs. This program has
been redesigned and extended under the new environmental stewardship and the renewed
adaptation programs. Other strategies have been developed and are described in the
Canada’s Second Progress Report to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations Committee on World Food Security on Implementing the World Food Summit
Plan of Action (
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Infant immunization
In Canada, rates of immunization coverage have remained high throughout the 1990s.
Estimates suggest, however, that immunization rates are lower for Aboriginal children in
most provinces. Detailed information is shown in the Statistical Annex.
Life expectancy
Canada ranks in the top three developed countries in the world in measures of life
expectancy, self-rated health and mortality rates. In 1997, Canadians of age 14 or
younger made up 20 percent of the population, and 12 percent of the population was age
65 and older. In Canada, life expectancy at birth was 82.1 years for women and
76.3 years for men in 2000. At all ages, women have a greater life expectancy than men,
yet the 5.6 year advantage that existed at birth declined to 2.6 years by age 75.
The health regions with the lowest life expectancies tend to be in remote regions or
northern parts of certain provinces and have significant Aboriginal populations.
In Aboriginal populations, in 1995 life expectancy at birth for men was seven years less
than the national average, and five years less for women. This gap between the life
expectancy of Aboriginal populations and the national average has narrowed over time
but is still appreciable.
Health-vulnerable groups
First Nations and Inuit populations
Health Canada, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, ensures access to
quality health services and programs that address health inequalities and disease threats,
in a manner that supports First Nations and Inuit autonomy and control. Health Canada
provides public health services on reserve, as well as primary care and emergency
services in isolated reserves where provincial services are not readily available. In the
North, Health Canada provides funding to the territorial governments, except the Yukon,
to deliver health programs for First Nations and Inuit on behalf of Health Canada. In the
Yukon, some First Nations deliver health programs under self-government agreements,
while programs for the remaining First Nations continue to be managed by Health
The National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) represents a network
of 53 treatment centres and 500 community-based prevention programs operated by First
Nations organizations and/or communities to provide culturally appropriate in-patient and
out-patient treatment services for alcohol and other substance abuse. Twenty-eight
million dollars per year is allocated for residential treatment and $30 million per year is
allocated for the community-based component.
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The solvent abuse program provides culturally appropriate community-based prevention,
intervention and inpatient treatment services to First Nations and Inuit youth solvent
abusers. A national network of nine solvent addictions treatment centres target youth
aged 12 to 19 years with one treatment centre targeting youth aged 16 to 25 years.
Intervention and Prevention funding is $6 million annually, and treatment funding is
$13 million annually.
Aboriginal Head Start is an early intervention strategy addressing the needs of Aboriginal
children and their families. Funding for the Aboriginal Head Start On Reserve program
was set at $100 million over four years, beginning in 1998-1999, and $25 million per
year on-going. The program was introduced in 1995 in urban and northern communities.
The program was expanded in 1998 to First Nations communities on reserve. There are
currently over 300 projects on reserve serving 7,700 children.
A range of research initiatives focussing on Aboriginal health is being funded through the
Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health at the University of Toronto as part of the larger
Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
First Nations and Inuit organizations have also developed and fielded a Regional Health
Survey which has provided detailed health information on Aboriginal people on reserve
and in the north. A second survey is currently being discussed.
The First Nation and Inuit Home and Community Care program was announced in the
1999 Budget. With the announcement commenced a three-year developmental period for
First Nation and Inuit communities to carry out planning activities to enable access of
home and community services by the majority of First Nation and Inuit communities.
Prior to the release of funding, extensive consultation with First Nation and Inuit
communities, provincial and territorial authorities was carried out to: support the
development of services that were strongly linked with existing health care services; and
build on existing investments made through both the Department of Indian and Northern
Affairs in-home adult care program and the Building Healthy Communities — Home
Nursing investment. The home and community care program is comprised of a set of
common program elements which includes: client assessment, case management and
coordination, access to personal care, nursing services, in-home respite care, medical
supplies and equipment and strong linkages with other health and social services,
including the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative.
Numerous planning and training resources were developed for this developmental period.
Many of these planning resources were based on lessons learned and experienced by the
First Nation and Inuit home care pilot projects which were funded by the Health
Transition Fund. During the initial developmental period, a significant investment was
made in both training and capital to support the delivery of this program. At the time of
this report less than 5 percent of the 700 eligible communities are not actively engaged in
either program planning or service delivery, with 33 percent of these communities
accessing home and community care services.
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Women’s health
Funded by Health Canada’s Women’s Health Contribution Program, the National
Coordinating Group on Health Care Reform and Women examines the impact of health
care reform on women as patients, providers (paid and unpaid) and decision makers.
They synthesize research on health reform and women, identify gaps in research, develop
strategies to fill those gaps and link research to policy through various means. The
Coordinating Group is examining issues related to privatization, primary health care and
community caregiving.
The Women’s Health Strategy, which was launched by the Minister of Health in
March 1999, conforms with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women, and with the principles of the Beijing Platform for Action
and the Federal Plan for Gender Equality. The overarching goal of the Women’s Health
Strategy is to improve the health of women in Canada by making the health system more
responsive to women and women’s health. It promises that Health Canada will integrate
gender into all its programs and policies by conducting gender-based analysis. The
Women’s Health Bureau leads the on-going development of the strategy and co-ordinates
its implementation.
Information related to the Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health Program,
established in 1996, was provided in Canada’s Third Report. The five centres, located in
Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, are managed by the Women’s
Health Bureau and will each receive approximately $2 million over a six-year period.
Funded by the Women’s Health Contribution Program, Health Canada, the Health
Protection and Women Working Group is actively involved in consultations to identify
ways for gender to be taken into account in health protection issues. Health Canada
convened an Advisory Committee on Women’s Health Surveillance Issues, which
included external experts in women’s health. The Committee will advise the department
on issues to be addressed in creating a national health surveillance system for women’s
health, including priority surveillance issues, quality and availability of data, data
analysis and dissemination.
In infancy and childhood, girls use fewer health services than boys. But once beyond
childhood, Canadian women make greater use of a wide array of health services.
Changes in the health system will, therefore, have a significant impact on women. The
Women’s Health Strategy commits Health Canada to monitoring the effects of the
process of health system renewal on women, both as users and as providers of care and to
consider the particular needs of women in interpreting and enforcing the Canada Health
Act. The Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health are active in documenting and
researching the impact of health renewal on women and the significance to women of
access to pharmaceuticals and home care.
The Women’s Health Bureau of Health Canada chairs the Federal Interdepartmental
Working Group on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Its purpose is to inform and
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educate, prevent the practice from being performed in Canada, and address health-related,
legal and cultural/social issues. The government is also currently working with health
care providers and educators to provide effective and sensitive responses to girls and
women affected by FGM.
In June 1998, Health Canada allocated $7 million ongoing funding per year towards the
renewed Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative (CBCI) for research, prevention, early
detection, quality screening, support to community groups and networks, access to
information, public and professional education, diagnosis, care and treatment, and
surveillance and monitoring of breast cancer. The Medical Research Council of Canada
(now the Canadian Institutes of Health Research) will contribute an additional
$10 million over the next five years to the CBCI. (Refer to the section on Breast Cancer
below for more information.)
Health Canada contributes $2 million per year to the Canadian Heart Health Initiative
(1998-2003). Approximately $300,000 per year from this Initiative is allocated to
projects that specifically target women’s heart health issues, including integrated action
on nutrition, physical activity, tobacco reduction and psycho-social factors.
The Women’s Health Bureau and the Women and Tobacco Advisory Group have
sponsored a policy paper “Filtered Policy,” which recommends policy initiatives to
address women’s tobacco use, based on information gathered in the Tobacco Demand
Reduction Strategy and other national and international literature on women’s tobacco
In September 1996, Health Canada adopted Canada’s women and clinical trials policy
which stipulates that drug companies also include women in clinical trials, in the same
proportion as are expected to use the drug.
As well, Health Canada released the Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care:
National Guidelines, which were developed to assist hospitals and other health care
agencies in planning, implementing, and evaluating maternal and newborn programs and
services. The Guidelines are designed for policy makers, health care providers
(e.g. physicians, nurses, midwives), parents, program planners, and administrators.
Statistics show that the maternal mortality ratio for Canada has declined significantly.
For the period 1993-1997, there were 4.4 maternal deaths per 100,00 live births,
compared to 8.2 deaths per 100,000 live births for the period 1973-1977.
In September 1999, the Policy Research Fund of Status of Women Canada, under the
theme “Where Have All the Women Gone? Changing Shifts In Policy Discourses,”
produced papers such as Mothering Under Duress: Policy Discourses in the Context of
Women Abuse, Illicit Substance Use and Mental Illness and Gender Equality Promotion
Strategies for Regional Planning, in the Context of Health Reform.
Children’s health
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Canada develops policies and programs to promote the health of children and their
families through the preconception, prenatal, postpartum, and infancy periods.
Comprehensive strategies include research, monitoring and surveillance, education,
resource development and dissemination, consensus-building, and inter-sectoral
collaboration. Through the development of policy statements, professional guidelines,
and public awareness campaigns, professionals and the public are provided with
information to help address and enhance healthy child development. For example, the
decline in the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in Canada in the mid-1990s
coincides with the identification of modifiable risk factors for both parents and children
and public education on these factors.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada work cooperatively to ensure
that all Canadian children have the best opportunity to develop to their potential and are
healthy emotionally and physically. Information on areas of cooperation, such as the
National Child Benefit and the National Children’s Agenda, is provided in the
Introduction to this report.
Given the importance of health and social investments during the early years of life, the
Government of Canada has introduced and enhanced a number of innovative initiatives to
help Canadian children develop to their full potential. Federal programs such as the
Community Action Program for Children (CAPC), the Aboriginal Head Start Program
(AHS), and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) recognize the importance of
early childhood development, parental involvement and education, cross-sectoral
approaches for children’s well-being, and partnerships with other governments, nongovernmental agencies, and communities. These community-based programs reach over
150,000 Canadian children and parents in over 3,000 communities each year.
The Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) provides long term funding to
community groups to establish and deliver services to improve the health and
development of children from birth to age six who live in conditions of risk, including
children living in low-income families. CAPC projects provide parents with the support,
information, and skills they need to raise their children through services such as family
resource centres, parent education, home visiting, play groups and community kitchens.
Results indicate that CAPC projects are successfully reaching their at-risk target group,
as 42 percent of CAPC households have incomes of less than $15,000 and 38 percent of
CAPC mothers had not finished high school. For additional details on the Aboriginal
Head Start and Canada Prenatal Nutrition Programs, see Article 11.
The Government has developed a National Strategy on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal
Alcohol Effects (FAS/FAE), issuing a joint statement on the prevention of FAS/FAE in
1996, funding provincial/territorial programs for treatment and rehabilitation through the
Alcohol and Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation (ADTR) Program and the Native
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program (NNADAPP), and announcing in 1999
additional funding for the enhancement of activities related to FAS/FAE.
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Through population-based surveys such as the World Health Organization collaborative
Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children Study, National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth, and monitoring and surveillance activities such as Canadian
Perinatal Surveillance Program and the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and
Prevention Program, Canada has built an evidence base that can be used for reporting,
decision-making, policy and program development.
Health of seniors
The responsibility for policies and programs to address the needs of seniors (65+) is
shared between the federal and provincial/territorial levels of government. Each
government has appointed a Minister Responsible for Seniors to ensure appropriate
representation of seniors’ issues in the formulation of government policies.
The Government of Canada works to provide leadership in areas pertaining to aging and
seniors through the provision of advice and support to policy development; by conducting
and supporting research; and providing information/education to seniors, seniors
organizations and people who work with seniors in Canada.
Research co-ordination is facilitated by the Policy Research Initiative, a secretariat
attached to the Cabinet office, which has identified population aging as a priority.
Among other activities, the secretariat supports periodic meetings of senior researchers
working on aging from across the federal government.
A federal government interdepartmental committee on seniors issues was formed in 1994
to facilitate responding to the needs of seniors and an aging population. In 1998,
interdepartmental working groups began reviewing potential issues, knowledge gaps and
possible actions related to population aging. A diagnostic based on this work and on the
findings of researchers from within and outside the government was subsequently
presented to senior officials from key departments. The diagnostic will help guide future
policy work to respond to aging.
The National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA), created in 1980, continues to assist
and advise the Minister of Health on all matters related to the aging of the Canadian
population and the quality of life of seniors. Most recently, NACA published 1999 and
Beyond: Challenges of an Aging Canadian Society, which examines and provides advice
on the challenges population aging presents in a range of areas, including health, the
labour force and the financial security of future seniors.
The health and disability-free life expectancy of successive cohorts of seniors has been
improving, indicating that further gains in health and reduced burdens on the health care
system are achievable through strategic population health and health promotion policy
Because of their health conditions, seniors (65+) make greater use of all health services
than younger Canadians, including acute care, drug care, home care and institutional
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long-term care. This is especially true for older seniors (75+). Improvements in health
status, medical technologies and the expansion of home and community care have
resulted in some decline in rates and duration of hospital stays and in rates of long-term
The National Forum on Health was launched in 1994 to consult with Canadians and
advise government on innovative ways to improve the health of Canadians. The Forum’s
publications include a volume on seniors’ determinants of health. The National Forum
on Health has completed its work and has presented its report to the Prime Minister of
Canada. As a result, the Forum officially ended its operations in June 1997 ( Through the Health Transition Fund,
several provinces are documenting innovative service models designed to improve the
quality and cost-effectiveness of health services for an older population in the areas of
home care, pharmacare and integrated service delivery.
Recognizing the vulnerability of seniors to preventable injuries, the Government (led by
Health Canada and Veterans Affairs) is planning a four-year pilot initiative to fund
community-based projects that will design and assess the effectiveness of injury
prevention interventions.
“New Horizons: Partners in Aging” was a Health Canada community funding program
that provided financial support for innovative demonstration projects involving seniors at
the grassroots level, including many projects relevant to senior women. The Seniors’
Independence Research Program is an extramural research program designed to
strengthen national research with a balanced emphasis on social, economic and health
determinants for seniors. This Program has a major focus on dementia (including
Alzheimer's Disease) and osteoporosis. These two programs were completed in 1997.
In 1997, Health Canada adopted a population health approach and created National
Population Health Fund. This approach promotes prevention and encourages positive
action on the determinants that affect the health of the population, or that of specific
population groups such as children, youth, mid-life and later life. The Population Health
Fund has an annual budget of $14 million and its goal is to increase community capacity
for action on the determinants of health.
Government-funded research carried-out by academics, often located in specialized
centres focussing on aging issues, also informs the policy-making process. Examples
SEDAP (Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population) is an ongoing
four-year multi-disciplinary research program, funded in 1999 and involving more
than 28 academics from five Canadian universities. The overall purpose of the
program is to provide a comprehensive, scholarly investigation of issues related to
population aging. An important element is communicating results to the academic
research community, policy makers and the public at large,
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The longitudinal Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) which collected data
in 1991 and 1996, focussed on the epidemiology of dementia. The study has
provided estimates of prevalence, incidence and risk factors for dementia, and the
burden it places on family caregivers. The CSHA has also described patterns of
disability, frailty and health aging.
Rural health
Health Canada created an Executive Director position for Rural Health in 1998 in
response to the federal government’s commitment that federal departments and agencies
consider the impact on rural Canada when they formulate and implement policies,
programs and services for Canadians. An Office of Rural Health will be established later
to provide support to a two-year, $11 million contributions program for 2000-2001 and
2000-2002 to fund projects that promote better access to needed services to rural
Canadians. Improving access to health care at reasonable cost was recognized among the
11 policy priorities areas for government under the Canadian Rural Partnership
Framework. More specifically, the objectives of the funding program will be to promote
the integration and accessibility of the full range of health services, including primary
care and specialty care; explore ways to address workforce issues, including but not
limited to gaps in the supply of health professionals; and explore system reforms to
improve the delivery of health services in rural and remote areas. During its mandate, the
Office of Rural Health will provide a national perspective on rural health concerns in
relation to broad federal, departmental and regional priorities. It will identify and build
consensus on current and emerging rural health issues, areas of shared concern as well as
potential gaps and opportunities; establish partnerships and/or liaise with major
stakeholders to promote, encourage, or influence action on national rural health priorities;
and promote the involvement of rural citizens, care providers, and communities in federal
decision-making about rural health concerns.
Community information and involvement
The Government makes health information easily available through the Canadian Health
Network, which enables all Canadians to have direct access to health information through
the Internet (
Through community-based programs, operation of national information clearinghouses,
and by developing information, education, and prevention resources, the Government
informs the public about issues of concern, promotes healthy lifestyle choices that
contribute to long-term health (e.g. good nutrition, active living, non-smoking), promotes
parenting skills, and increases parental, public, and professional awareness of healthy
child and youth development as well as issues related to ensuring healthy, safe, and
supportive environments.
There are also various working groups and consultative mechanisms through which civil
society is consulted and involved in health care programming and policy development.
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Such dialogue is seen as a valuable means of engaging and working cooperatively with
Canadians and community-based organisations across the country.
Through the Population Health Fund, Canada supports communities and organizations in
defining and developing solutions to community-identified problems, and fosters
community change.
Specific health issues
Injury prevention
Canada has in place many activities that address injury prevention through research,
surveillance, legislation, and programming. The Government has been a catalyst in the
promotion of comprehensive, multi-sectoral action that addresses injury prevention at
local, regional, provincial, territorial, and national levels. Canada will continue to strive
for a coordinated and comprehensive approach to this major public health problem. A
large multi-disciplinary group of stakeholders continues to work towards a national
strategy for injury prevention and control in Canada.
The new Canadian Strategy on HIV/AIDS was launched by the Minister of Health in
May 1998, committing $42.2 million annually to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The
Canadian HIV/AIDS Strategy grew out of extensive consultations with volunteer and
community groups, First Nations and Inuit organisations, researchers, the private sector,
professional associations, health and social care providers and governments — and most
importantly, with individual Canadians living with HIV/AIDS.
The Strategy has ten components: prevention; community development and support to
national non-governmental organisations (NGOs); care, treatment and support; research;
surveillance; international collaboration; legal, ethical and human rights; Aboriginal
health and community development; correctional services; and consultation, evaluation,
monitoring and reporting. These components are used to guide and support programming
and policy development in response to HIV/AIDS. The international collaboration
component focuses on improving the capacity of Canadians to act globally against the
HIV/AIDS epidemic; expanding information sharing and knowledge in Canada
concerning the global context of HIV/AIDS, and assisting in the coordination of
Canadian government and community involvement in the international response to
HIV/AIDS. Several important initiatives in the area of sexual orientation have occurred
over the last decade beginning with an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act in
the early 1990s, and culminating in the Reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on the
definition of marriage. These initiatives have resulted in Canada being at the forefront of
the advanced industrialized states in terms of formal equality rights for gays and lesbians.
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The Canadian Diabetes Strategy is a collaborative effort to develop the measures needed
to prevent, control and combat diabetes in a coordinated way. The Strategy’s purpose is
to raise Canadians’ awareness of how they can prevent diabetes and its complications;
and support improved monitoring of diabetes in the population, with an eye to improving
the planning and evaluation of future diabetes reduction strategies.
Throughout 1998, consultations on diabetes were held with First Nations, Métis, Inuit
and urban Aboriginal people to determine what would be needed to create a
comprehensive Aboriginal Diabetes Strategy. Several working groups were formed, and
a national committee created. A report was prepared, which formed the basis of the
present Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (ADI). Work was done to determine the incidence
and prevalence of diabetes, mostly in Manitoba, and focussing primarily on First Nations.
In February 1999, the budget announced the creation of a Canadian Diabetes Prevention
and Control Strategy, funded at $55 million over three years. However, during the next
several months, the strategy evolved to the “Canadian Diabetes Strategy” (CDS), with
funding of $115 million over five years. The CDS has four major components: the
Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (ADI), the National Diabetes Surveillance System (NDSS),
Prevention and Promotion, and National Coordination. The ADI was granted $58 million
over five years (or just over half the funding). The NDSS and National Coordination
components also address Aboriginal issues.
The Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative was announced in 1999-2000 as a major component of
the Canadian Diabetes Strategy. The $2 million in funding allocated to the program in
1999-2000 was spent on implementation planning. Implementation planning meetings
were held in all eight First Nations and Inuit Health Branch regions as well as by
National Aboriginal organizations (Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami,
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Métis National Council and the National Aboriginal
Diabetes Association). These meetings involved First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban
Aboriginal stakeholders at the community, regional/territorial and national level. In
addition, bridge funding was provided to 12 existing diabetes pilot projects which had
previously been funded through the National Health and Research Development Program
Cardiovascular disease
The Canadian Heart Health Initiative (CHHI) was launched in 1986 as a collaborative
effort of the federal and provincial governments and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of
Canada. The CHHI focussed on building capacity in the public health system, delivering
heart health interventions at the community level, and developing partnerships. In the
long term, the goals of the CHHI were to reduce premature morbidity and mortality from
heart diseases, and to reduce the prevalence of modifiable risk factors (e.g. smoking,
sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure), and risk conditions (e.g. social inequities, lack
of access to nutritious foods).
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The Initiative has completed four phases — policy development, risk factor surveys,
demonstration projects, and evaluation — and currently has a dissemination phase in
progress. The Canadian Heart Health Dissemination Project (ChhDP) is a five-year
research project to advance our understanding of dissemination research and capacity
building in order to deliver more effective heart health promotion in Canada. The ChhDP
will focus on a synthesis of the learnings from each provincial Dissemination Project of
the CHHI with a view to informing the field of dissemination and capacity research and
policy development related to CVD prevention and chronic disease prevention more
broadly. The project aims to provide information of value to public health policy makers,
while building a foundation for the next generation of research studies that will inform
the evolving policy agenda related to chronic disease prevention.
The dissemination phase is being implemented at a time of significant environmental
shifts in Canada, particularly in primary care and public health. CHHI continues to
evolve both within and parallel to this changing environment. A Situational Analysis of
CHHI has been undertaken. The analysis examines and presents possible uses of CHHI
assets within the current environment. Learnings from CHHI have already helped to
guide the development of an integrated approach to chronic disease and its risk factors.
The concept of “heart health” has been expanded to include other chronics diseases such
as diabetes and cancer.
The experience with this initiative among others has also led to the creation of the
Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC). The mission of CDPAC is to
“foster a countrywide movement towards an integrated population health approach for
prevention of chronic diseases through collaborative leadership, advocacy and capacity
building.” The significant knowledge gleaned through the CHHI experience has
contributed greatly to the rapid and growing momentum around this countrywide
movement (
Breast cancer
The Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative (CBCI) was renewed for a second five-year phase
in 1998 for five years and then ongoing at $7 million per year. The renewed CBCI was
the result of extensive consultations with breast cancer partners and stakeholders. It is
active in several areas including: prevention and quality screening; surveillance and
monitoring; quality approaches to diagnosis, treatment and care; community capacity
building; coordination and evaluation; and research. The Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (previously called the Medical Research Council of Canada) is contributing an
additional $10 million from 1998 to 2003 for breast cancer research.
Cancer control
Key cancer stakeholders — the federal government, provincial cancer agencies/programs
and non-governmental cancer organizations — began planning the Canadian Strategy for
Cancer Control in 1999. Over 800 experts/survivors/care providers/health service
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administrators began examining key issues and issuing recommendations across the
cancer control continuum in the following areas: Prevention, Screening, Diagnosis,
Treatment, Supportive Care, Palliative Care, Genetics, Pediatric Cancer, Human
Resources, Research, Informatics and Technology. The recommendations has formed the
basis for prioritisation for a national cancer control strategy ( that
would involve all sectors of health and health care in Canada.
Tobacco control
Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable illness, disability and premature
death in Canada. During the period covered by this report, it was estimated that the
deaths of about 45,000 Canadians each year were attributable to the use of tobacco
products, even though the national average smoking prevalence rate (daily + occasional
use, age 15+) had been reduced by about half, from over 50 percent in the mid-1960s to
about 25 percent by 1999. Addiction to tobacco was estimated in 1991 to cost Canadian
society as a whole about $15 billion annually, including medical costs, foregone income
to households and lost productivity. Direct medicare costs attributable to tobacco use
were estimated to be about $3.5 billion annually.
Canada has implemented a series of country-wide strategies aimed at reducing tobacco
use by reducing demand for tobacco products. Under various names — National Strategy
to Reduce Tobacco Use (1986-1993), Tobacco Demand Reduction Strategy (1994-1997),
Tobacco Control Initiative, Phase I (1998-1999) and National Tobacco Control Strategy
(1999) — Canada has funded (and continues to fund) comprehensive efforts designed to
address the tobacco problem. All such strategies have aimed to reduce harm by
promoting prevention of the uptake of smoking by youth, cessation from smoking by
youth and adults and protection of non-smokers from involuntary exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. Canada’s tobacco control programmes are complemented by a
policy of taxation of tobacco products, which aims to discourage tobacco consumption
while minimizing contraband.
Canada’s tobacco reduction efforts include measures aimed at reaching and engaging
with Aboriginal communities. There are higher smoking rates within Aboriginal
communities; in some cases, smoking prevalence rates are thought to be about two or
three times the national average. There are and unique needs and requirements among
Canada’s Aboriginal peoples: First Nations, Métis and Inuit. In many Aboriginal
communities, commercial tobacco use often overlays a long tradition of ceremonial
tobacco use. A strategy, First Nations & Inuit Strategy, is in the developmental stages,
and will be launched in 2001, in conjunction with First Nations and Inuit partnership
using collaborative, community-based mechanisms.
Canada’s tobacco reduction strategies operate within the framework of a federal system
and therefore involve commitments to take action on the part of both the federal and
provincial/territorial governments. A collaborative mechanism exists in the form of a
working or liaison group that reports to the F/P/T Advisory Committee on Population
Health (ACPH).
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Canada is a strong supporter of the development of The Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control (FCTC). Canada hosted the first (Halifax, 1997) and second
(Vancouver, 1998) WHO preparatory meetings of public health and legal experts on the
development of the Convention and provided developmental funding for the initiative
during this period.
First Nations Inuit Health Branch delivers a $3.8 million tuberculosis program to the First
Nations population living on reserve. The program was implemented due to the much
higher burden of TB experienced by First Nations population, and it has as its primary
goal the elimination of the disease. Funding of Regional programs and program
evaluation are national-level responsibilities, while case management and registry, and
control of drug supply are regional program responsibilities. This centralized direction
supports a decentralized implementation through primary health services at the
community level, where early case finding and prevention are the main focus.
Communicable disease control in First Nations, on-reserve and Inuit communities is a
responsibility of First Nations Inuit Health Branch and its First Nations and Inuit
partners. Immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases included in provincial
schedules, outbreak management, water quality testing, and preventive education are all
activities First Nations Inuit Health Branch engages in routinely. Funding for these
activities is decentralized to the Regional and community levels, as part of regular
community health programming.
Prevention and control of influenza
Several efforts are underway to prevent and control influenza pandemics in Canada,
Stand-by vaccine capacity: Vaccines are the first line of defence. Annual use of
vaccines has increased across Canada. Many orders of government rely on annual
immunization campaigns as a tool to prepare for pandemic capacity. Other options
and strategies such as antiviral drugs are being explored.
Contingency and emergency plans: All orders of government are developing
contingency plans that will be integrated and harmonized across the country. The
Pan-Canadian Contingency Plan for Pandemic Influenza forms a guide for orders of
government to employ; federal emergency plans will be developed and tailored to
address pandemic influenza.
Surveillance: Enhanced international surveillance sentinel systems will provide an
early warning system enabling Canada time to react; domestic surveillance systems
will also be enhanced.
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Communications frameworks: Federal communications frameworks, tool kits and
Web communication channels will provide a resource to all orders of governments;
Clinical and health services: Guidelines are being developed to address critical
aspects of an influenza pandemic;
Simulation Exercise: Health Canada undertakes various simulation exercises/mock
emergency programs to test critical elements such as reporting/governance
frameworks, communication, emergency and health care/service response in
preparation for different health emergencies, including influenza, as well as nuclear,
biological and chemical terrorism, nuclear emergencies, etc.
Best practices: On an annual basis, best practices in flu management will be identified
and developed, building on recommendations provided by the National Advisory
Committee on Immunization.
Environmental health
The physical environment is a crucial health factor. In Canada, environmental quality is
generally quite good. However the dangers and problems associated with the physical
environment affect some groups more than others.
Health Canada is a partner in the federal Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Action Plans and
their corresponding Canada-Ontario and Canada-Québec Agreements coordinating
federal and provincial actions to clean up and protect these ecosystems. The health
objectives are to assess and reduce population exposures to selected chemical and
biological contamination from Great Lakes and St. Lawrence waters. Activities span
research, surveillance, assessment, information and health promotion/awareness related
to exposure to environmental chemicals such as PCBs in newborn infants, and in fish and
wildlife eaters; to health risks associated with consumption of molluscs, shellfish and
marine algae; to health risks associated with recreational activities involving contact with
water; and with consumption of drinking water. The health programs contribute to
regional, national and international policy development related to managing the health
risks and controlling the widespread circulation of persistent organic pollutants, metals
and other pollutants.
In 1998, a campaign, which is expected to last for five years, against contaminants in the
North received an additional amount of $6 million a year. Activities will focus on human
health risk assessment, results-based research, a continuous flow of health-related
observations to Northern residents and a campaign for international commitments to
reduce contaminant use and discharge. This program has established new standards for
participants in the area of scientific work conducted by Aboriginal partners, institutions
and communities.
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International cooperation
CIDA’s “Strategy for Health” outlines six objectives for Canada’s development
cooperation in the field of health: 1) to promote the development of sustainable national
health systems; 2) to improve women’s health and reproductive health; 3) to improve
children’s health; 4) to decrease malnutrition and eliminate micronutrient deficiencies;
5) to help prevent and control important and emerging pandemics which cause more than
one million deaths per year and for which cost-effective interventions exist; 6) to support
efforts to introduce appropriate technologies and special initiatives.
Health Canada’s International Affairs Directorate (IAD) initiates, coordinates and
monitors the Department’s health policies, strategies and activities in the international
field. The International Health Division (IHD) of IAD is responsible for policy analysis
on international health issues as well as coordinating federal involvement and input into
the activities and policies of international organisations such as the Pan-American Health
Organisation (PAHO), World Health Organisation (WHO), the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Commonwealth and
organisational bodies of the United Nation’s such as the Joint United Nations Programme
on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). On these matters, Health Canada works closely with CIDA.
CIDA provides funding for these organizations and contributes to development
programming through these multilateral programs.
Article 13: Right to Education
As indicated in earlier reports, education falls under provincial jurisdiction in Canada.
However the federal government is responsible for the instruction of children living on
Indian reserves or Crown lands. As well, the Government of Canada continues its
financial support to post-secondary education.
As previously noted, CHST cash and tax transfer help the provinces fund post-secondary
education, as well as health care.
Aboriginal education
The Government of Canada continues to transfer the control of schools on reserve to First
Nations. In 1998, 466 schools were operated by First Nations, compared with 429 in
1996, and 280 in 1988-1989.
Educational reform is one of the main thrusts of Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan.
Canada is making a series of educational reforms to raise the educational levels of
Aboriginal students in accordance with general priorities agreed to with the Education
Committee of the Assembly of First Nations. The long-term objective is to strengthen
First Nations capacities for managing education, improve school retention and graduation
rates, increase job market prospects and improve employability, job opportunities and
work force integration for Aboriginal students.
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The Education Reform program of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs was,
launched in 1998, provides resources to improve the quality of education and academic
achievement in First Nation Schools. In 1998-1999, $10 million was contributed to
200 initiatives in four priority areas: strengthening management and governance capacity,
improving the quality of classroom instruction, increasing parental and community
involvement in education and aiding the school-to-work transition for First Nations
In the 1998-1999 school year, the number of First Nations students on reserve attending
elementary and secondary schools was 110,687. Approximately 80 percent of First
Nations school age children are enrolled in grade school, and 60 percent of these students
attended band-managed schools on reserve. Of schools reporting on the level of
Aboriginal language instruction, 70 percent of the student population received some such
instruction, and 6 percent received 76 percent or more of their instruction in their
Aboriginal language.12
The First Nations SchoolNet Program of Industry Canada provides multilingual on-line
learning resources for Aboriginal people and First Nations cultures’ enthusiasts.
The Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) continues to apply to all levels of
post-secondary education for Status Indian and Inuit students. Between 1988 and 1999,
the number of Status Indian and Inuit students pursuing a college or university education
increased from 15,572 to more than 27,000. Today, almost 100 percent of all postsecondary funding is administered by First Nations and Inuit organizations who establish
their own priorities for the funding. The program offers students support for tuition,
travel, and living expenses. The total funds allocated to this programme increased from
$147.2 million in 1989-1990 to $261.3 million in 1995-1996 and $282 million in 19981999.
Financial assistance for students in higher education
In 1998, the Government of Canada introduced the Canadian Opportunities Strategy, a
coordinated set of measures to expand access for Canadians to higher education through
programs such as the Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP), the Canada Study Grants,
the Canada Millennium Scholarships initiative, and the Canada Education Savings Grant
Program (CESG).
Canada’s Student Loans Program is administered by the Department of Human
Resources and Development Canada (HRDC). The purpose of CSLP is twofold. First, to
assist Canadians with demonstrated financial need to access and pursue post-secondary
education in universities, community colleges and private vocational schools. Second, to
reduce geographic, socio-economic and other constraints on participation in post-
Aboriginal language instruction is an optional reporting field for Canadian schools. Of the 110,687 students at
issue, schools responsible for only 48,151 of these students responded with information on Aboriginal language
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secondary education. Since its inception in 1964, the CSLP has helped over 3.4 million
full-time students to pursue post-secondary education with more than $15 billion in
subsidized loans.
The CSLP supplements the student’s own resources from employment, academic awards
and family contributions. The program is delivered in partnership with participating
provinces, which are responsible for assessing a student’s financial needs, determining
eligibility, issuing loan certificates and designating eligible institutions. Québec, the
Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not participate in the CSLP and receive
compensation to operate their own student financial assistance plan.
The CSLP is a statutory needs-based program, meaning funds are driven by demand and
not a limited budget. Assistance is provided to eligible students regardless of discipline
of studies. The number of full-time and part-time students assisted has risen from about
270,000 in 1991-1992 to about 354,000 in 1997-1998, a 30 percent increase.
Consequently, over the same period, the value of loan assistance has risen from
$800 million to over $1.6 billion a year, an increase of 100 percent.
CSLP provides a loan of up to 60 percent of a student’s assessed need up to a weekly
limit of $165; provinces decide how and to what extent they will meet the remainder of
the assessed need. To determine a student’s assessed need for the full-time loans
program, the following factors are considered: student category (dependent, independent,
married, single parent); costs (education and living); resources available to student from
spouse, parents and own earnings. After the borrower leaves full-time studies, interest on
the loan begins to accrue. The student must begin repayment on the interest and principal
in the seventh month after leaving school.
Since 1998, to help borrowers repay their loan, students are allowed to claim a 17 percent
federal tax credit on the interest portion of the amount paid on their loan in the current
Borrowers who experience difficulty in repaying, due to low income, may apply for up to
30 months of Interest Relief anytime during the lifetime of the loan. This allows for the
deferral of payments while the federal government pays the interest to the lender.
Students who exhaust 30 months of interest relief will be asked to extend the repayment
period of their loans from 10 to 15 years, thus reducing the monthly payment. If this
reduction is still not sufficient to allow them to repay their loans in good order, Interest
Relief could be extended to 54 months during the five years after their leaving school.
Borrowers who are still experiencing financial difficulties after five years may apply to
have their loan principal reduced through the Debt Reduction in Repayment; the
maximum amount of reduction is $10,000 or 50 percent of the loan, whichever is less.
The Part-time Loans Program is based on the assumption that most part-time students are
working and have their living costs covered. Assistance is therefore provided to help
students cover education costs only. Interest accrues from the date of negotiation and
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interest payment starts after 30 days. The maximum part-time loan a student may have
outstanding at any given time is $4,000.
The federal government offers non-repayable assistance in the form of Canada Study
Grants to students with disabilities (grant maximum of $5,000 per loan year), high-need
part-time students (grant maximum of $1,200 per loan year), female doctoral students
enrolled in certain PhD programs (grant maximum of $3,000 per loan year for up to three
years) and students with dependants (grant maximum of $3,120 per loan year).
As a key part of the strategy, the Government of Canada established the Canada
Millennium Scholarship Foundation in June 1998, as an independent body to manage a
$2.5 billion endowment from the Government of Canada and award some
100,000 Canada Millennium Scholarships annually to post-secondary students across
Canada. This initiative aims to help Canadians gain access to post-secondary education
and participate in today’s knowledge-based economy.
The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) provides an incentive for individuals to
save in Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP). For the first $2,000 saved each year
in an RESP for Canadian children aged 0-17, an additional 20 percent (up to a maximum
of $400 per year) will be contributed by the CESG. The aim is to encourage families to
prepare their children from an early age for the financial, social, and academic aspects of
post-secondary education. Since the inception of the program, the number of RESP
contracts has more than doubled and the number of beneficiaries has been increasing
steadily. By March 2000, 15 percent of Canadian children were beneficiaries of an RESP
and 1.1 million beneficiaries were receiving grants. Savings in RESPs increased from
$2.4 billion in 1997 to $6 billion by the end of 1999, a 150 percent increase in assets.
CESG is delivered in co-operation with the financial services industry and several
Government of Canada departments.
Measures to promote education and literacy
Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) is supporting a number of key postsecondary initiatives of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). In
particular, the Accessibility and Research initiative, builds on The Public Expectations of
Post-Secondary Education Project (initiated in 1998). Through the Accessibility and
Research Project, the CMEC is working with all jurisdictions and key stakeholders to
review barriers to accessibility of post-secondary education and identify ways of
enhancing access to post-secondary education.
CanLearn Interactive Products Group (CIPG) was launched in October 1999. It was
created through a broad-based partnership of all provincial/territorial governments,
25 national learning stakeholder organizations and several private sector corporations.
Through the CanLearn Interactive Web site, CIPG offers a one-stop Internet-based
resource for learning information to support informed decision making and life-long
learning by Canadians ( The site promotes informed decision
making by Canadians in the selection and financing of learning opportunities.
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Individuals are provided with online access to interactive planning tools to help them
explore career possibilities, identify learning requirements, develop learning strategies
and create financial plans to achieve their learning goals.
HRDC’s Office of Learning Technologies (OLT) is working with partners such as
learning institutions, community organizations, business, labour, not-for-profit
associations and governments to expand innovative learning opportunities through the
use of technology. It supports the research, development and demonstration of learning
technologies. OLT’s budget is increasing from $6 million per year in 1997-1998 to reach
over $18 million per year starting in 2001-2002.
The OLT has established funding programs in three key areas:
New Practice in Learning Technologies (NPLT) — The NPLT funds projects that
contribute to the understanding, development and awareness of new effective
practices in using technologies with adult learners, particularly with those who
traditionally face barriers to learning.
Community Learning Networks (CLN) — In partnership with community
organizations, CLN supports pilot projects that develop new models or enhance
existing exemplary models to promote and increase access to learning opportunities
within and across communities through the use of technologies.
Learning Technologies in the Workplace (LTW) — The LTW funds projects that
expand opportunities for learning and skills development in the workplace through
the implementation of technology-enabled learning solutions for workers.
Given the nature, complexity and rapid evolution in fields related to learning
technologies, the OLT must continually strive to remain current on emerging trends,
issues and challenges facing adult learners. OLT works with an Advisory Network of
Experts, consisting of some 70 members from the academic community, private sector,
public sector, and non-government organizations. This Network of Experts provides
information and advice on a broad range of issues related to learning technologies. The
OLT is developing a new funding program that will support research in areas related to
OLT's three key initiatives. OLT also facilitates the sharing of knowledge and
information about learning technologies through its Web site (
The Learning Initiatives Program (formerly the Learning Initiatives Fund) was
established in 1994 to support key pan-Canadian lifelong learning initiatives while
encouraging partnerships between the learning community, governments and the private
sector. Its objective is to support HRDC’s interest in promoting a lifelong learning
culture in Canada and more specifically, to encourage and support partnership initiatives
that will contribute to the development of a more results-oriented, accessible, relevant
and accountable learning system. This includes supporting initiatives that enhance
research and analysis, increase academic mobility (both national and international), and
promote learning information dissemination.
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In 1997-1998, the budget for the National Literacy Secretariat (NLS) increased by
31 percent to $29.3 million. The increase was earmarked for family and workplace
literacy projects as well as research. Since then, the NLS has encouraged a number of
provinces to focus their efforts on family literacy initiatives.
The NLS has relied on the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) findings and
proposed areas for further study to identify and develop projects with its partners. Based
on a survey which was conducted in 1994, in the summer 2000, the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development and Statistics Canada released the final report
of the International Adult Literacy Survey, Literacy in the Information Age. The report
compares the literacy skills in 20 countries: Australia, Belgium (Flanders), Canada,
Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands,
New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United
Kingdom and the United States. Some of the key findings are:
On the prose literacy scale, Canada ranked fifth among the 20 countries surveyed,
behind Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands;
On the document and quantitative literacy scales, Canada ranked eighth and ninth
Canada consistently outranked the United Sates, the United Kingdom, Australia and
New Zealand on all three literacy scales;
Canada was second only to Sweden in terms of the proportion of adults aged 16 to 65
at the very highest literacy levels.
Among Canadian participants there was a large range between very high and very
low scores on the prose literacy scale. IALS showed that the discrepancy between
people with low and high literacy skills was far larger in Canada than in European
countries such as Denmark, Norway, Germany, Finland and Sweden.
Mother-tongue instruction
Official languages
Linguistic duality is a vital element in the maintenance of Canadian diversity and search
for excellence. To energize this linguistic duality and in compliance with section 23 of
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Government of Canada intends to
provide young Canadians in minority language situations (English in Québec and French
elsewhere in the country) an education of comparable quality to that available to the
majority and expand access to Francophone post-secondary education in all regions of the
In March 1998, the federal government announced additional support to official language
teaching of $684 million over five years. This funding increase enabled the Department
of Canadian Heritage (PCH) to substantially augment the amounts paid to the provinces
and territories for education in the minority language and the teaching of French and
English as second languages. At the same time, the implementation of special measures
for investment in education helped to consolidate expertise in school management and the
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network of post-secondary institutions. In this context, a federal contribution of
$90 million over five years was granted to the Ontario government in June 1998 to
upgrade French-language school management in that province.
In January 1999, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Centre
national de formation en santé (CNFS), a French-language national health training
centre. The project’s management was handed to the University of Ottawa and the
Centre is working in partnership with health institutions across the country and with postsecondary institutions serving minority Francophone communities in various parts of
Canada. The CNFS intends to provide members of minority French-speaking
communities across Canada with increased access to post-secondary programs leading to
health-related occupations.
Also in 1999, PCH made a $3.5-million grant to the Regroupement des universités de la
francophonie hors Québec to implement the Réseau national d’enseignement
universitaire en français that gives thousands of Francophone students from across
Canada access to the best resources in French in their various fields of study without
having to leave their own regions.
PCH also ensures the promotion of second language instruction. The steady increase in
levels of bilingualism among youth proves the effectiveness of this activity. Statistics
Canada’s 1996 census data revealed:
an increase in the level of bilingualism in each province and territory except for
Saskatchewan, where the percentage remained stable.
17 percent of Canadians (5 million) speak both official languages compared to
slightly over 16 percent in 1991 and 13 percent in 1971.
24.4 percent of young Canadians aged 15 to 19 are bilingual (this is the most
bilingual generation in Canadian history).
As a result of the federal government’s financial assistance to provincial and territorial
governments for the teaching of French or English as a second language, more than
2.7 million young Canadians are learning their second official language, over 300,000 of
them in immersion classes. The budget increases announced in March 1999 will make it
possible to increase the number of students enrolled in these programs and strengthen the
networks of parents and agencies working to promote second language instruction.
In 1997-1998, PCH announced a five-year renewal of the Summer Language Bursary
Program and the Official Language Monitor Program. Over 7,000 post-secondary
students enter these programs every year. The first one enables young people to take
immersion French or English courses in the summertime. The second offers students
full-time or part-time employment in their mother tongue to help English or French
second language teachers with their work.
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Aboriginal languages
There are more than 50 Aboriginal languages in Canada, most of them threatened with
disappearance or extinction. The Government of Canada wants these languages
preserved, protected and taught to current and future generations: to this end it granted
$20 million in 1998 to the Aboriginal Languages Initiative of PCH. Aboriginal
organizations take on the program management and delivery. This program complements
the current Aboriginal language teaching programs in schools by placing the emphasis on
Aboriginal language instruction in communities. Funding was also provided in support
of Aboriginal languages through the Canada/Northwest Territories cooperation
Agreement for French and Aboriginal Languages, and the Canada/Yukon Cooperation
and Funding Agreement on the Development and Enhancement of Aboriginal Languages.
Other initiatives
While the education of children is under provincial jurisdiction, and as such, Citizenship
and Immigration Canada’s language training is delivered solely to adult immigrants, CIC
nevertheless has taken measures to address the needs of children. The Host Program has
been matching Canadian families with newcomer families since it 1986 to mitigate the
isolation and emotional burden of moving to a new country, and to assist in creating more
welcoming communities for newcomers to Canada. Since 1991, the Host Program has
experimented with various youth models across the country. Through peer matching or
buddy programs, immigrant and refugee youth are able to practice French or English,
obtain assistance with their schoolwork and learn about Canadian culture through games
and play with Canadian children. In 1998, Ontario Region introduced the Settlement
Workers in Schools Program, as a result of province-wide consultations on newcomer
settlement needs. The Program works in partnership with municipal school boards to
assist newcomer students and their families within the school system.
Canada recognizes that teachers play a key role in preparing youth for the challenges of a
changing society and knowledge-based economy. Launched in 1993, the Prime
Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence honour exceptional elementary and
secondary school teachers in all disciplines based on their ability to achieve outstanding
results with students, to inspire them to learn and continue learning, and to equip them
with the knowledge, attitudes and abilities they will need to succeed in the future. Award
recipients’ best teaching practices are promoted and shared with other educators. The
program is administered with advice and support from most major education stakeholders
in Canada and with funding from corporate partners.
International cooperation
CIDA’s Draft Basic Education Action Plan recognizes education as a human right that all
people possess, regardless of gender, race, age, socio-economic status, disability or
geographic location. The Action Plan promotes education as a critical tool for poverty
reduction, and as an indispensable means for effective participation in the societies and
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economies of the twenty-first century. CIDA’s spending on education was $41 million in
Canada continues to participate actively in the Program for North American Mobility in
Higher Education and the Canada-European Community Program for Co-operation in
Higher Education and Training. Established in 1995, these programs support
international mobility opportunities for Canadian students. The key objective is the
development of knowledge, skills, and competencies to ensure successful participation of
young Canadians in the global economy.
Student mobility is arranged via sustainable multilateral partnerships of universities and
colleges which ensure tuition fee waiver and credit transfer. Participating higher
education institutions also collaborate on the innovative use of new educational
technologies to develop joint courses, teaching materials and strategies for the benefit of
‘non-mobile’ students who are unable to study abroad.
Projects span a diverse range of subject areas in higher education, including business,
engineering, environment, agriculture, health, law and science, at both the undergraduate
and graduate levels. To date, more than 60 Canadian post-secondary institutions are
participating in projects under these programs, providing opportunities for approximately
400 Canadian students to undertake international placements in other countries each year.
Article 15: Right to Participate in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
Canada’s artistic and cultural sector produces a wide range of goods and services in all
the country’s territories and provinces. The Canadian cultural sector consists mainly of
small and medium-sized enterprises and includes entrepreneurs who are women,
Aboriginal people or youth. The artistic and cultural content expresses Canadian identity,
values and diversity.
During the 1998-1999 fiscal year, all orders of government in Canada together spent
about $6 billion on culture. Of this, the federal government contributed $2.8 billion,
provincial and territorial governments $1.8 billion and municipal councils $1.3 billion.
Broadcasting absorbs more than half of all federal spending on culture. The federal
government has devoted an additional $392 million to heritage treasures. In 1998-1999,
the provinces spent $694 million for libraries, and municipalities spent $1.08 billion.
The Department of Canadian Heritage continues as the federal department responsible for
promoting culture and cultural identity.
Linguistic minorities
The Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) has a series of programs that help people to
discover and appreciate Canada’s linguistic duality. These programs encourage
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exchanges between Francophone and Anglophone Canadians and promote the economic,
social and cultural benefits of this duality.
Through Canada-community agreements with each of the provincial and territorial
official language communities and with national Francophone agencies, the Department
helps to fund the activities of more than 350 community lobbying, service, animation and
educational agencies. The annual injection of $10 million into the program budget
announced in 1999 brought its annual funding to the unprecedented level of nearly
$32 million. This budget increase made it possible to conclude a new series of Canadacommunity agreements, support cross-Canada projects with long-term impacts on
community development and introduce new initiatives and ranges of economic, social
and cultural activities. Examples are the inauguration of the first satellite network of
Francophone community radio stations in Canada, and the Multipartite Cooperation
Agreement on the Artistic and Cultural Development of Canada’s Francophone and
Acadian communities.
Moreover, PCH, in conjunction with other federal departments, ensures the
implementation of sections 41 and 42 of the Official Languages Act. This initiative
includes building awareness in departments of community needs, mainly in terms of
cultural, human resources and economic development, community consultation, the
preparation of an action plan for federal institutions and submission of an annual report to
the Canadian Parliament. This co-ordinator role leads to the introduction of major
economic, cultural and human resources development projects in minority official
language communities across the country.
As part of the general increase in official languages support programs announced in 1999,
the Department is committed to giving new impetus to the government’s obligation to
minority official language communities by setting up the Interdepartmental Partnership
with the Official Language Communities. This new initiative was launched to establish
lasting partnerships and strengthen existing ones between minority official language
communities and federal agencies.
The agreements on the promotion of official languages reached with provinces and
territories authorize the introduction or improved delivery of provincial and territorial
services in the minority official language. These services may involve the administration
of justice, health and social services or economic and community development. In
March 1999, a $4-million increase was announced in the annual budget of these
agreements for a new total of $13.4 million. This increased funding will make it possible
to expand the range of services provided by provinces and territories and help to conclude
an initial agreement with Nunavut.
PCH promotes the significance of linguistic duality as indissociable from the Canadian
experience, not only as a source of vitality but also as an asset for Canada’s economic,
cultural and social development internationally.
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As the result of a study published by Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages in
August 1999 containing a series of recommendations for improving the status of French
on the Internet, the Government of Canada made a commitment to the “creation and
distribution of Canadian content in both official languages to benefit the entire Canadian
population [as] a primary objective.”
Francommunautés virtuelles is a federal program created by Industry Canada
( The program is designed to help Canada’s
Francophone and Acadian communities take full advantage of information and
communications technologies. The objectives of the program are to increase content,
applications and services in French on the Internet and to promote networking among
Francophone and Acadian communities throughout Canada. Since 1998, Frenchspeaking and Acadian communities in all parts of Canada have initiated 74 projects
creating new networks, enhancing information technology skills among their members,
and contributing to the growing body of on-line content in French.
Aboriginal people
The Cultural/Educational Centres Program provides financial assistance to First Nations
and other Aboriginal organizations to preserve, develop and promote Aboriginal culture
and heritage. In partnership with the National Association of Cultural Education Centres,
the program supports more than 110 centres across Canada, and helps enable First
Nations and Inuit people pursue objectives such as: to revive and develop traditional and
contemporary cultural skills of Aboriginal people; to conduct and/or facilitate research in
Aboriginal heritage and culture; to increase Aboriginal peoples’ knowledge and use of
their traditional languages; and, to promote cross-cultural awareness in mainstream
educational programs and institutions.
The Aboriginal Digital Collections is a unique pilot program by Industry Canada which
helps Aboriginal Canadians to preserve, celebrate and communicate their heritage,
languages and contemporary life by developing and accessing materials over the
Information Highway ( The program has paid
Aboriginal youth to create Web sites featuring significant Canadian Aboriginal material.
The material can range from information on Aboriginal businesses and entrepreneurship
to traditional knowledge and contemporary issues, such as the preservation of Aboriginal
For the first time, a widely available television network was launched on September 1,
1999, to give First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada the opportunity to share
their stories and culture. The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is a national
television network dedicated to Aboriginal programming which offers Canadians a
window into the diverse worlds of Indigenous peoples in Canada and throughout the
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The Northern Native Broadcast Access Program from Canadian Heritage, provided
funding to 13 Aboriginal communications societies for the production and distribution of
both radio and television programming for Aboriginal audiences.
Canada has supported a number of partnerships and special activities that highlight the
objectives of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The National
Aboriginal Achievement Awards, established in 1994, each year highlight and honour
Aboriginal men and women in Canada for their outstanding achievements in fields such
as business, sports, arts, the environment, health, and public service. In 1996, the
Canadian government designated June 21st as National Aboriginal Day so that all
Canadians may share and experience the cultures of Indians, Inuit, and Métis in Canada.
Funding provided to organizations and communication societies under the Aboriginal
People’s Program of PCH facilitate their involvement in the International Decade of the
World’s Indigenous People.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation was created by an Act of Parliament on
October 28, 1996. The Foundation, established to foster racial harmony and crosscultural understanding and help to eliminate racism, officially opened its doors in
November 1997. The federal government provided the Foundation with a $24 million
endowment fund. It’s annual operating budget comes from the income generated by
investing the endowment fund as well as donations.
In 1997, the renewed Multiculturalism Program was announced. Canada’s approach to
diversity has evolved over the years and is embedded within a broad framework of civil,
political, social, language and minority rights both nationally and internationally. The
Multiculturalism Program continues to support, among other things, initiatives that
facilitate the full and active participation of ethnic, racial, religious and cultural
communities in Canadian Society.
The Metropolis Project is a major international interdisciplinary policy-research initiative
designed to forge robust knowledge partnerships among researchers, policy-makers and
communities to ensure that public policy in the area of diversity is forged on the basis of
sound academic research.
This project has fostered cross-government dialogue on a vast array of issues emerging
from an increasingly diverse population. The result has been a dramatic increase in
nationally and internationally comparative research on best practices and issues arising
from diversity. This, in turn, has led to an increasing awareness among policy-makers,
researchers, and community organizations that to revise, create and implement the best
public policies requires partnership that extends to each level of the research endeavour.
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Role of the media
The Broadcasting Act largely promotes cultural rights by requiring, among other things,
that the Canadian broadcasting system encourage the development of Canadian
expression and reflect the diversity of the Canadian population.
On June 8, 1998, in response to phenomenal personal computer and Internet access
penetration growth among the Canadian population and a proliferation of companies
involved in new media (or multimedia) in Canada, the Department of Canadian Heritage
announced the creation of the Multimedia Fund. The Multimedia Fund, administered by
Telefilm Canada, will receive $30-million over five years in order to bring together high
technology and the creative endeavour. Specifically, the Multimedia Fund supports
small- and medium-sized new media companies in the development, production and
marketing of high-quality, original, interactive Canadian multimedia works in both
English and French intended for the general public. The Fund provides citizens with
greater access to Canadian cultural multimedia products, and assists in the growth and
development of a Canadian multimedia production and distribution industry that is
competitive in national and international markets.
Canada’s Digital Collections showcases over 400 Web sites celebrating Canada’s history,
geography, science, technology and culture ( It also features a
growing set of on-line educational resources, such as curriculum units, classroom
activities, quizzes and games. One of the largest sources of Canadian material on the
Internet, Canada’s Digital Collections has employed more than 2,700 young Canadians to
date, under contract to Industry Canada. The program is funded by the federal Youth
Employment Strategy.
Given the importance of television as a cultural medium, in 1996, the Department of
Canadian Heritage and Telefilm Canada partnered with private industry to create the
Canadian Television Fund to maintain and increase the amount of high quality,
distinctively Canadian programming for Canadian audiences. The Fund effectively
promotes Canadian culture by encouraging productions in the essential areas of drama,
variety, children’s shows, documentaries and performing arts in English, French and
Aboriginal languages.
The new Canadian Television Policy Framework, released in June 1999, is a key
document which outlines the obligations of broadcasters. It includes rules on ownership,
Canadian content, priority programming, local and regional news coverage, advertising
limits, social issues and cultural diversity. Guided by the policy framework, the
Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) expects all
television broadcasters, as a condition of their licence, to state their specific commitments
to accurately reflect the presence of cultural and ethnic minorities and Aboriginal people
in the communities they serve. Furthermore, licensees are expected to ensure that the onscreen portrayal of all minority groups is accurate, fair and non-stereotypical.
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The Government places a high priority on protecting the unique Canadian voice and
identity by helping Canadian writers, publishers, magazine, and booksellers to thrive in
the global economy and digital age. Among the programs in place is the Book Publishing
Industry Development Program (BPIDP) which contributes $31 million annually to
ensure the creation, publication, and distribution of Canadian-authored books, both
domestically and internationally by supporting a viable Canadian-owned industry.
Among the ongoing successes of the BPIDP is its key role in supporting works by
important Aboriginal Canadians through its support of Native-run publishers.
The Canada Magazine Fund was created in 1999 as the key public policy instrument to
support the Canadian magazine industry in a changing competitive environment. This
program invests $50 million in the Canadian magazine industry each year to offset the
cost of producing original Canadian editorial content, to support projects aimed at the
business development of small magazines and projects designed to strengthen the
infrastructure of the industry as a whole. The Publications Assistance Program offsets
the costs of distribution by subsidizing eligible magazines’ mailing costs, thus lowering
the cost of reaching Canadian readers. These programs create a balanced approach by
strengthening the Canadian magazine industry while respecting Canada’s international
obligations, therefore employing a combination of regulation and appropriate financial
In 1997, following the recommendations of a task force on the future of the Canadian
sound recording industry, funding to the Sound Recording Development Program
(SRDP) was increased by $15 million over three years. The SRDP supports Canadian
artists, companies and not-for-profit organizations involved in the sound recording
industry, with components that provide funding for mainstream and specialized music
recordings, artist tours and showcases, business development initiatives and research to
support government policy.
Following its review of private radio policy framework in 1997, the Canadian Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) increased its minimum
requirements for airplay of “Canadian content” musical selections from 30 percent to
35 percent for most mainstream radio formats effective January 1, 1999. This gives
further support to emerging and established Canadian artists. Also, as part of the new
framework, provisions were made to ensure that Canadian musical talent continued to
benefit even while greater consolidation in the market place was permitted. Thus,
6 percent of the value of a transaction where ownership of a radio station changed hands
is required to support Canadian talent development initiatives.
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produces and distributes films and other
audiovisual works which reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world. Its
collection of more than 10,000 films includes a large number of films made for or about
Telefilm Canada provides the film, television and multimedia industries with the
financial support to producing high-quality works that reflect Canadian society.
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Recognizing that cultural expression is closely bound to a country’s identity, that feature
film is one of the richest forms of art and that it is an influential and vibrant medium, the
Government of Canada launched a full review of its intervention in this area in
February 1998. Despite the success Canadian filmmakers have achieved over the last
30 years, they still face formidable odds in bringing their works to local movie audiences.
Involving a comprehensive consultation process with all interested stakeholders, the
review was designed to help set a course towards a future where more Canadians have
access to Canadian films playing in their local cinemas — films that reflect their own
locales, their own stories and their own culture.
Preservation and presentation of cultural heritage
In 1999, the Museums Assistance Program (MAP), which fosters access and
understanding of Canadians to their cultural, natural, artistic and scientific heritage, saw
its funding go from $7.2 million to $9.2 million. MAP’s priorities are projects that
convey Canadian history and highlight interprovincial perspectives; promote and support
the development of Aboriginal museums; and support and promote exchanges and
dialogue between Canadian museum organizations and sector professionals.
The Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Program was created in 1999 as part
of the Department of Canadian Heritage. By creating this program, the Government of
Canada absorbs costs arising from loss or damage to objects and accessories in an eligible
travelling exhibition. The indemnification program has two objectives: to give Canadians
greater access to Canadian and world heritage by means of exchanges of objects and
exhibitions in Canada and to provide a competitive edge to Canadian museums, libraries
and archives when they are up against foreign institutions for loans of prestigious
international shows.
In 1997, the Canadian Museum of Nature, a Crown corporation, inaugurated the Natural
Heritage Building (NHB) as its scientific and administrative headquarters. Embodying
the latest high-technology building techniques, the NHB is specially designed to meet the
security and conservation standards needed to safeguard Canadian natural history
collections. The mission of the Canadian Museum of Nature is to bring the public to take
more interest in the natural environment so that nature becomes better known, respected
and appreciated.
In 1997, the Government of Canada inaugurated the new National Archives of Canada
building. Its Preservation Centre contains the documentary heritage of Canadians. The
building includes laboratories and storage rooms with public and private archival records
of all kinds: paper and electronic records, maps, architectural drawings, photographs,
films, philatelic records, documentary art and so on. The National Archives helps to
preserve and safeguard Canadians’ heritage.
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Protection of artistic creation and production and intellectual property rights
Intellectual property issues have become important to First Nations seeking to protect
traditional knowledge. Canada has worked in partnership with Aboriginal organizations
to further the discussion of issues related to intellectual property. In 1999, the
Government of Canada published Intellectual Property and Aboriginal People: A
Working Paper. This paper outlines intellectual property issues from an Aboriginal
perspective, and its contents are presented as a guide for Aboriginal people and
communities and as a basis for discussion of issues relating to intellectual property and
traditional knowledge.
In April 1997, Canada concluded a reciprocal bilateral agreement with the United States
which provides for mutual assistance in the investigation of cases of illegally exported
archaeological and Aboriginal cultural property, and in the return of any such property to
its country of origin. This furthers the protection provided to cultural property in both
countries as signatories to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on illicit traffic in cultural
property, and protects that property in the interests of citizens of Canada and the United
In November 1997, the Government of Canada returned three groups of illegally
exported cultural property to its countries of origin: Peru, Mexico and Colombia, as part
of its treaty obligations under the 1970 UNESCO Convention. The Convention,
implemented in Canada through the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, is a major
instrument in the fight against illicit traffic, and ultimately contributes to the protection of
cultural diversity and national patrimony in signatory states.
In March 1999, Canada acceded to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of
Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Canada also, at the time, participated
in a Diplomatic Conference which sought to improve the Convention (and resulted in a
new Protocol to it) in ways that among other things, recognizes the increased threat to
cultural property seen in recent conflicts of an ethnically based, non-international nature,
in which cultural property has become a deliberate target in the violation of cultural
Each year, the Government of Canada, through the Income Tax Act and the Cultural
Property Export and Import Act, provides for exemptions from the payment of capital
gains tax for cultural property certified by the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review
Board, when sold or donated by individuals to designated institutions or public
authorities in Canada. Gifts of certified cultural property to designated institutions and
public authorities are also eligible for a tax credit to offset the tax on up to 100 percent of
net income. The value of certified cultural property donated or sold to Canadian public
institutions under these tax incentives totals over 100 million dollars annually.
One of the most important provisions of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act
concerns the availability of grants and loans to help designated institutions acquire
objects that have been refused export licences as well as objects of Canadian heritage
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interest currently in other countries. Under this provision, the Government of Canada
pays out around $1 million in grants and loans a year.
Contribution to the domestic capacity goals of the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights were realized through amendments to the Canadian Copyright
Act, which were completed in 1997. Accomplishments directly related to the adoption of
the amendments were wide in scope. They:
provided new remuneration rights to producers and performers of sound recordings
when their sound recordings are broadcast or publicly performed by radio stations and
in public places;
created a compensation system for private copying, in the form of a levy on blank
audio tapes, benefiting eligible composers, lyricists, performers and producers of
sound recordings for the unauthorized making of recordings;
provided exclusive book distributors with legal protection in the Canadian market
created a number of new exceptions to non-profit educational institutions, libraries,
archives, museums, broadcasters and persons with perceptual disabilities allowing
them to reproduce copyright material in specific circumstances without paying
royalties or obtaining authorization from rights holders;
enacted statutory damages and wide injunctions to enhance the enforcement of
copyright, and modernized the language in the Copyright Act;
enabled Canada to accede to the Rome Convention and the most recent version of the
Berne Convention.
As a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in December
1997, Canada signed the two treaties that were adopted at the WIPO Diplomatic
Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighboring Rights Questions in Geneva,
December 2 to 20, 1996: the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances And
Phonograms Treaty. And, in 1998 Canada undertook research and consultations on
legislative amendments that would be required to ratify these treaties.
International cooperation
Since 1994, the International Exhibitions Program of the Department of Canadian
Heritage has made it possible to offer more than 20 foreign exhibitions in nearly
100 Canadian museums and art galleries, helping Canadians to gain a better knowledge
of world cultural heritage.
The International Affairs Branch of Canadian Heritage has been working at several levels
to preserve and promote the rights of all Canadians to participate in the cultural life of
their country. Through participation in international expositions, advancing the linguistic
and cultural rights of french speaking Canadians through participation in La
Francophonie, as well as through advancing cultural rights through bilateral and
multilateral cooperation, International Affairs Branch has been contributing to meet
Canada’s obligations under the Covenant.
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Through the establishment of the International Network on Cultural Policy in 1998 and as
host of the international secretariat for the organization, Canada has contributed to a
global dialogue on how to preserve and promote various forms of cultural expression in a
context that respects all fundamental human rights and freedoms. Canada has actively
advocated and examined these issues at various fora. This includes leading a hemispheric
dialogue on culture and cultural diversity at the Summit of the Americas in Québec City
in April 2001. Ensuring effective international dialogue on cultural rights is an important
strategy in sharing of promising practices that contribute to universal enjoyment of
cultural rights.
Right to benefit from scientific progress and its applications
Institutional infrastructure
In 1996, the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology was replaced by the
Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACST) to advise the Prime Minister and
Cabinet on critical science, technology and innovation issues. Since this time they have
produced the following reports:
“Public Investments in University Research: Reaping the Benefits; Report of the
Expert Panel on the Commercialization of University Research,” ACST, May 1999
“Stepping Up; Skills and Opportunities in the Knowledge Economy,” ACST,
October 1999
“Reaching Out; Canada, International Science and Technology, and the Knowledgebased Economy,” ACST, June 2000
“Creating a Sustainable University Research Environment in Canada; The Role of the
Indirect Costs of Federally Sponsored Research,” ACST, September 2000
In 1996, the government issued a federal strategy for science and technology, Science
and Technology for the New Century, that set out the goals for the federal investment and
principles to assist departments in working toward those goals. A key theme of the
Strategy was the federal role in building the Canadian innovation system. Science and
Technology for the New Century called for a greater reliance on external advice which
resulted in the creation of the Council of Science and Technology Advisors (CSTA) in
1998. The CSTA provides the Canadian Cabinet, with external expert advice on internal
federal government science and technology issues requiring strategic attention. The
CSTA is chaired by the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development.
In April 1998, the CSTA held its inaugural meeting and established two sub-committees
to undertake the tasks requested by the Canadian Cabinet. The CSTA released its report
Science Advice for Government Effectiveness (SAGE), in May 1999. The report
recommended a set of principles and guidelines for the effective use of science advice in
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The CSTA has produced a number of additional reports that fall outside this reporting
period. Reports of the CSTA, as well as supporting documents, can be found on the
CSTA Web site ( The CSTA’s reports and their findings are
having a positive impact, with a number of science-based departments and agencies
independently moving forward on report recommendations.
Highlights of federal initiatives
The Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program is an innovative approach to
building partnerships between universities, industry and government to work together on
problems of strategic importance to Canada. The program provides funds to support
networking collaborations between university, industry and government researchers. The
program was initiated in January 1988 and made permanent in 1997 with an annual
program budget of $47.4 million which was increased by $30 million starting in 1999.
There are 22 nation-wide, multi-disciplinary networks in areas ranging from
biotechnology to telecommunications. Four new networks were chosen in 1998, three in
1999 and four in 2000, by peer-review selection committees. The Networks of Centres of
Excellence Program has produced significant discoveries, and has fostered dynamic and
productive university-industry collaboration, helping to accelerate technology
development and application.
The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), which was created in 1997, is an arm’s
length organization, established by legislation, that reports to Parliament through the
Minister of Industry. Its main goal is to provide financial assistance for the
modernization of research infrastructure in Canadian universities and colleges, research
hospitals and not for profit research institutes in the fields of health, environment, science
and engineering. By investing in research infrastructure projects, the CFI supports
research excellence, and helps strengthen research training at institutions across Canada.
The CFI supplies on average 40 percent of a project’s costs — the remaining 60 percent
is supplied by partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors (particularly provincial
The Canada’s SchoolNet program, a joint federal, provincial and territorial initiative,
helped connect 500,000 computers in schools and libraries across Canada. This initiative
provides Canadians educators, librarians and students with valuable electronic learning
tools and services, and encourages the development of information-technology skills.
A national network of 8,800 community access sites was established to create new and
exciting opportunities for growth and jobs and to help provide rural and urban
communities affordable access to the Internet, as well as the skills to use it effectively.
These public Internet access sites serve as information highway “on ramps.”
In addition, the Computers for Schools Program (CFS) was established to enable schools
and libraries to have better access to computers and supporting software to allow them to
take full advantage of the new information technologies. In collaboration with
educational institutions, communities, businesses and provincial and territorial
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governments, CFS has delivered more than 250,000 refurbished computers to schools and
libraries, free of cost.
Industry Canada supports people with disabilities through providing information and
support to the assistive technologies industry and to the rehabilitation engineering
research sectors. The department is a leader in the development of accessible Web
standards and multiple format production standards to provide accessible information for
all Canadians. Departmental staff also work on the development of other standards to
provide an accessible living and working environment for Canadian citizens.
Expenditures for scientific activities
Canada’s total expenditures on research and development amounted to $13.367 billion in
1994 and $15.703 billion in 1999; in proportion to the gross domestic product, they
decreased from 1.77 percent in 1994 to 1.66 percent in 1999.
In 1999, the federal government spent $6.16 billion on science and technology activities
without including federal research and development tax credits. About 58 percent of
science expenditures are spent on activities done by the federal government itself. In
addition, the federal government funds scientific activities in business enterprise, higher
education, provincial governments, private non-profit organizations, and other Canadian
and foreign organizations.
Extramurally, the largest recipients of federal government funds in 1999 are the highereducation sectors (19 percent) and the business sector (16 percent).
The government has made the commitment to make Canada one of the top five countries
for research and development performance by 2010. This is a challenge for all
Canadians, but in particular for the private sector as the largest research investor in
Canada. As its contribution, the federal Government will at least double the current
federal investment in research and development by 2010.
Technology transfer
The Expert Panel on the Commercialization of University Research was created in
October 1998 by the Advisory Council on Science and Technology (ACST). The Panel’s
mandate was to provide independent, expert advice on options to maximize the social and
economic benefits to Canada from the public investment in university research. The
Panel completed its work in May 1999. Its report Public Investments in University
Research: Reaping the Benefits is available on the ACST Web site (
The report calls for coherent university intellectual property policies, adequately
resourced university commercialization offices, skills development measures, a
competitive business environment and increased investments in university research.
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Measures taken to promote the dissemination of information about technical
The mandate of the Research Branch of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is to
promote the development, adaptation and competitiveness of the agriculture and agrifood sector through policies and programs that are most appropriately provided by the
federal government. The overall goal is to help the sector maximize its contribution to
Canada’s economic and environmental objectives and achieve a safe, high quality food
supply while maintaining a strong foundation for the agriculture and agri-food sector and
rural communities. Research Branch’s internet home page was redesigned to organize
information into areas targeted at key audiences: scientists, industry, managers, reporters,
and youth. The annual 200 page Directory of Research for 1998 was produced and made
fully searchable on the Internet.
“CanExplore,” a one-stop tool to search federal information resources in science and
technology for sustainability, was launched. Developed through a cooperative agreement
with Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada,
it indexes more than 200,000 Internet documents (
“Agvance” and “Connect with Research” were posted on the Internet. A search engine
can explore Agvance for stories on sustainability. “Connect with Research” describes
work done to achieve sustainable agriculture in 10 commodity areas, with contact names.
The Research Branch produced and promoted “Earth Tones” videos for the Discovery
Channel and the Internet. The series packages sustainability stories into themes related to
climate change, health, toxins in air and water, biodiversity, and citizen engagement.
Internet material forms the basis for “Cable in the classroom,” a teaching tool using the
videos and lesson plans to reach 12-16 year old children in school.
The Research Branch has also initiated actions to collaborate with provinces, universities,
and industry to undertake the development, and encourage the transfer of innovative,
affordable agriculture technologies.
The on-line Canadian Rural Information Service’s (CRIS) Environmental Directory
provides links to a wide range of agricultural and rural environmental sites. CRIS
responds to inquiries through the Internet, telephone, fax, mail and e-mail.
Protection of authors’ moral and material interests
The principal laws that protect the moral and material interest resulting from scientific,
literary or artistic productions are: the Patent Act, R.S.C., c. P-4, the Plant Breeder’s
Right Act, R.S.C., c. p-14.6, the Trade-marks Act, R.S.C., c. T13, Copyright Act, R.S.C.,
c. C-42, the Industrial Design Act, R.S.C., c. I-9 and the Integrated Circuit Topography
Act, R.S.C., c. I-14.6.
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Part IV
Measures Adopted by the
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British Columbia
Aboriginal people
The Government of British Columbia and the First Nations Summit have developed a
six-stage process for negotiating treaties:
The Statement of Intent
Preparation for Negotiations
Negotiation of a Framework Agreement
Negotiation of an Agreement in Principle
Negotiation to Finalize a Treaty
Implementation of the Treaty
The process is voluntary and is open to all First Nations in British Columbia. Additional
information on the six-stage treaty process can be found on the Web site of the Treaty
Negotiations Office, at
The Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has primary responsibility for treaty negotiations in
British Columbia. Through treaties and other negotiated agreements, the Ministry works
with First Nations to enhance self-reliance in Aboriginal communities both on and off
reserve and to build a society in which Aboriginal people can fulfil their aspirations for
self-determining and self-sustaining communities.
By way of background, while Aboriginal people make up only 2.8 percent of the total
Canadian population, British Columbia’s 200 bands account for approximately
17.5 percent of that national statistic. Of the province’s 200 bands, approximately 125, or
62.5 percent, are participating in the British Columbia Treaty Commission process.
During the reporting period, the following strides were taken under the British Columbia
Treaty Commission process:
an additional 10 First Nations initiated the six-stage process by submitting their
Statement of Intent;
43 tables were declared ready to begin negotiations and thus completed the second
stage of the six-stage process;
36 tables completed the third stage of the treaty process by signing a Framework
Agreement; and
the Sechelt Nation completed the fourth stage of the treaty process by signing an
Agreement in Principle.
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For more detailed information on the status of treaty negotiations under the BC Treaty
Commission model, please refer to the to the Web site of the Treaty Negotiations Office,
In addition, outside the British Columbia Treaty Commission process, negotiations with
the Nisga’a Nation resulted in an Agreement in Principle on March 22, 1996. On
August 4, 1998, representatives of British Columbia, the Nisga’a Tribal Council, and the
Government of Canada initialled the Nisga’a Final Agreement in a ceremony in the Nass
valley, in the heart of traditional Nisga’a territory. Settlement legislation was then
introduced in the province’s Legislative Assembly on November 30, 1998. It was passed
by a free vote of all Members of the Legislative Assembly on April 22, 1999. The
Nisga’a Final Agreement is a significant achievement as it is the first modern treaty to be
successfully negotiated in British Columbia. See the Introduction to the Government of
Canada section of the present report for additional information on the Nisga’a Final
Agreement. A copy of the Final Agreement can be found online at:
The Aboriginal Services Branch was established within the Ministry of Children and
Families (MCF) in part to assist Aboriginal communities develop their capacity to deliver
child and family services such as counselling, parenting programs, in-home support, and
respite care pursuant to the Child, Family & Community Services Act.
In addition, the Branch has forged formal agreements with numerous Aboriginal child
and family service agencies with the aim of devolving the authority of the provincial
Director of Child Protection to First Nations communities. The Branch assists these
delegated agencies in developing policies, practice standards, and a quality assurance
program that meet or exceed MCF requirements. The rationale behind this devolution of
services is to empower First Nations to deliver culturally appropriate services such that
the responsibility for Aboriginal children and families is returned once again to the First
Nations community of which they form a part.
Other MCF initiatives include the creation of a Strategic Plan for Aboriginal Services
(SPAS); the establishment of the Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents; the
development of Aboriginal Operational and Practice Standards; and the distribution of
culturally sensitive materials. Each initiative will be explained in turn.
With respect to SPAS, MCF developed the Plan through consultations with Aboriginal
organizations and other key stakeholders. It was formally adopted in January 1999. Its
four principal goals are:
strengthen the capacity and authority of Aboriginal communities to develop and
deliver services for children and families comparable to those available to any
resident of British Columbia;
strengthen the capacity of MCF to respond appropriately to the ongoing need for
Aboriginal services while Aboriginal communities acquire such capacity;
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coordinate federal obligations within provincial jurisdiction to address outstanding
issues of federal fiduciary responsibility for resources delivered to Status Indians,
regardless of where they choose to live; and
advocate within government for the development of viable Aboriginal economies and
economic opportunities, which are vital to the health and well being of Aboriginal
The Federation of Aboriginal Foster Parents was created in 1999. The intent behind its
creation was to provide culturally sensitive services while promoting the integrity of First
Nations’ communities.
The Aboriginal Operational and Practice Standards were also implemented in 1999 for
use by delegated Aboriginal child and family service agencies. It was thought that the
creation of the Standards would assist delegated agencies to strengthen the capacity of
First Nations’ communities to deliver culturally appropriate services to their children and
families. The Standards may be accessed online at
An example of the kinds of culturally sensitive material the Ministry has developed and
distributed in the reporting period includes the booklet, Aboriginal People and the Child,
Family and Community Services Act which is available online at This publication seeks to explain the various steps
in child protection court hearings and the increased opportunities for Aboriginal
communities to be involved in planning and delivering services and to assume greater
responsibility for their children.
Finally, MCF has adopted internal policies to utilize culturally sensitive practices during
child protection investigations and risk assessment determinations. To this end, it
provides appropriate training to its employees. The ministry also makes use of
specialized services, such as language and cultural interpreters as well as a cultural
responsiveness team.
Article 2: Rights Specifically Subject to Non-Discrimination
The principal legislative tool to combat discrimination at the provincial level is the
Human Rights Code. The Code protects against discrimination in four broad areas:
employment, publications, sale and rental of property, and lastly, public services,
facilities, and accommodation. The prohibited grounds of discrimination within these
four areas include: race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family
status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, political belief, and age. The
Human Rights Code is available online at
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Article 3: Equal Rights of Women and Men
During the reporting period, British Columbia had its own freestanding ministry devoted
to promoting equality between men and women. At the heart of the mandate of the
Ministry for Women’s Equality was the goal of economic equality for women.
The British Columbia Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Tribunal also
played important roles in ensuring equality between the sexes. As noted in Article 2, the
British Columbia Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex and
family status. Approximately 80 percent of human rights complaints in British Columbia
arise in the area of employment, one of the areas of focus of this Covenant. Thus, the
human rights system is intimately connected with the province’s efforts to ensure that
both women and men enjoy equal economic, social, and cultural rights.
Article 6: Right to Work
During the reporting period, the unemployment rate improved from a high of 9.0 percent
in 1994 to a low of 8.3 percent in 1999. Compared to the previous decade, the problem
of unemployment has substantially improved. For example, in 1985, the unemployment
rate in the province hovered around 14.5 percent. Most British Columbians work for the
private sector; however there is a growing trend of self-employment. The following chart
details the exact breakdown of employment over the private, public, and self-employed
BC Employment by Class of Worker
Public Sector
Private Sector
Women and men between the ages of 15 and 24 years have virtually identical
participation rates in the labour market at just over two-thirds. However, this pattern
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does not hold true for older workers. Roughly 90 percent of men aged 25-44 work in
comparison to 78 percent of women. The gap between participation rates is even more
pronounced amongst workers aged 45-64: on average, 80 percent of men in this cohort
work compared to 62 percent of women. Women are also more likely than men to work
part time: the 1996 Statistics Canada Census data shows that 34 percent of women
working part time wished to have full-time employment. Women are over-represented
amongst those who work in non-standard jobs such as “own account” (those who work
by and for themselves), self-employment, and employment in the home. These
differences likely related to the pressures family responsibilities place on women workers
who perform significantly more unpaid work for the family than men.
It is also widely recognized that visible minorities and people with disabilities face
greater challenges to full and equal participation in British Columbia’s labour force. Of
particular concern to the province is improving access by First Nations to employment
opportunities. For further information regarding British Columbia’s four employment
equity groups (women, First Nations, people with disabilities, and visible minorities),
please refer to the BC Stats’ Web site at
Encouraging employment opportunities in the province
One exciting development in this reporting period was British Columbia’s participation
in the Canada-BC Infrastructure Works Program (IWP) which was signed on
February 18, 1994, and “topped-up” April 18, 1997. The first phase of IWP resulted in
about 400 community improvement projects involving 9,000 jobs. The second phase,
announced in 1997, resulted in more than 200 projects and more than 2,600 jobs. Details
are available online at
More generally, the province continued its policies designed to generate employment
opportunities such as loan guarantees, direct provincial grants, and coordinated publicsector capital investments. One of the most striking examples of this kind of government
assistance was loan guarantees totalling $50 million for the Skeena Cellulose sawmill.
By stepping in to avert bankruptcy of this company, the province saved an estimated
1,100 jobs.
Public policy in British Columbia in this reporting period also sought to encourage both
venture capital and small business opportunities. For example, the government offered
tax credits to resident investors as part of the province’s venture capital program in return
for private capital investment in small businesses (those with fewer than 75 employees),
which diversified the economy. Between September 1994 and September 1999, the
venture capital program leveraged private sector investment of $132 million for
investment into 110 small businesses. Forgone provincial revenues (tax credits) were
$41 million or approximately 30 percent of the invested capital.
The venture capital program is particularly useful to businesses that have difficulty
attracting traditional debt financing, such as those engaged in manufacturing, research
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and development, destination tourism, and specialized agriculture. Examples of small
businesses in British Columbia that have grown and prospered under the program include
Sumac Ridge Winery Ltd., Race Face Components (bike parts manufacturer), Anormed
Inc. (pharmaceutical research), Xillix Technologies Inc. (Bio Life Sciences), and
Wickininish Inn (destination tourism).
With respect to promoting small business in British Columbia, a number of important
innovations were undertaken. The Small Business Branch of the Ministry of Small
Business, Tourism and Culture began publishing the Solutions for Small Business series,
which includes the following guides: Exploring Business Opportunities: An Innovative
Guide for BC Entrepreneurs; Resource Guide for British Columbia Businesses;
Guidelines and Requirements for Business; Home-Based Business Manual; and Business
Planning and Cash Flow Forecasting for Business, each of which can be found online at In addition, since April 1994, the
Canada/British Columbia Business Service Centre has supported business development
by providing a “one-stop” shop for business counselling. It is designed for fast, accurate,
and user friendly information that entrepreneurs and business owners can use to make
sound business decisions, including advice on government programs and services.
Ensuring full and equal participation by all
The Human Rights Code and the Multiculturalism Act demonstrate the legislative
commitment to full and equal participation by all British Columbians. One of the key
objectives common to both statutes is the desire to foster a society in which there are no
impediments to full and free participation in the economic, social, political, and cultural
life of British Columbia. The Multiculturalism Act is available online at
The legislative intent to eradicate barriers to full and equal participation is reflected in a
number of important government policies and services. For example, the Public Service
Employee Relations Commission, which provides for the recruitment and development of
a well-qualified and efficient public service, has adopted an employment equity strategy
in order to create a workforce that reflects the diversity of British Columbia’s population.
The Equity and Diversity Division of the Commission assists ministries and government
agencies to improve the representation of historically under-represented groups, namely,
Aboriginal people, visible minorities, people with disabilities, and women. Policy
initiatives include outreach recruitment, the preferential hiring of under-represented
groups to auxiliary positions, and equity and diversity training.
With respect to specific programs or services aimed at improving women’s social and
economic security, the government undertook the following:
In 1998-1999, the Ministry of Women’s Equality (MWE) reproduced Starting Your
Own Business, a resource guide for women entrepreneurs who wish to start their own
businesses. It covered basic information such as business financing and start up; and
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Between July 1997 and March 1999, the MWE ensured that women had opportunities
in government-supported projects such as the construction of high occupancy lanes
on highways in the Vancouver area. Women worked 11 percent of the hours on this
project and accounted for 5 percent of the construction workforce. This was well
above the industry average of less than 1 percent participation by women. For
additional information, please refer to Canada’s Fifth Report on the Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The province also acted to ameliorate conditions for British Columbians with disabilities.
The Ministry for Social Development and Economic Security established specialized
offices for its Disability Benefits Program, the mandate of which is to assist people with
disabilities to achieve their employment goals. Disability Benefits Program Referral
Officers are available to assist participants in determining the best course of action to
meet the participants’ training, education, and employment goals.
Specific services offered via the Disability Benefits Program include:
developing training and employability plans;
referring participants to appropriate training and employment programs and
community resources;
assisting participants to obtain volunteer positions and/or employment;
informing participants about the availability of all applicable benefits in order to
facilitate integration into the labour market; and
identifying barriers to work-related program participation.
Steps were also taken to facilitate involvement in British Columbia’s labour force by
youth and First Nations. For example, on April 1, 1996, the government introduced the
Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Training program, with the goal of encouraging
young people to start their own businesses. Over 4,800 young adults participated in the
program from its inception to the end of fiscal year 1998-1999. A second example is the
Visions for the Future Program, which hosted one-day conferences designed to increase
Aboriginal youth awareness of various career options, such as entrepreneurship and selfemployment. From April 1, 1998 to March 31, 1999, over 2,100 Aboriginal youth
Finally, it should be noted that the period from September 1994 to September 1999
witnessed a shift in the way services were provided to newcomers to British Columbia.
In 1996, the Ministry of Multiculturalism and Immigration (MMI) established five multisector working groups to identify training, accreditation, and employment needs of
immigrants and to recommend options and solutions.
In 1999, with the transfer of federal immigration support programs to the province, MMI
assumed responsibility for immigration settlement programs, including funding job clubs
for immigrants in the amount of $600,000 annually. Also in 1999, the MMI Equal
Opportunity Secretariat commenced a $150,000 annual program to assist non-profit
organizations to identify job barriers for members of the four designated employment
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groups (women, visible minorities, First Nations, and people with disabilities) and to
increase awareness about access to public sector jobs.
Technical and vocational programs
Through BC Benefits, a comprehensive skills training and education program, increasing
numbers of British Columbians receive the help they need to succeed with the transition
from social assistance programs to work. The program provides job search,
employability and skills training for: youth aged 19-24 and students in transition to the
workplace; those 25 and older on income support; persons with disabilities; workers who
require skills upgrading or face job loss; and employers who are fostering a training
For example, BC Benefits’ Youth Works program guarantees eligible youth between 19
and 24 years access to job search, job preparation, work experience and/or training.
Another BC Benefits program, Welfare to Work, redirects adults aged 25 years and older
from welfare into job search, training and work experience. Its goal is to provide
programs that will help people leave welfare for work. It reduces barriers to moving
from welfare to work, without reducing the support that is provided to families with
younger dependent children.
Both Youth Works and Welfare to Work include workplace-based training initiatives so
that participants can gain work experience and on-the-job training to improve their
marketability in the labour market. Between November 1997 and February 1999,
16,228 participants took advantage of this on-the-job training.
Other vocational and training programs directed specifically at youth include Youth
Options and Visions for the Future. Youth Options provides opportunities for
participants to earn post-secondary tuition credits; support for science and technology
graduates to obtain their first job in their field; opportunities for involvement in
environmental projects; vocational and entrepreneurship training; and exposure to work
in the public service. The second program, Visions for the Future, is designed to help
Aboriginal youth develop long-term career plans and learn about job training and
education options.
There are also vocational and training programs that specifically target youth. The AtRisk Minors Services (ARMS) program is a pre-vocational life skills development
program that boosts high-risk youth in developing the necessary basic life skills they
need to overcome barriers and become successful participants in educational and
vocational training programs.
In addition, government created the Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission
(ITAC) to encourage growth and change in apprenticeships, and expand the number of
skilled people in designated trades and occupations. ITAC works with business, labour
and education institutions and, since its inception, has served over 25,000 clients,
providing over 23,000 training opportunities through industry training and apprenticeship
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programs. ITAC promotes apprenticeship and work-based training for under-represented
groups. This has resulted in a 23 percent increase in the number of women in trades and
technologies since ITAC was established in 1997.
Furthermore, nine Career Technical Centres (CTCs) have been established to provide an
opportunity for secondary school students to receive a high school diploma and either a
college certificate or credit towards a college credential in two and one-half years or less.
Thirteen Community Skills Centres (CSCs) offer flexible, client-focused training through
the use of educational technologies and partnerships with public and private training
providers. During the reporting period, thousands of British Columbians participated in
training and education programs offered through CSCs.
The Government of British Columbia has also continued its commitment to improve
vocational training for its citizens with disabilities. On April 1, 1998, British Columbia
entered into a new cost-sharing agreement with the Government of Canada. The
Employability Agreement for Persons with Disabilities (EAPD) replaced the former
Vocational Rehabilitation for Persons with Disabilities Agreement and has the capacity to
provide British Columbia with a maximum of $27 million in cost sharing in each of the
five years the agreement covers. Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) is one of nine
programs administered by four different ministries that is cost shared under the EAPD
The goal of VRS is to assist British Columbians with permanent disabilities to become
economically independent by helping them to develop job skills, and find and maintain
employment. During the 1998-1999 fiscal year, VRS spent $12.12 million providing
specialized goods and services to 7,975 program participants across the province.
Employment and fundamental political and economic freedoms
The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of political
belief. In this way, the Code seeks to prevent terms and conditions of work from
infringing basic political rights of British Columbians.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
Equal pay for equal work
Section 12 of the Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in wages on the basis of
sex. Thus, the statute mandates equal pay for men and women performing “similar or
substantially similar work.”
For further information on pay equity initiatives, please refer to Article 11 of British
Columbia’s submission to Canada’s Fifth Report on the Convention of the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
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Setting wages
There are two principal methods of determining wages in British Columbia. Negotiations
held during collective bargaining sessions set wages for unionised employees, while the
market forces determine wages for those who do not belong to unions. Both of these
methods are subject to British Columbia’s minimum wage which sets a floor for workers’
salaries below which rates of pay cannot fall.
The unionisation rate amongst British Columbia employees has remained relatively stable
during the reporting period at approximately 35 percent. Unions dominate in primary
industries such as logging, mining, and fishing. They are also commonplace in the
transportation, education, and public administration sectors of the economy. In contrast,
they are rare in the rapidly expanding tourism and service sectors.
Not surprisingly, unionised workers tend to enjoy higher wages than their non-unionised
counterparts. To illustrate this point, the average hourly wage of a worker in the
Accommodation, Food and Beverage Sector in 1997 was $10.10. The average hourly
wage of a worker in the union dominated Forestry, Fishing and Mining Sector for the
same year was $21.41.
British Columbia’s minimum wage
Pursuant to the Employment Standards Act enacted in 1995, the Lieutenant-Governor-inCouncil fixes British Columbia’s minimum wage. In making this determination,
government considers several economic indicators including:
the average hourly and weekly industrial wage in British Columbia;
the percentage increase in BC’s Consumer Price Index;
minimum wage levels in other Canadian and American jurisdictions;
the percentage of annual Gross Domestic Product growth in British Columbia
industries that hire large numbers of minimum wage earners, such as agriculture,
retail trade, food services, accommodation, and personal services;
the most current value of Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut-Off rates;
the average costs of food, clothing, and shelter in British Columbia; and
the status of other economic and social indicators provided to government by
business, labour, and community stakeholder groups.
British Columbia’s minimum wage provision applies to virtually every employee in the
province. Only those workers who are specifically excluded under the Employment
Standards Act are not covered. For example, some self-governing professionals are
excluded from the Act.
From September 1994 to September 1999, the government increased the minimum wage
four times from $6.00 to $7.15. According to Statistics Canada’s annual Labour Force
Survey, minimum wage earners comprise between 3 percent to 6 percent of the
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province’s workforce in any given year. For example, in 1998, 73,900 workers in British
Columbia earned the minimum wage. That figure dropped slightly in 1999 to 68,600.
Pursuant to the Employment Standards Act, employees of the Employment Standards
Branch of the Ministry of Labour are authorized to conduct investigations to ensure
compliance with the minimum wage regulation. If necessary, monetary penalties may be
assessed against employers violating the Act. A copy of the statutory complaint
mechanism and the provision relating to monetary penalties under the Act can be found
on the Web site of the Government of British Columbia, at (see sections 74, 76 and 99).
Equal opportunity for promotion
The principle of equal opportunity for promotion amongst all workers in British
Columbia is enshrined in section 13 of the Human Rights Code. Section 13 prohibits
discrimination regarding “employment or any term of employment” because of the race,
colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status,
physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, age, or previous unrelated criminal
conviction. Consequently, a person who is denied promotional opportunities on any of
these prohibited grounds may file a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights
For further information on equal opportunities for equal promotion with respect to
women, please refer to Article 7 in British Columbia’s submission to Canada’s Fifth
Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Rest and reasonable limitation of working hours
The Employment Standards Act regulates the work-week as well as rest periods and
vacations for employees under provincial jurisdiction. Specifically, it determines:
the hours of work (eight per day, 40 per week);
overtime premiums if the maximum hours per week are exceeded (1.5 times the
regular rate of pay for the first three hours after a regular eight hour work day, and
2 times the regular rate of pay for anything above 11 hours per day);
minimum hours of rest (eight hours per day or 32 hours per week otherwise overtime
rates apply);
mandatory pay for statutory holidays (either the employee does not work the statutory
holiday and receives his or her regular rate of pay or the employee is paid premium
rates and is entitled to an additional day off in the future); and
entitlement to paid vacations (after 12 months of work, an employee is entitled to two
weeks paid vacation; this amount increases in proportion to an employee’s length of
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Occupational health and safety
The Workers Compensation Act Part III prescribes the minimum conditions of
occupational health and safety amongst employees within provincial jurisdiction. The
Workers Compensation Board (WCB), an independent board established under the Act,
employs some 200 field staff including occupational safety officers, occupational hygiene
officers, and ergonomists to ensure compliance with these minimum health and safety
standards. In the face of violations, WCB staff may impose administrative penalties or
recommend active prosecution. In addition, annual WCB rates charged to employers
depend on the number of claims made under the scheme in the previous year. Thus, a
firm with a poor accident record will be assessed at a higher rate than one with few WCB
The vast majority of workers in British Columbia are governed by the minimum WCB
health and safety standards. The Act excludes only a very narrow band of workers such
as professional sports players or those working in sole proprietorships or nonincorporated partnerships. A separate act sets minimum health and safety standards for
The WCB report, Lost Lives, a full copy of which is available at, analysed rates of workplace disease and accidents.
It revealed that employees working in primary resource sector such as forestry and
fishing were particularly at risk for on-the-job accidents. The top five accident categories
were motor vehicle accidents, struck-by-object accidents, aircraft accidents, falls from
elevation, and industrial vehicle accidents.
Work related diseases are far less visible than workplace accidents because, typically,
they do not result from a single incident. Disease progress is often slow, and workers
may not notice any symptoms until years after their exposure to a hazardous substance.
Nevertheless, work-related diseases are responsible for over 25 percent of all reported
work-related deaths. Lung diseases topped the list of work related illnesses accounting
for 72 percent of work related disease fatalities within the province. Most were caused
by asbestos particles or silica dust, although concerns are growing about the deleterious
impact of second-hand tobacco smoke on workers.
Other initiatives affecting the right to just and favourable conditions of work
Workers in the community social services sector provide a wide range of services to
children-in-care, infants, adults with developmental disabilities, people with special
needs, and children and youth in conflict with the law. This sector is supported through
government’s commitment to a low-wage redress policy designed to improve conditions
for workers in jobs that have been historically undervalued and underpaid. Between 1994
and 1999, the program received more than $500 million in provincial funding.
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Article 8: Trade Union Rights
Right to form/join unions
Section 4 of the Labour Relations Code upholds the right of any employee to “be a
member of a trade union and participate in its lawful activities.” Thus, there are no legal
impediments to joining a trade union in British Columbia. Similarly, there are no
restrictions placed upon the exercise of a worker’s right to form unions. In fact, section 6
of the Labour Relations Code prohibits various unfair labour practices including
employer interference with the formation of trade unions. The Code is available on the
Web site of the Government of British Columbia, at
In 1999, trade union membership in British Columbia climbed to 592,413 members, up
by 2.4 percent from 1998. The overall proportion of the provincial paid work force
belonging to unions was 36.2 percent. Although the ratio of union membership to paid
worker has been stable for the past few years, it is still lower than the average ratio
between 1950 and 1990. The unionised portion of the work force since 1986 has fallen to
the levels of the early 1940s. This is mainly a result of the slow growth in the work force
in the highly organized primary and manufacturing industries in the province coupled
with rapid expansion in the more non-unionised service sector. The 1999 results mark a
change in this recent pattern.
Twenty-five trade unions in the province had a membership in excess of 5,000 in 1999.
The largest were the Canadian Union of Public Employees with over 100,000 members,
the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union and Affiliates with
over 60,000 members and the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation at approximately
Right of unions to join national or international labour organizations
There are no legal or practical restrictions placed on the right of trade unions in British
Columbia to join either national or international labour organizations. To provide a
concrete example, the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union is
part of the Canada-wide National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
NUPGE, in turn, is a member of the Public Service International Trade Union Secretariat
of Public Sector Unions, which as its name suggests, operates at the international level.
Legal limits on unions
Unions are allowed to function freely in British Columbia, subject only to legal limits
contained in statutes such as the Human Rights Code or the Labour Relations Code. For
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A union cannot discriminate against a person with respect to membership in a union
because the person has exercised a right, or participated in a proceeding, under the
Labour Relations Code: section 5(1) of the Labour Relations Code.
A union cannot persuade employees to join or not join a union at the employer’s
place of employment during working hours: section 7(1) of the Labour Relations
A union cannot use coercion or intimidation to compel or induce a person to become
or not become a member of a trade union: section 9 of the Labour Relations Code.
A union must apply the principles of natural justice in disputes relating to matters in
the union constitution, a person’s membership in the union, and discipline by the
union: section 10(1) of the Labour Relations Code.
A union must not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith in
representing members of a bargaining unit: section 12(1) of the Labour Relations
A union cannot exclude, expel, suspend, or discriminate against any person on the
basis of one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination: section 14 of the Human
Rights Code.
Promotion of collective bargaining
British Columbia’s Labour Relations Code is predicated on the promotion of collective
bargaining. The “purpose” section announces the Legislature’s intent: “The following
are the purposes of this Code: (a) to encourage the practice and procedure of collective
bargaining between employers and trade unions as the freely chosen representatives of
This intent to encourage collective bargaining is echoed throughout the rest of the statute.
For example, section 11 places an obligation on both unions and employers to bargain
collectively in good faith. Section 23 gives the Labour Relations Board the authority to
certify a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for a bargaining unit of employees.
Right to strike
Workers in British Columbia have the legal right to strike, subject to the following
restrictions set out in the Labour Relations Code:
Strikes are not permitted during the term of a collective agreement: sections 57 and
Strikes are not permitted until the union and employer have attempted to bargain
collectively, and the majority of members in the union’s bargaining unit have voted to
support the strike: section 59(1).
A strike is not permitted until the union serves both the employer and the Labour
Relations Board with notice of the impending strike, and the strike cannot commence
until 72 hours after notice was served: section 59.
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Another limitation on the right to strike is contained in Part 6 of the Labour Relations
Code, which governs essential services. Under this Part, the Labour Relations Board may
designate essential services in cases where the Minister of Labour considers that a labour
dispute poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the residents of British
Columbia. Examples of essential services include health care workers, emergency
dispatch personnel, highway road clearance crews, police, and firefighters. A strike or
lockout cannot commence until the Labour Relations Board determines the appropriate
essential service levels, namely the minimum number of workers that must be kept on the
job to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of British Columbia residents.
With respect to police and firefighters, the Legislature of British Columbia passed a
separate Fire and Police Services Collective Bargaining Act in 1995. This act provides
that either the union or the employer may apply to the Minister of Labour to have a
dispute submitted to binding arbitration if the parties are unable to conclude a collective
agreement through the normal channels of collective bargaining. A strike or lockout
cannot occur if the Minister makes a direction for binding arbitration. Since the Act’s
inception, the Minister has imposed binding arbitration only once.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
Due to Canada’s federalist system, residents of British Columbia receive benefits
provided through an overlapping federal and provincial scheme. Through the province,
all British Columbians who meet the relevant eligibility criteria are entitled to:
income assistance benefits based (BC Benefits Income Assistance);
disability benefits (BC Benefits Disability);
family benefits (BC Benefits);
old-age benefits (BC Benefits Seniors Supplement);
health care benefits (Medical Services Plan of BC).
Those who work are also entitled to the following minimum benefits:
employment injury benefits (through Workers’ Compensation Board claims)
pregnancy leave (Employment Standards Act, section 50);
parental leave (Employment Standards Act, section 51);
family responsibility leave (Employment Standards Act, section 52); and
bereavement leave (Employment Standards Act, section 53).
BC Benefits
To expand upon each of these branches of social security offered by the province, the BC
Benefits Income Assistance program is designed to provide essential income support,
employment and training support, and other benefits to British Columbians who need
temporary assistance and meet the eligibility requirements of the BC Benefits (Income
Assistance) Act. The program is limited to those who can demonstrate financial need
based on stringent income and asset tests. Recipients aged 25-60 who are employable
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and who are not single parents with dependent children under seven years are required to
participate in training and job search programs in order to continue to qualify to receive
Disability Benefits
BC Benefits also provides Disability Benefits to assist persons with disabilities in
overcoming barriers to independence. They are designed to allow persons with
disabilities to participate more fully in their communities and, in some cases, in the job
market. A person may apply for Disability Benefits if he meets the following criteria:
is 18 years or older; and
as a direct result of a severe mental or physical impairment:
requires extensive assistance or supervision in order to perform daily living tasks
within reasonable time, or
requires unusual and continuous monthly expenditures for transportation or for
special diets or for other unusual but essential and continuous needs, and
has confirmation from a medical practitioner that the impairment exists and is
likely to continue for at least one year, or is likely to recur.
Benefits for people with dependent children
Family benefits designed to assist those with dependent children include BC Family
Bonus, the BC Earned Income Benefit, Healthy Kids, and Child Care Subsidy programs.
Each program will be explained in turn.
The BC Family Bonus, implemented in July 1996, provides a tax-free payment to all low
and moderate income families, regardless of their source of income. It was the first
program of its kind in Canada to replace welfare-based child benefits with benefits
available to all families meeting the relevant income guidelines, including families who
are part of the province’s working poor. The benefits are designed to reduce child
poverty and also to assist parents in moving from welfare to work.
Two years after British Columbia created the BC Family Bonus program, the
Government of Canada introduced the National Child Benefit. As a result, the province
reinvested savings from its Family Bonus program into a new provincial program, the BC
Earned Income Benefit. This new provincial benefit replaced the Working Income
Supplement, which had been discontinued by the federal government. The BC Earned
Income Benefit provides a supplement of up to $605 per child per year to the Family
Bonus, based on a family’s earnings. It is designed to assist low-income families care for
their children and provides parents with more opportunities to enter the labour market.
The final family benefit offered through BC Benefits is a monthly childcare subsidy,
available to families of low to moderate means. The purpose of the subsidy is to make it
economically feasible for low or moderate income earners to re-enter the workforce.
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Old-age benefits
Lastly, there are limited old-age benefits provided under the BC Benefits umbrella. The
Seniors Supplement program assures a minimum monthly income for British Columbia
seniors who receive the federal Old Age Security pension and Guaranteed Income
Supplement or the federal Spouse’s Allowance. If a senior’s total income, including any
federal pensions, falls below the level guaranteed by the province, a supplement is
provided to make up the shortfall.
To give a sense of the scope of the program, as of September 1999, there were
159,116 families or individuals receiving BC Benefits. In the 1998-1999 fiscal year, BC
Benefits expenditures totalled $1.3 billion.
Health care
In addition to the BC Benefits programs, all British Columbians enjoy a universal health
care system. The Medical Services Plan of British Columbia covers medically required
services provided by general practitioners, specialists, and supplementary health care
practitioners, as well as laboratory services and diagnostic procedures.
The Healthy Kids program extends basic dental and vision care to children in low and
moderate income families who are not already covered by federal or employer sponsored
insurance plans. Eligibility is determined using the Medical Services Plan premium
subsidy formula. Again, this program is designed to help remove barriers for parents
moving from welfare to work.
Employment benefits
With respect to employment-related benefits, all employees within provincial jurisdiction
are entitled to the minimum benefits set out in the Employment Standards Act. Thus, a
pregnant employee is entitled to 18-24 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave. Pregnancy
leave can be extended for up to 12 additional weeks by requesting parental leave. Like
pregnancy leave under the Act, parental leave is also unpaid. It should be noted that
provincial pregnancy and parental benefits complement federal monetary benefits as part
of a comprehensive overlapping regime. Employees are also entitled to up to five days of
unpaid leave each employment year to meet responsibilities related to the care, health,
and education of an immediate family member as well as up to three days of unpaid leave
in the event of the death of an immediate family member.
These minimum benefit entitlements set out in the Employment Standards Act are often
supplemented by private plans such as private insurance or provisions contained in
collective agreements. In the case of unionised workers, it is common to have more
extensive accident and illness protections than those provided statutorily. As a result,
most collective agreements in British Columbia provide for a Short Term Illness and
Injury Plan in addition to a Long Term Disability Plan for more permanent conditions.
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Those British Columbians who do not have access to steady employment, especially
unionised employment, are disadvantaged in terms of access to and quality of available
benefits. Those categories of British Columbians who are over-represented in
traditionally non-unionised sectors are particularly affected. For example, women and
youth dominate the rapidly expanding service industry, a sector not easily penetrated by
trade unions. Typically, they receive fewer and less generous benefits than employees
occupying unionised positions.
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
The importance that British Columbians place on the role of the family continues to be
reflected in the creation in September 1996 of a new free standing ministry devoted to the
needs of children and families. The Ministry for Children and Families was created by
bringing together components of five ministries in order to streamline services for
children and families and to strengthen the province’s child protection system. The
Ministry was established in response to two key reports on the province’s child and
family system, the Report of the Gove Inquiry into Child Protection, released in
November 1995, and the Morton Report: British Columbia’s Child, Youth, and Family
Serving System, Recommendations for Change, released in September 1996.
It is estimated that one in 10 people (over 400,000) in the province receives help from
this Ministry each year. Services include child protection, foster care, adoption programs
and assistance, family supports such as counselling, parenting programs, and respite care,
children’s and youth mental health, school-based programs, youth services, special needs,
Aboriginal services, early childhood development, and youth justice initiatives.
One final important development was the expansion of British Columbia’s, and
Canada’s, legal definition of “spouse.” An important jurisprudential milestone was
reached in 1999 with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in M. v. H (see
Jurisprudence section of the present report for additional information).
The spirit of the M. v. H. decision is reflected in legislation such as the Adoption Act,
which permits both opposite and same-sex couples to adopt children, and in the
Definition of Spouse Amendment Act, 1999, R.S.B.C. 1999, c. 29, which sought to
modernize under-inclusive definitions of “spouse” in British Columbia statutes.
This reporting period marks important developments in British Columbia with respect to
adoptions. On November 4, 1996, the British Columbia Legislature passed the Adoption
Act (available at Under the new
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The Ministry for Children and Families offered operational supports to the legislative
initiative on adoption by implementing and developing:
an adoption information and referral telephone line;
a support organization for adoptive parents of special needs children;
three provincially-funded registers: the Birth Fathers’ Registry to enable a birth father
to register his interest and be notified of any adoption plan involving his child taking
place in British Columbia; the Post-Adoption Openness Registry to enable birth
parents and adopting parents with closed adoptions to register for an openness
arrangement if they choose; and the Adoption Reunion Register to provide search and
reunion services to adopted adults and their birth families.
To provide some sense of the demand for these services, statistics gathered from April 1,
1998, to March 31, 1999, show:
children have more say in adoptions;
all adoptions are regulated;
birth parents and adoptive parents have more options for openness;
Aboriginal birth parents, bands, and communities have greater opportunities to plan
for their children;
licensed adoption agencies were established in urban centres to provide the public
more choice regarding adoption services.
There were 117 domestic adoptions.
Adoption agencies licensed under the Adoption Act approved 202 adoption
The Post Adoption Registry facilitated 546 exchanges of information.
There were 103 registrations on the Post Adoption Openness Registry, and six
matches were completed.
The Birth Father’s Registry had nine registrations and 404 search requests, with eight
matches made.
The number of Adoption Reunion Registry active reunions totalled 247.
Attention was also paid to the issue of international adoption during this reporting period.
In April 1997, British Columbia along with the other jurisdictions in Canada ratified the
Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.
School Meal Program
During the reporting period, the province funded the School Meal Program which
provided nutritious meals for students in over 300 schools as well as the Healthy Kids,
BC Family Bonus, and the BC Earned Income Benefit explained in Article 9.
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Immigrant families
Family services to immigrant families were also expanded. Refugees recognized under
the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees were able to apply for regular income
assistance and benefits. Previously, regular assistance was provided only after refugees
were granted landed immigrant status, a process that can take several years. By
providing regular assistance as soon as refugees apply for landed status, they and their
families are granted earlier access to school start up allowances and other supports that
lead to earlier independence.
As previously discussed in Article 9, British Columbia provides maternity benefits. The
minimum standard set by the Employment Standards Act is 18 consecutive weeks of
unpaid leave, commencing 11 weeks immediately before the estimated date of birth.
Mothers may choose to supplement their pregnancy leave by also claiming parental leave
under the Act. The parental leave provision provides an additional 12 weeks of unpaid
The Government of Canada provides monetary benefits for women who have taken
leaves from work. In this way, the provincial and federal benefit schemes fit together in
order to offer full protection to pregnant women.
There were also a number of pre-natal programs implemented during the reporting
period. For example, the Ministry for Children and Families introduced phase one of the
Building Blocks program in 1997 in ten locations throughout the province. The program
focuses on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAS/FAE), prevention,
enhanced child care, and home visiting services for children under the age of five. In
1998-1999, the program expanded to 27 other communities. At the same time, the
Ministry began publishing print and video educational materials for families living with
FAS/FAE affected children. A list of online resources is available at
There are also pregnancy outreach programs which provide services to pregnant women
at risk for having low birth weight infants. The services begin pre-natally and continue
for six months after birth. The program promotes breastfeeding and provides
professional and peer support regarding proper nutrition, smoking, alcohol, and other
health related issues.
Age of Majority is described in the Second Report of Canada on the Convention on the
Rights of the Child.
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Protection from Economic or Social Exploitation
A number of important innovations occurred with respect to child protection and foster
care during the relevant period. For example, with respect to child protection issues,
from 1995 to 1997, the British Columbia Risk Assessment Model was implemented,
providing training to approximately 1,500 government child protection staff and
2,000 community partners. The purpose behind the model was to ensure consistent, wellinformed decision-making in child protection cases throughout the province. Its aim is to
assist front line staff in making critical risk decisions regarding the safety and well being
of children.
Also in 1997, the Ministry for Children and Families in conjunction with the Ministry of
Attorney General’s Dispute Resolution Office established the Child Protection Mediation
Program. Under section 22 of the Child, Family and Community Services Act, mediation
services are offered in disputes between the Ministry for Children and Families and
parents about the care of their children. Under the Child Protection Mediation Program, a
roster of specialized child protection mediators was established. All mediators on the
roster are private practitioners hired on contract by the Ministry of Attorney General, and
all have mediation training and at least 100 hours of mediation experience. They have
also received training on issues unique to child protection mediation. These mediation
services are offered free to participants.
The key objective of the Child Protection Mediation Program is to resolve as
collaboratively as possible issues between Ministry for Children and Families and
parents. The program attempts, in appropriate cases, to avoid the polarizing effects of
court proceedings, which often disrupt the necessary working relationship between the
government child protection workers and families. It is hoped that mediation services
offered under this program will facilitate a child-centred problem solving approach to
In 1998, the Ministry for Children and Families developed the brochure, Your Role as
Relative, available online at: Its purpose is
to advise extended family members of their significant role in child protection situations.
With respect to children in foster care, implementation of the recommendations stemming
from the Report of the Task Force on Safeguards for Children and Youth in Foster or
Group Home Care (available online at: began in 1997. In response, the
province developed the following wide range of supports for foster parents to enable
them to provide high quality services to children in care:
18 hours of pre-service orientation for potential foster parents;
extensive training (53 hours) for foster parents;
the development of protocols addressing allegations of abuse and neglect, quality of
care concerns, and conflict resolution;
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distribution of the Foster Family Handbook (available online at: which discusses how the Ministry for Children and
Families and foster parents can work together to provide quality care for children and
youth in foster homes;
implementation of a policy whereby legal fees are paid for foster parents who are
involved in civil or criminal suits related to unfounded allegations of abuse of
children in care;
provision of respite support of three days a month; and
establishment of the After Hours support line which provides professional
consultation and support to foster parents.
For older children in care, amendments of the Child, Family, and Community Services
Act were adopted which provided new flexibility in the provision of support services.
The amendments allow for Youth Agreements for young people aged 16-19 who cannot
live at home. The Agreements provide for residential, emotional, financial, and other
support services for youth while they acquire the skills necessary to make the transition to
adulthood and independence.
Also during the relevant reporting period, the Ministry for Children and Families
continued to fund the Federation of British Columbia Youth in Care Networks. The
Federation is a non-profit society run by and for youth between the ages of 14 and 24
who are or who have been in government care. The purposes of the organization are to:
advocate for new and improved services for youth in care;
participate in the development of new governmental policy for youth in and leaving
act as advocate for youth in care.
An example of the collaboration between the Ministry for Children and Families and the
Federation was the development of the publication Useful Tips for Youth Leaving Care
Handbook, available online at:
Finally, at the end of the reporting period in 1999, the government fully implemented the
Looking After Children Program. The program uses a child-centred approach to help
assess needs and achieve better outcomes for children and youth in care.
One other policy area that underwent significant growth in this reporting period was
programs and services offered to children and youth at risk for abuse or sexual
exploitation. For example, in 1998, the government of British Columbia developed the
new British Columbia Handbook for Action on Child Abuse and Neglect, available online
at: The handbook supports professionals and
volunteers to work together to prevent, recognize and respond to abuse and neglect
appropriately. Over 40,000 copies of the handbook were distributed, and an interdisciplinary training program was developed and delivered to over 2,000 participants
across the province.
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In 1995, the province introduced an interactive workshop specifically focusing on the
risks of sexual exploitation facing British Columbia youth. Presented to public schools in
the Vancouver area, it explores the dangers of street life and the recruitment processes
used to lure youth into the sex trade. The workshop entitled If It’s Too Good to be True,
includes monologues, interactive discussions, and theatre games to explore the issues of
sexual exploitation with students.
The following year heralded the creation of an inter-ministry committee on prostitution
and sexually exploited youth as well as the opportunity to co-host, with the United
Nations, the International Summit on Sexually Exploited Youth. The conference, Out of
the Shadows and Into the Light (, brought
together delegates from around the world to discuss the issues and attempt to fashion
solutions to the problem of the sexual exploitation of children and youth.
In 1997, the Government of British Columbia reaffirmed its commitment to work toward
solutions to the problem of sexual exploitation of youth by allocating $4.8 million for
new youth services across the province. The new resources included the provision of
new safe housing for sexually exploited youth in four cities in British Columbia
(Victoria, Prince George, Kelowna and New Westminster/Burnaby). As well,
25 additional youth outreach and support workers were hired to assist high-risk youth
leave the street and/or the sex trade.
Safeguarding the rights of children in care
In 1999, the province developed and distributed a video called Know Your Rights: A
Guide for Young People in Care. The companion guide is available online at It is mandatory to show these
materials to every child entering care. The guide explains young people’s rights, the
supports available to them, and who to turn to for help. An age-appropriate colouring
book was developed to assist younger children in care to understand their rights.
At the same time, a brochure entitled When You Disagree: Making a Complaint to the
Ministry for Children and Families was developed explaining the complaints process to
children taken into care. It is available online at Another was produced for parents,
which is also available online at: These brochures
include contact information for the Child, Youth, and Family Advocate and for the
Advocate for Service Quality for People with Developmental Disabilities who can help
parties file complaints.
In conjunction with the Legal Services Society, which provides Legal Aid services in
British Columbia, a list of lawyers skilled in providing independent legal advice to
children and youth was compiled in 1998. The primary role of these lawyers is to
provide advice to children who are considering whether to consent to a court order
applied for under the Child, Family and Community Services Act as well as to youth in
ministry care who are considering whether to place their babies up for adoption.
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A brochure, When You Need a Lawyer: Information for Children and Youth on
Independent Legal Advice (available online at, was developed in 1998. The brochure
outlines to young people what happens in court, how a court decision could affect their
lives, and how to get proper legal advice. It was distributed to all child and family
service offices and to related community-based agencies throughout the province.
Child labour
The Employment Standards Act prohibits the employment of children under the age of
15, unless the Standards Branch grants special permission to do so. If such permission is
given, the Director may set specific terms and conditions of employment in order to
protect the child. The majority of permits are granted for children employed in the film
industry or seasonal fruit-picking in orchards. In 1994-1995, 441 permits were granted,
and in 1995-1996, the number dropped to 401.
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
Broadly speaking, British Columbians enjoy a high standard of living. Throughout the
reporting period, Canada ranked first in the United Nations’ quality of life survey under
the Human Development Index. Within Canada, British Columbia holds a very
favourable position as one of its wealthiest provinces.
While most people in British Columbia enjoy a high quality of life, single parent families,
families relying on social assistance, and off-reserve Aboriginal families are more likely
to experience hunger. Data compiled from the 1994 National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth shows that single parent families headed by women are the most
In order to address this issue, the province continued its commitment to the School Meals
Program established in 1991. Over the course of the reporting period, the program
expanded such that free lunches were provided to children in over 300 schools across
British Columbia. It provides nutritious meals for children who may not be getting
enough nourishment at home.
In 1994, an evaluation of the program was carried out. It was found that both students
and teachers were extremely happy with the program. Teachers recorded improvements
in student health, classroom behaviour, happiness, well-being, and improved knowledge
of nutrition as a result of participation in the program.
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A related program is the Inner City School Program. It supports children at risk of
leaving school or who are having difficulties participating at school due to factors such as
poverty and hunger. Specific programs are tailored to communities and are designed to
develop the social skills and confidence needed by children and youth in order to function
successfully in society.
The BUY BC program was established to promote the purchase of local and seasonal
foods (see BUY BC online at: Other initiatives include
hosting the nutritious food basket, supporting community kitchens, community gardens,
food buying clubs, good food bags, community-assisted agriculture, farmers’ markets,
and food policy councils. All are designed to promote healthy economical eating habits.
Under the Growth Strategies Statutes Amendment Act, enacted in 1995, British Columbia
introduced a new planning tool, the regional growth strategy, and established the
framework for the preparation and implementation of these strategies by regional districts
across the province. The regional growth strategy has the explicit purpose of promoting
socially, economically, and environmentally healthy human settlements which make
efficient use of public facilities and services, land, and other resources. As of
September 1999, two Regional Growth Strategies had been adopted in the Greater
Vancouver Regional District and in the Nanaimo Regional District, which together
accounted for 52.7 percent of BC’s population at that time. The Municipal Act (now
titled Local Government Act), which describes the regional growth strategies, is available
online, at (see Part 25).
British Columbia’s amendments to the Municipal Act contained in the Local Government
Statutes Amendments Acts gave local governments more powers respecting the
construction of non-profit and social housing. For example, a local government can now
provide assistance to a non-profit housing group by guaranteeing repayment of its
borrowings. Local governments can also now provide aid by reducing or waiving
development cost charges for not-for-profit rental housing. A development cost charge is
exacted to pay for infrastructure such as roads, sidewalks, sewers, schools, and parks, and
can ordinarily not be waived or reduced. See sections 181 and 183 of the Municipal Act
regarding the assistance local governments can provide.
There were other legislative changes to afford greater flexibility to local governments in
the development of housing policy. In 1997, the province amended the Vancouver
Charter through the Vancouver Charter Amendment Act to give the City of Vancouver
the power to regulate the conversion or destruction of single-room accommodations,
including the power to establish conditions for a permit, such as one-for-one replacement,
and to refuse authorization for conversion or demolition if a permit is not obtained.
To further assist local governments to encourage and facilitate affordable housing, rental
housing and special needs housing, the Housing Policy Branch prepared a series of
educational materials on effectively addressing housing issues. Publications include
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Local Responses to Homelessness: A Planning Guide for BC Communities; Supportive
Housing for Seniors: A Policy and Bylaw Guide; Planning for Housing; Impact of NonMarket Housing on Property Values; and a report summarizing private rental housing
trends in the province. These publications are available online at:
In terms of operational policies, it is the British Columbia Housing Management
Commission (BC Housing) which has responsibility for the delivery of the province’s
social housing programs. BC Housing’s mandate is to facilitate the provision of secure,
well-managed, affordable housing. In fulfilling its mandate, BC Housing:
works with non-profit societies, co-operatives, other government ministries and
development resource groups to create new housing options;
administers agreements and manages the flow of subsidies for housing built under a
variety of programs;
works with other government ministries to provide management support for group
homes and special needs residences, as well as co-ordination of the development of
new group homes across the province;
provides direct management for public housing;
maintains an applicant registry and allocates housing according to applicant need and
the availability of suitable accommodation; and
delivers targeted rent supplements and other housing assistance programs such as
SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) Program for seniors and SILP (Supported
Independent Living Program) for persons with mental illness. Information on each of
these programs is available online at:
To explain some of the programs mentioned as part of BC Housing’s mandate, the
province, through the SAFER Program, provides direct cash assistance to senior citizens,
age 60 and over, who pay more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent. The
$21 million budget provides assistance to 12,500 seniors annually.
SILP is a program whereby BC Housing subsidizes the rent of mentally ill tenants living
in private rental accommodation up to 30 percent of their gross income. Under this same
program, non-profit organizations provide support services. As of March 1999, BC
Housing was providing 1,110 individuals with SILP rent subsidies.
Since 1994, the provincial government has provided funding for more than 7,100 new
housing units through HOMES BC, the provincial housing program. It is expected that
these new units will be home for 15,000 British Columbians.
The government also offered support to newcomers to British Columbia by funding the
Tenants' Rights Action Coalition (TRAC) to offer public legal education workshops to
assist recent immigrants and refugees living in unsafe and unhealthy buildings. Training
and ongoing assistance to settlement workers and agencies is also provided.
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Other housing programs included funding registered non-profit societies to develop and
operate emergency shelters, safe homes, and transition houses. These offer room and
board in a safe and supportive environment to women and children in a crisis situation.
British Columbia housing policies specifically address youth in care or former youth in
care, who entered into Youth Agreements with the province under the Child, Family and
Community Service Act. In 1999, the Ministry for Children and Families committed to
ensuring that every youth who entered into a Youth Agreement received appropriate
funding for safe and affordable housing in his or her particular community. By way of
explanation, a youth agreement is a legal agreement between a youth and the Ministry for
Children and Families. The purpose of the agreement is to help the youth gain
independence, return to school, and/or gain work experience and life skills.
As well, provision has been made for temporary accommodation. The government
contracts with hostels in order that short-term accommodation is available for transient
single persons and couples without children.
Finally, the British Columbia housing policy supports the first time homebuyer. In 1994,
the province introduced the First Time Home Buyers’ program, which exempts qualified
homebuyers from paying the property transfer tax, a land registration tax that is normally
payable when an application is made at any Land Title Office in British Columbia to
register changes to a certificate of title.
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
British Columbia’s health care system
The founding principles of medicare, namely universality, comprehensiveness,
accessibility, portability, and public administration, were entrenched in the British
Columbia Medicare Protection Act. The Act, the first of its kind, was introduced in 1995
in order to preserve a publicly managed and fiscally sustainable health care system in
which access is based only on need. The Act prohibits physicians from extra-billing
British Columbia for any of the health services covered by Medicare. The Act is
available online at (see sections 2
and 18).
In order to further ensure that income does not limit the access of British Columbians to
publicly funded health care, the Ministry of Health provides Medical Services Plan
premium assistance to lower income British Columbians. In 1998, the net income ceiling
to qualify for various subsidy levels available was increased. This enhancement resulted
in thousands more British Columbians receiving subsidization. As of March 1999,
29 percent of British Columbia residents were receiving some level of assistance with
their health care premiums.
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The structure of the province’s health care system began in 1993-1994 with an emphasis
on regional decision-making and service delivery. A simpler streamlined approach to
this regionalization model was announced in 1996. The “Better Teamwork, Better Care”
approach reduced the layers of bureaucracy and administration by cutting the total
number of health authorities to 45 from 102 under the old model. The simplified
regionalization model provided for an accelerated transfer of most health care decision
making from the Ministry of Health to the regional health authorities beginning
April 1, 1997 and completed by October 1 that same year.
Responsibility for direct delivery and management of most health care services was
transferred from the Ministry of Health to 11 Regional Health Boards, 34 Community
Health Councils, and seven Community Health Services Societies across the province.
Regional Health Boards have the responsibility to deliver a full range of health services
except those services which have remained in the purview of the province such as the
Centre for Disease Control (the Provincial Laboratory), the Cancer Agency and
Emergency Health (Ambulance) Service. Community Health Services Societies work in
partnership with Community Health Councils to oversee the delivery of health care in
rural areas where Regional Health Boards do not exist.
While most health services are governed and managed regionally, the Ministry of Health
retains ultimate authority and responsibility for British Columbia’s publicly administered
health care system. The Ministry of Health funds the health authorities and monitors,
evaluates, and supports their performance in governing and managing health care
services. The Ministry of Health retains responsibility for the Medical Services Plan,
Pharmacare, Vital Statistics, and the British Columbia Ambulance Service.
To provide an idea of the level of resources committed to the health care system in
British Columbia, in 1998-1999, the Ministry of Health budget was $7.4 billion or
roughly 31 percent of total government spending. This represents an increase of roughly
33 percent since 1991-1992.
The health of British Columbians: a snapshot
Almost half (42) of the 93 indicators used in the Provincial Health Officer’s 1999 Annual
Report to monitor the health of British Columbians, showed an improvement over
previous reports. On traditional measures such as infant mortality, and life expectancy,
British Columbia continues to make progress. Education levels and employment, key
factors that affect health, are also showing improvement. The number of people on
income assistance has been declining since 1995. Similarly, crime rates have dropped,
more people are volunteering in their communities, fewer teenaged women are becoming
pregnant, and more British Columbians are adopting safe practices such as wearing
bicycle helmets. Fewer people are exposed to second hand tobacco smoke, fewer are
dying from heart disease and injuries, and the elimination of certain diseases such as
gonorrhea appears imminent.
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The data also revealed challenges that lie ahead for British Columbia’s health care
system. Thirty-nine indicators did not show appreciable improvement, and six worsened.
Many families were showing signs of distress, as measured by increasing reported rates
of child abuse, increased numbers of children and youth in government care, and
increased incidence of heavy drinking. Diabetes, asthma, and allergies were also on the
rise. Increasing reliance on fossil fuel powered vehicles is damaging the global
atmosphere, threatening the health of future generations. Other problems include
inadequate levels of physical activity, obesity, the rate of low weight babies, a disquieting
number of illicit drug overdose deaths, and the incidence and prevalence of mental
With respect to traditional measures of health, gains have been made. Life expectancy
continued to increase for both men and women. On average, since the 1950s, life
expectancy has increased for both sexes by about 10 years to 77.2 for men and 82.6 years
for women.
Prevention of deaths of infants and youths has helped add years to life. Gains have also
been made in the health of older British Columbians. At age 65, a woman can expect to
live another 21 years, while a man will live another 17 years. This represents a four to
five year increase since the 1950s.
In spite of steady improvement, gaps in life expectancy still persist among certain regions
and certain segments of society. For example, status Indians are the most disadvantaged
group, with an average life expectancy of 10 years less than other British Columbia
Regionally, higher levels of health are found in the southern part of British Columbia.
Northern regions, which are less urbanized, have the poorest health. However, the gap
between the two regions has been narrowing. Over the reporting periods, improvements
were noted in infant mortality and life expectancy in northern communities, so levels of
health are beginning to converge.
Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates
During the reporting period, virtually 100 percent of pregnant British Columbians had
access to trained medical personnel during pregnancy and delivery. Consequently, the
maternal mortality rate was very low. There were only two pregnancy-related deaths:
one in 1996 and the other in 1998.
Similarly, during the reporting period, virtually 100 percent of British Columbian infants
had access to trained medical personnel. The infant mortality rates from 1995-1999
calculated as the number of deaths of children under 1 year per 1,000 population were:
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Year Infant Morality
As mentioned earlier, the Ministry of Health has noted variances in infant morality rates
based on region and segment of society. Status Indians have a higher than average infant
mortality rate: between 1991-1998, one out of every seven infant deaths in British
Columbia was a Status Indian child. In total, there were 274 Status Indian deaths in this
eight-year period, resulting in an infant mortality rate of 11.3 or roughly double the rate
for non-Aboriginal British Columbians. While Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
populations experienced similar mortality patterns for newborns in the neonatal period
(up to 27 days after birth), the Status Indian population had a higher mortality rate in the
post-neonatal period (28 to 364 days after birth). Sudden Infant Death Syndrome was the
cause of death for 104 of the 178 Status Indian infants who died in the post-neonatal
Improvements in infant mortality rates amongst Aboriginal children have been noted.
For example, in 1991, there were 44 infant deaths while in 1998, there were 14. In 1998,
the infant mortality rate for Status Indians plunged to 4.6 per 1,000 live births, just
slightly above the global average of 4.03.
Deaths from perinatal complications include those involving obstetric complications,
immaturity, birth asphyxia, and respiratory distress syndrome. There were 69 Status
Indian deaths from perinatal conditions from 1991-1998, which translated into an AgeStandardized Mortality Rate of 0.4 per 10,000 standard population. This figure was
slightly above the rate recorded for other residents of the province at 0.3.
Environmental and industrial hygiene
In general, British Columbia’s drinking water is abundant, clean, and safe to drink. From
time to time and in certain locations, the quality of drinking water falls below acceptable
standards. In late 1999, there were 214 boil-water advisories, affecting 7 percent of
British Columbia’s 2,981 drinking water systems. The 214 unsafe water supplies served
approximately 1 percent of the provincial population.
In the 1998-1999 fiscal year, the Office of the Auditor General released a report on
protecting drinking water sources. The Ministry of Health began working with agencies
identified in the report as having an interest in water quality to ensure that safe drinking
water continued to be a priority for the government.
Almost 100 percent of the population has access to adequate excreta disposal facilities.
Twenty-five percent use on-site sewage systems (septic tank and tile field), and sewers
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serve the remaining 75 percent. More than 95 percent of the population served by sewer
systems are public systems operated by municipal governments.
The treatment, reuse, and disposal of sewage is authorized through permits, Liquid Waste
Management Plans, or the Municipal Sewage regulation which came into force in 1999.
Between 1994 and 1999, the development of 21 Liquid Waste Management Plans were in
progress, accounting for approximately 75 percent of British Columbia’s population.
Prevention, treatment, and control of epidemic, endemic, and other diseases
In British Columbia, infants are routinely immunized against eight different diseases.
Vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and Haemophyllus influenza B are
available to all children, starting at two months and are given again at four, six, and
18 months. At 12 and 18 months, children are immunized against measles, mumps, and
rubella. More than 80 percent of children in British Columbia are immunized by the time
they reach their second birthday.
It is recognized, however, that there are regional variations in immunization coverage.
Generally, Richmond and the Thompson regions consistently have high immunization
rates approaching the national target of 97 percent. Other regions such as the Fraser
Valley, North Okanagan, Peace Liard, and North West have immunization rates that fall
below 80 percent. For some areas, immunizations statistics are not yet available. Plans
for a province-wide immunization registry were initiated to help deal with this problem.
Advances during the reporting period include the launch of a second dose measles
immunization program at schools and clinics. The program was aimed at all children
from 19 months to 17 years (or the end of high school).
In addition, in 1997-1998, government began to offer an improved pertussis vaccine to
ensure increased protection for thousands of children. That same year brought additional
hepatitis B vaccines for thousands of Grade 12 students. As well, the year also marked a
notification program advising people who had received blood transfusions before
June 1990 to be tested for hepatitis C so that they could seek appropriate treatment and
take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease if found positive for the disease.
In 1998-1999, the province initiated publicly funded pneumococcal immunizations for all
those 65 and over. In addition, the hepatitis A immunization program was expanded
resulting in a significant reduction in the overall number of cases. Finally, in this same
time period, an immunization program was initiated for injection drug users and those
with hepatitis C.
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Tobacco use remained the single most important preventable cause of illness and death in
British Columbia. More than one in five British Columbians is a smoker, and roughly
20 children start smoking every day. Across the province, smoking rates range from
17 percent to 29 percent. During 1998-1999, British Columbia greatly expanded its
efforts to reduce tobacco use and its related illnesses. Steps taken included tougher
enforcement measures aimed at retailers, testing and reporting on contents of tobacco and
smoke, school-based prevention programs, and consultations with Aboriginal
communities in preparation for an Aboriginal tobacco reduction strategy.
Second hand smoke exposure has a significant impact on people’s health at work, in
public places, and at home. The Workers’ Compensation Board established a new
regulation, which came into effect in April 1998, which prohibited workplace exposure to
second hand smoke. Just one year previous, the government introduced the Tobacco
Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act, unique in Canada, aimed at making the
tobacco industry pay for the health care costs of tobacco-related illnesses such as cancer,
heart disease, and stroke. In January 1998, the Province initiated a lawsuit against the
Canadian tobacco industry.
Structural improvements
A new building for British Columbia’s Centre for Disease Control, which will allow the
Centre to better service the health needs of British Columbians was opened in 1997. The
Centre works to control communicable diseases in the province through epidemiological
analysis, provincial laboratory services, and prevention programs.
Also in 1997, the government established the HIV/AIDS Division of the Ministry of
Health to ensure that a range of HIV/AIDS services is available across British Columbia.
The Division provides leadership and guides the implementation of British Columbia’s
Framework for Action on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with key stakeholders, including
representatives from the HIV/AIDS community, health authorities, and the province. The
Division administers funds totalling over $11 million for community based HIV/AIDS
services provided by over 50 HIV/AIDS organizations and needle exchanges. These
services include needle exchanges, street outreach programs, HIV/AIDS service
organizations for youth, women, and ethnic minorities providing food, housing, hospice,
and respite for people living with AIDS and their caregivers.
Responding to challenges: improvements to British Columbia’s health care
In 1994, the province directed the Provincial Health Officer to undertake a wide
consultation process in order to develop health goals and objectives that would reflect
British Columbians’ understanding of the social, economic, and environmental factors
that affect health. A multi-sector advisory committee, chaired by the Provincial Health
Officer, was set up to guide the development of objectives, recommend strategies, and
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monitor and report on the progress of these health goals. After extensive public
consultation, the following health goals were approved in 1998:
positive and supportive living and working conditions in all communities in British
opportunities for all individuals to develop and maintain the capacities and skills
needed to thrive and meet life’s challenges and to make choices that enhance health;
a diverse and sustainable physical environment with clean, healthy, and safe air,
water, and land;
an effective and efficient health service system that provides equitable access to
appropriate services;
improved health care for Aboriginal people; and
reduction of preventable illness, injuries, disabilities, and premature deaths.
Aboriginal people
With respect to Aboriginal people, the consultations revealed that Aboriginal British
Columbians continued to be challenged by the poorest health status among identified
populations. Among the barriers to improving health, Aboriginal British Columbians
have consistently identified a lack of access to services, the lack of meaningful
participation or control in service delivery, and the absence of working relationships with
health care providers.
A meeting of Aboriginal stakeholders determined that a Provincial Aboriginal Health
Services Strategy in British Columbia must be developed to improve the health of
Aboriginal people to harmonize their health status with that of other British Columbians.
To achieve these goals, the stakeholders established a steering committee to develop
recommendations that would improve access to health care, increase Aboriginal
involvement in decision-making and planning for health services, and promote working
relationships among Aboriginal communities, governments, health authorities, and other
stakeholders. In 1998-1999, the Ministry of Health developed a framework for a
Provincial Aboriginal Health Services Strategy, which will be developed jointly with the
Aboriginal community.
Some concrete improvements in this regard include the provision of $250,000 worth of
funding to the Prince George Native Friendship Centre for the renovation of its building.
The Friendship Centre will assist in the delivery of health care programs. People using
the Centre will be able to receive general health information as well as more specialized
services such as drug and alcohol counselling, traditional spiritual counselling, sexual
abuse prevention information, and support services to assist in raising healthy babies.
Rural health services
Steps were also taken during this reporting period to address the disparity in health care
status between rural and urban centres in British Columbia. The Office of Primary and
Rural Health Services was created in 1998 to improve British Columbia’s primary health
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care system and to bring a ministerial focus to provincial rural and remote health care
issues. Working jointly with other stakeholders and other inter-ministerial departments,
the office will co-ordinate policies, legislation, programs, and initiatives within the
context of a regionalized health care system.
The Office of Primary and Rural Health Services works with the Provincial Coordinating
Committee on Remote and Rural Health Services. The latter organization was also
established in 1998 to provide a cross-jurisdictional forum for stakeholders to share
information and ideas on health care delivery in rural and remote communities and to
coordinate information and actions on health care delivery in these communities. The
Committee is mandated to make recommendations to the Deputy Minister of Health on
issues regarding the provision of health care services to remote and rural communities.
As part of this ongoing commitment to improve access to health care in remote and rural
areas, the province announced new initiatives to relieve pressures on health care services
in British Columbia’s hard to serve areas. These include expanding the northern and
rural locum program, expanding the northwest teleradiology project and the telehealth
physician consultation program, as well as adding new rural training opportunities for
physicians. Finally, a new physician outreach program has been introduced.
Primary health care
Other steps to improve the delivery of primary health care include the joint research
project between the provincial Ministry of Health and Health Canada. The Primary Care
Demonstration, launched in September 1999, is to test innovative ways of funding and
delivering primary health care. The goal of the project is to develop and assess new
mechanisms aimed at making service delivery more responsive to patient needs while
also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.
Children and youth
Special attention was paid to improving the health of British Columbia’s children and
youth. In April 1996, the Healthy Kids program, administered under BC Benefits, was
introduced to provide up to $500 annually for dental and optical care for eligible children
aged 12 and under in low-income families. As of January 1997, dental coverage
increased to $700 per child and was extended to all children 18 and under in eligible
families. Vision care benefits, which include basic eyeglasses, also became available to
all children 18 and under in eligible families.
In the following year, the government released a plan to reduce injuries among children
and youth. The plan was developed in consultation with more than 150 stakeholder
groups and recommended injury prevention targets for children and youth aged 0 to
24 years. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for this age group. To
support the plan, $250,000 in new funding was approved for injury prevention research.
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In 1997-1998, the Ministry for Children and Families initiated a suicide prevention
initiative, since suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 15-24 years.
Suicide prevention activities included:
development of a Provincial Framework document to promote a better understanding
of the issue of youth suicide;
distribution of the Manual of Best Practices in Youth Suicide Prevention that
specifically highlights mental health promotion, prevention, and early intervention
implementation and evaluation of seven locations participating in community risk
prevention activities with schools
production of a newsletter, Lifenotes, distributed to over 1,000 agencies and
individuals in British Columbia; and
development of clinical parameters for suicide intervention to assist mental health
At the same time, the Ministry for Children and Families, in partnership with the Ministry
of Health, also initiated an Early Psychosis Identification and Intervention program. This
innovation was also meant to assist youth struggling with mental health issues.
This work continued in 1999 when the province began to develop a Child and Youth
Mental Health Plan for British Columbia to guide the evolution of child and youth mental
health services. The Plan provides a policy framework document, a description of the
mandate of child and youth mental health services, and an action plan to assist in more
effectively delivering mental health services.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the government began work on a comprehensive
continuing care strategy to help it and local decision makers respond to the health needs
of British Columbia’s growing disabled and aging populations. A report entitled
Community for Life: Review of Continuing Care Services (available online at: was released in the fall of 1999 and provided
policy advice and recommendations to the provincial Ministry of Health and health
authorities on how to manage and deliver quality continuing care services.
Mental health
Improvements were made to mental health services as well. Following consultations
with mental health stakeholders, the Ministry of Health released its Revitalizing and
Rebalancing British Columbia’s Mental Health System: the 1998 Mental Health Plan,
available online at: The aim of the Plan was to
promote cooperation among health authorities, relevant government entities, and other
stakeholders to support the development of comprehensive, integrated regional mental
health care systems for British Columbians with the most serious and disabling mental
illnesses, for their families, and for the communities in which they live.
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The 1998 Plan will be implemented over seven years. The Ministry of Health announced
a $5.7 million package of programs to support the Plan, including expansion of
community mental health services, intensive community support for people with mental
illness, and relief of pressure on emergency and acute care psychiatric facilities.
Advances have also been made with respect to providing culturally sensitive health care.
In 1995-1997, the province funded the Multicultural Change in Health Care Services
project, a two-year $250,000 initiative involving 22 hospitals and centres in Greater
Vancouver to assist them to develop culturally responsive health services for the growing
cultural diversity of the community. Provincial conferences on inclusive health care and
cultural diversity have also been supported.
Finally, general health education programs were established in this reporting period.
Partnerships for Better Health, a two-year health education pilot project designed to
examine the effectiveness of putting health information directly in the hands of
individuals, got underway in 1997. Results after the first year showed a high readership
of the self-care materials with the majority of participants indicating an increase in
knowledge and confidence in dealing with minor health care problems through self-care.
Article 13: Right to Education
Primary and secondary education (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
The government of British Columbia funds a public system of education that spans from
Kindergarten to Grade 12, covering students from age 5 to age 17. Some provincial
funds are also available for most independent schools. Sources for these funds are both
provincial revenues as well as transfer payments from the federal government.
Each year, the province allocates these joint monies in the form of provincial grants to
school districts for public education. Allocation is achieved through a series of
calculations known as the funding allocation system. This system is based on relative
costs for providing education at the district level. Supplemental funding to cover capital
costs and other specific programs is also provided.
It should also be noted that not only is primary and secondary education free in British
Columbia, it is mandatory to Grade 10. That is to say, the earliest a youth may decide to
abandon his or her studies is at age 16.
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Schools in British Columbia are organized into approximately 60 school districts, each
governed by elected school boards. It is the role of each school board to manage schools
in their district cost-effectively and in accordance with the School Act. They are also
responsible for setting education policies that reflect the needs and wishes of the
community and that are consistent with overall provincial guidelines.
The following statistics provide a snapshot of the primary and secondary education
systems in British Columbia for the 1997-1998 fiscal year:
Enrolment in British Columbia’s public and independent schools stood at
690,000 students.
There were 60 school boards.
There were 38,126 teachers who worked across 1,737 public schools.
There were 3,764 teachers working in 350 independent schools.
Completion Rates
One of the traditional measures of success of an education system is its completion or
graduation rate. In 1994-1995, the completion rate, which is the percentage of students
who were in Grade 8 five years earlier who were expected to graduate “on time,” was
69 percent in the regular secondary school system. This 1994-1995 rate was higher than
in any previous year.
In addition to those students who completed high school through regular programs, a
further 9 percent obtained alternate high school completion certificates. The majority of
alternative certificates granted in 1994-1995 were General Educational Development
Certificates. The General Educational Development program is open to adult residents of
British Columbia who have been out of a school system for at least one year and who
have not graduated from a secondary school. In essence, it is a high school equivalency
When the attainment of alternate high school certificates is considered along with other
traditional paths to graduation, high school level completion in British Columbia in 19941995 approximated 78 percent. This figure showed a slight improvement over the five
years previous to that.
Over the reporting period, British Columbia’s completion rate with respect to primary
and secondary schools continued to rise. By 1997-1998, the completion rate for students
receiving a Dogwood diploma, the marker of traditional high school graduation, reached
over 72 percent. Alternative high school credentials accounted for another 7 percent of
student completions, bumping the total completion rate up to approximately 83 percent.
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By 1998-1999, the Dogwood diploma completion rate had climbed another 3 percent to
75 percent, continuing the positive trend.
Improving access
A wide range of social, geographic and economic factors influence student performance
in school. One of the greatest challenges to British Columbia’s school system is
responding to conditions of disadvantage in order to give every child an equal
opportunity to succeed.
Barriers to education include hunger, language deficiencies, disabilities, family
instability, racism, and sexism. For example, it is well recognized that Aboriginal
students have much lower completion rates than their non-Aboriginal counterparts. In
fact, during the reporting period, the completion rate for Aboriginal students was roughly
half that of non-Aboriginal students. Students whose first language is not English also
have lower graduation rates.
Various initiatives were implemented during the reporting period to improve access to
British Columbia’s primary and secondary education systems:
In 1994-1995, Aboriginal education programs were expanded to 65 school districts.
Over 92 percent of Aboriginal students enrolled in British Columbia’s public
education system participated in these programs.
Also in 1994-1995, the government implemented a number of Aboriginal educational
initiatives including band/school district curriculum partnerships, a CD-ROM culture
awareness initiative, an Aboriginal education computer network, staff development
training, development of a British Columbia First Nations Studies 12 curriculum, and
a First Nations learning resource database.
The Kids at Risk Initiative was implemented in 1994-1995. This was a series of pilot
projects designed to integrate social and educational services at the school and
community level to better serve the unique needs of students at risk.
The School Meal Program was expanded to serve 31 new schools. The Inner City
Schools Program expanded to 37 new schools during 1994-1995.
In 1994-1995, English as a Second Language funding increased to $73.6 million up
from $58.2 million in 1993-1994.
Special Education programs designed to meet the unique education needs of both the
disabled and the academically gifted were improved in 1994-1995. Education
resources and services that facilitated learning for students with special needs
included Special Education technology centres, a provincial resource centre for the
visually impaired, and specialized programs for students in hospitals and correctional
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In 1996-1997, over $570 million was budgeted to improve equity of access in the
Special Education, Francophone, English as a Second Language, and Aboriginal
In 1998-1999, Kindergarten classes were reduced from as high as 26 students to a
maximum of 20, the first step in a five-year plan that will see primary school classes
(kindergarten to Grade 3) averaging 18 students or fewer. Smaller classes mean more
individual attention and support for students during the critical early years of
To accommodate smaller classes, over 500 teachers were hired in 1998-1999.
Also in 1998-1999, electronically distributed programs for home-based schooling
under the supervision of school districts or distance education schools were planned
in 18 sites across British Columbia. Seventeen of these sites became operational and
were evaluated in late 1999. The evaluation will help determine future delivery,
programming, and mechanisms for future evaluations.
Other achievements
This section provides information on capital expenditures, new school construction, and
accessibility of structures. Over the reporting period, the following advances have been
In 1994-1995, there were 20 new or replacement schools creating 7,750 student
spaces, as well as 44 additions or renovations creating 6,125 spaces.
In 1994-1995, only 57 percent of public schools were accessible to people with
disabilities. Between 18 and 28 projects were completed in that year, funded on a
demonstrated needs priority base, in order to meet the long-term goal of ensuring that
all schools are fully accessible.
In 1997-1998, there were 20 new schools, additions and renovations to existing
schools across 13 separate school districts, representing an expenditure of nearly
$212 million.
In the last fiscal year of the reporting period, 1998-1999, the province expended
$411 million in capital funding to create 15,975 new student spaces and reduce the
number of portable classrooms in the province. Upon completion of the new space
construction projects, 514 portables will be eliminated.
Throughout the reporting period, the province has spent approximately 4 percent of its
gross domestic product or $4 billion on education expenditures for its primary and
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secondary education systems. Government expenditures on education, at approximately
19 percent of the total provincial budget, were surpassed only by those in health care.
British Columbia’s Expenditures on Primary and Secondary Education (1994-1999)
$3,800,000,000* $3,858,818,512
* This is an approximate figure.
Post-secondary education
British Columbia’s post-secondary system is comprised of 29 institutions, including
universities, university colleges, colleges, technical institutes, and the Open Learning
Agency (OLA). This latter body offers a range of college and university-level programs
leading to certificates, diplomas, and degrees, and it works in partnership with other postsecondary institutions to provide distance learning. OLA operates Knowledge Network,
a television channel with a mandate to provide educational programming to the general
public. It also co-ordinates the International Credential Evaluation Service and the
education “Credit Bank,” which assesses and gives credit for previous formal and nonformal learning.
Structural changes
In the spring of 1998, the Ministry of Education was split into two separate ministries.
The Ministry of Education covered Kindergarten to Grade 12 while the Ministry of
Advanced Education, Training, and Technology was responsible for post-secondary
education and training. This change has allowed the Ministry of Advanced Education,
Training, and Technology to direct its full attention to improving learning for postsecondary students.
The mandate of the newly formed ministry responsible for post-secondary institutions in
British Columbia is to ensure that all British Columbians have opportunities to develop
the skills and knowledge they need to live productive and fulfilling lives by contributing
to the economic, social, and cultural life of the province.
Higher education is not free in British Columbia nor in any jurisdiction in Canada.
However, it is subsidized. In an attempt to improve access to post secondary education,
the government introduced a tuition freeze in 1996-1997. For two semesters of full-time
study in an undergraduate Arts and Sciences program, the average tuition in British
Columbia was $1,970. This tuition level compared very favourably across Canada: only
Québec’s average tuition was lower at $1,670.
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The freeze remained in effect in 1997-1998. At that time, the gap between average
tuition in British Columbia and the Canadian average continued to widen: British
Columbia’s average tuition remained constant at $1,970 while the Canadian average
climbed to $2,850.
Access to post-secondary education
Approximately 40 percent of public high school graduates in 1997 met university
entrance requirements. At that time, entrance to most universities was based on a grade
point average of 2.5 (C+) or better on the average of English 12 and three other courses
acceptable to the university. Average university eligibility rates for students in 1997
varied among districts, ranging from a low of 16 percent to a high of 71.3 percent.
Of those who were eligible in 1997, roughly 17 percent of graduates aged 18-24 went on
to college and another 17.5 percent attended university. In fact, over 96,000 of British
Columbia’s youth aged 20-24 were enrolled in a college, institute, or university in the fall
of 1997, representing 40 percent of all British Columbians in that age group. Others
entered apprenticeships, enrolled at private training institutes, or studied at postsecondary institutions outside British Columbia.
Improving access
British Columbia has been successful at encouraging access to its higher education
system, and the increased access is reflected in the growing utilization rate. The
utilization rate is the number of students who actually attend a given institution as
opposed to budgetary projections of student enrolment used to calculate an institution’s
entitlement to provincial funding. Over the four years between 1995-1996 and 19981999, the utilization rate reached 103 percent meaning that actual student enrolment
surpassed budgetary planning levels.
That greater access has been achieved is witnessed by Statistics Canada data which
showed a 16 percent increase in full-time undergraduate and graduate students at British
Columbia universities from 1993-1994 to 1998-1999. Enrolment growth over the same
period in the rest of Canada was only 0.6 percent.
In order to keep pace with growth, the government increased the number of new student
places at public post-secondary education institutions by 2,900 in 1997-1998. Five
hundred of those 2,900 spaces were designated for high technology programs in response
to a Minister’s Summit on Software Industry Skills Shortages held in July 1997. These
2,900 new spaces built on the 7,000 spaces that were created in the previous year.
Aboriginal students
In May 1997, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training, and Technology began to
implement the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework. Its
purpose was to increase the participation and success rates of Aboriginal people in post-
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secondary education and training. The policy framework forms part of the strategic plan
for British Columbia’s college, university college, institute, and agency system. In
addition, universities and the Industry Training and Apprenticeship Commission have
adopted its intent.
To support this policy framework, the province has committed $3.8 million to Aboriginal
programs at the post-secondary level in the 1998-1999 fiscal year. These include: direct
support for 21 First Nations co-ordinators in public institutions in the province;
encouragement for the development of Aboriginal Advisory Committees in all postsecondary institutions in British Columbia; and continuing financial support through the
Aboriginal Special Project Fund for bridging, access, and other enhanced student support
Financial assistance
Access to student loans was also expanded. In 1997-1998, a change was made to the
British Columbia Student Assistance Program (BCSAP) to allow single parents one extra
year in which to complete their program and still qualify for loan remission. This was in
response to a gender impact analysis conducted by BCSAP in 1995-1996, which showed
that single parents, 82 percent of whom were women, were often unable to quality for
loan remission owing to delays in completing their study programs because of family
Levels of student assistance under BCSAP increased generally in this period. Total
awards for student loans increased to $132.68 million, while grants rose to
$49.33 million. These met the needs of more recipients, while increasing the level of
average awards to those recipients.
In addition, in 1998-1999, the province distributed more than $15 million in scholarships,
bursaries, awards, grants, and competitions to British Columbian high school graduates.
The awards and scholarships were designed to encourage achievement and assist students
to make the transition from high school to post-secondary education.
Mature students
Also during the reporting period, the government expanded access to post-secondary
institutions by mature students. For many older students, the prospect of having to start
at the beginning of formal education was not feasible in the face of family and work
responsibilities. As a consequence, the province introduced the Prior Learning
Assessment (PLA) which acknowledges the skills acquired by individuals through life
experiences and work. These experiences are credited to the students’ post-secondary
educational programs objectives and to course and program requirements. PLA is
designed to reduce the amount of time these students need to spend back at school.
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Funding for the PLA program totalled $790,000 in 1997-1998 and was provided to
25 post-secondary institutions. As a result, PLA opportunities were available to the
equivalent of 132 full-time students.
Other achievements
In 1997-1998, funding for capital projects totalled $71.7 million. The university
expenditure level was $30.8 million while the colleges’ and institutes’ was $40.9 million.
The most significant projects included:
constructing a child care addition for Langara College and the completion of a child
care facility at the Castlegar campus of Selkirk College;
renovating the campus at Royal Roads University; and
completing a shared facility for the David Thompson Secondary School and the
College of the Rockies. Sharing the facility is viewed as a cost-effective approach to
improving access and affordability to the post-secondary system.
Expenditure on capital projects totalled $80.8 million for the 1998-1999 fiscal year, with
$27.9 of that allocated to universities. These improvements included:
opening a new campus of the Northwest Community College in Hazelton. The new
campus provides space for 130 full-time student equivalents and will help meet the
enrolment needs of local First Nations people. The building offers four classrooms, a
computer lab, space for student services, and administrative facilities.
opening a new library at North Island College in Courtenay.
completing a major retro-fit of the Kamloops campus “C” Block of the Old Main
Building of the University College of the Cariboo, following the opening of the new
Applied Industrial Technology Centre. The retro-fit provided new space for office
administration, fine arts, and tourism programs.
beginning construction of the second phase of Kwantlen University College campus.
At completion, it is expected to accommodate an additional 1,000 full-time student
approving funding for a new joint campus in Merritt for the Nicola Valley Institute of
Technology and the University College of the Cariboo. The new campus will replace
leased spaces.
agreeing to build a new university called the Technical University of British
Columbia in Surrey. The focus of this university is to provide education in applied
technology field to enable students to succeed in a knowledge driven economy.
In 1998-1999, the budget for post-secondary education climbed to $1,059,911,654, up
2.1 percent from the previous year’s figure of $1,037,683,589.
British Columbia
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Adult education and literacy
The province removed all tuition fees for adult basic education (ABE) programs offered
at public post-secondary institutions in 1998. ABE provides access to preparatory
courses and skills, ranging from basic literacy to provincial and adult secondary school
completions, and leads to one or more of the following goals: further education,
employability skills, and life management skills. About 21,000 students use these
programs offered at colleges. Another 33,000 students take ABE offered by school
districts. These programs were already free.
For the 1998-1999 year, the province allocated $1.8 million for literacy activities in
British Columbia through a partnership programs between the Post Secondary Division
of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training, and Technology and the National
Literacy Secretariat of Human Resources Development Canada. Eighty-five projects
were funded for the year. The provincial portion helped fund the following:
a 1-800 toll free telephone line and referral services of Literacy BC;
regional literacy co-ordination in nine regions of the province; and
30 projects offering one-to-one literacy tutoring and literacy group activities in
British Columbian communities.
Independent schools
The province of British Columbia also provides choices for parents who do not wish their
children to attend schools within the public school system. The government provides
some funding to independent schools. For example, in 1997-1998, British Columbia
funded approximately 350 independent schools within the primary and secondary school
This choice extends to post-secondary institutions as well. Trinity Western University is
an example of a private university located in the Vancouver region.
Training and vocational opportunities
The province also funds Skills Development programs. The focus of these programs is to
assist clients’ entry into the workforce. Programs include the Youth Works/Welfare to
Work, Workplace-based Training, and Vocational Rehabilitation Services. These will be
explained in turn.
The Youth Works/Welfare to Work programs assist Youth Works and income assistance
recipients to improve their employability skills and thereby strengthen their attachment to
the labour market. The program began in January 1996. The scheme replaced income
assistance for youth aged 19 to 24 with a living allowance while at the same time
guaranteeing access to employability programs. Welfare to Work provides the same
programs to those aged 25 and over, subject to program availability. By 1997-1998, the
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programs assisted over 80,000 clients in moving off income assistance into further
training or employment.
Workplace-based Training places Youth Works and Welfare to Work clients into
employment positions that provide training, work experience, and the prospect of longterm employment. This program was implemented in 1996-1997.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) is designed to ensure that people with
permanent mental or physical disabilities have access to comprehensive training,
education, and employment opportunities. VRS facilitates the development of vocational
goals and training strategies that reflect the individual’s needs as well as the realities of
the competitive workforce. In 1996-1997, VRS provided services to over 6,000 British
Columbians with disabilities. In 1997-1998, that figure grew to 3,751 clients who
received direct services from vocational rehabilitation consultants and 5,907 clients who
received indirect services from contracted agencies.
A related program is the Public Service Training Program. This program provides British
Columbians with disabilities with the opportunity to pursue on-the-job training and
employment in the public service through placements in the public service. The Ministry
of Advanced Education, Training, and Technology reimburses the host ministry for
50 percent of the placement wages and benefits. In 1997-1998, there were 43 such
placements. Total program expenditures were $273,000.
Article 15: Right to Participate in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
British Columbia recognizes the significant contribution made by the arts and cultural
community to the life of the province and is committed to supporting and developing that
community. As a result, the province administers programs that assist community and
professional arts and cultural organizations as well as individual artists. In addition,
greater access to cultural and artistic experiences is encouraged throughout British
For example, British Columbia established the British Columbia Arts Council with a
mandate to:
provide support for arts and culture in British Columbia through public education and
research; award grants; and produce information on the Arts Council and the arts
culture in British Columbia generally;
provide persons and organizations with the opportunity to participate in the arts and
culture of British Columbia; and
provide an open, accountable, and neutrally administered process for managing funds
for British Columbia arts and culture.
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Program areas of the Arts Council include: media arts, museums, theatre, visual arts,
dance, and literary arts. Each year, the Council supports varied activities such as arts
festivals, arts training resources, and community arts development.
The government also supports the British Columbia Cultural Foundation whose aim is to
promote private sector investment in arts and culture. On behalf of the people of British
Columbia, the Foundation accepts donations, bequests, and gifts to develop arts and
cultural activities and facilities throughout the province.
The Foundation works closely with not-for-profit arts organizations and estate planners to
promote its mandate and to ensure tax advantages for prospective donors. The
Foundation accepts gifts from individuals and corporations and makes grants to
qualifying arts organizations and municipalities through British Columbia. The
Foundation supports endowments, special projects, and the acquisition, renovation, and
maintenance of capital property for arts and cultural activities.
Finally, the government has taken great pains to expand and diversify the cultural
industry sector. Targeted industries include film, video, multimedia, book and magazine
publishing, sound recording, and craft and design. Programs include:
Cultural Industry Associations Operating Assistance: Funding is available for
industry associations representing cultural industries, such as British Columbia’s
burgeoning film industry, to deliver services to members in order to strengthen and
advance the industry as a whole.
Cultural Industries Project Assistance: Assistance is available to develop and
implement projects that contribute to the stability, product quality, product awareness,
economic strength, and infrastructure of cultural industries. Professional training,
marketing and promotion, strategic planning, and demonstration projects are
examples of eligible initiatives. Eligible applicants are primarily industry
associations and cooperatives rather than individual firms.
Block Funding for Book Publishers: Funding is available to British Columbia book
publishers for books that contribute in an original and creative way to the
development of provincial or national arts and culture. Awards are based on the
number of eligible books and the professional excellence of an applicant’s publishing
program, as determined by the Publishing Advisory Committee, which consists of
five professionals active in the field of book publishing.
Music Industry Travel Assistance Program: Assistance is available to recording artists
and their business representatives to participate in performance touring or showcasing
initiatives, or to business representatives attending industry events, implemented in
conjunction with the release of a recorded sound project.
Film Production Tax Credit Programs: These programs are designed to offer
refundable corporate income tax credits based on labour expenditures incurred in
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producing eligible film and video productions. For example, the BC Production
Services Tax Credit offers an incentive of a refund of 11 percent of eligible labour
costs to B.C.-based film or video corporations that either own the copyright of the
production in question or has contracted with the copyright owner to render
production services.
Related agencies include the British Columbia Film Commission, which was established
in 1978. Its mandate is to market the services of British Columbia production, postproduction, and ancillary service companies to the national and international film and
television industry, and to promote the province as a filming location. The Commission’s
activities include international marketing, production/location services, community
liaison, and statistical compilation. The Commission works with regional and
community based film offices to market locations and facilities outside the Vancouver
In 1994, the government ensured free access to basic library service by passing the
Library Act. The Act requires all public libraries to provide free access to basic library
services for residents and electors in the area served. Basic public library services
include art prints, audiotapes, compact discs, books, Braille books and periodicals, CDROMs, computer diskettes, maps and charts, microforms, movies, music scores,
newspapers, pamphlets, periodicals, photographs, videotapes, video laser discs, and vinyl
In addition, British Columbia administered library grants from both government and
private sources to ensure free public access to the Internet and to electronic mail from
public libraries. In 1995 and 1996, these grants totalled $2.1 million.
Science and technology
British Columbia recognizes the importance of science and technology and has
maintained ongoing efforts to raise the profile of the science enterprise in the province.
The result is continuing scientific progress highlighted by accelerating growth of its hightech community, a continuing supply of highly qualified technical people to industry
sectors, and a public awareness of the value of science and technology in everyday life.
During the reporting period, British Columbia provided operations and programs grant
funding from a budget of approximately $25 million to support agencies, institutions and
community organizations gain access to and benefits from the science enterprise.
British Columbia has long been a leader in Canada in developing the science culture.
The Province continued implementing its Partners in Science Awareness Program, which
coordinates various initiatives at the individual, corporate and community levels that help
develop public appreciation and understanding of science and technology through such
activities as Regional Science Fairs, Scientists and Technologists in the Schools, and
including direct support of technical conferences that incorporate public venues for the
lay community. With changing annual themes (e.g. Inventors: The Spirit of Innovation;
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Technology at Work: Explore Careers; Discover the Scientist in You), promoted by
distribution of 90,000 booklets in comic-book format to primary and secondary schools
and event venues, British Columbia culminates its annual science culture programming
by celebrating the Festival of Science and Technology, a 10-day program of events
province-wide involving industry, community centres, shopping malls and in-class
project activities for primary and secondary school students.
British Columbia pursued international contacts and cooperation during the latter part of
the reporting period through the Science Council of British Columbia’s international
advisory board and memoranda of understanding with countries of the western Pacific for
collaboration in science activities. The Ocean Research Network for the Pacific, focusing
on the sustainability of the Pacific Ocean environment, received formal recognition
within the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation framework at the 1997 Canada APEC
Summit meeting.
Science World British Columbia, the HR Macmillan Space Centre, and the Vancouver
Aquarium developed the Engaging Science program to enhance the elementary school
science curriculum. From the time it was developed in 1996 until 2003 more than
50 percent of the province’s kindergarten to grade seven teachers have benefited from the
program. Teachers are provided with access to experts at the three institutions in the
areas of earth science, environmental science, life science and space science. They are
provided with classroom activities and teaching resources.
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Alberta’s human rights legislation, Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act,
was amended in 1996, to provide more effective legal remedies for social and economic
rights by adding additional grounds to the province’s human rights legislation: source of
income and family status. With the inclusion of family status, families are protected from
discrimination in the enumerated areas, e.g. tenancy, employment, and services.
Alberta endorsed the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Reform and Renewal’s
December 1995 Report to Premiers. The Report’s principles are similar to those of the
“Social policy must assure reasonable access to health, education and training,
income support and social services that meet Canadians’ basic needs.”
“Social policy must promote social and economic conditions which enhance selfsufficiency and well-being, to assist all Canadians to actively participate in economic
and social life.”
Alberta signed A Framework to Improve the Social Union for Canadians with the federal,
provincial and territorial governments on February 4, 1999. Governments agreed to the
principle, “Respect the equality, rights and dignity of all Canadian women and men and
their diverse needs.” Additional information on the Framework can be found in the
Introduction to this report.
Article 6: Right to Work
Establishment of the new Ministry
In May 1999, the new Ministry of Alberta Human Resources and Employment was
established with a new mandate to support the development of all Albertans so they can
contribute to and share more fully in the province’s prosperity. According to the 19992000 annual report, the Ministry’s mission statement is:
Alberta Human Resources and Employment contributes to the Alberta Advantage by
working with partners to:
Assist Albertans to reach their full potential in society and the economy
Foster safe, fair, productive, innovative workplaces
Support those in need.
Since 1994, Alberta Aboriginal Relations has provided approximately $1.5 million to
Aboriginal organizations and communities to support employment and training
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opportunities. Aboriginal organizations and communities are also eligible for grants,
programs and services available through other provincial departments. Two examples of
initiatives supported by Aboriginal Relations are the Métis Settlements Economic
Viability Study and the Sahpohtawahk Training Centre.
The Métis Settlements Economic Viability Study was a 3-year, $1 million project, with
the goal of creating strategies for each Métis Settlement to achieve improved and
sustainable economic viability. In addition to developing studies on the main sectors of
the settlements’ economies, the project examined the social, cultural and governance
structures that affect economic development on the settlements.
With funding from Aboriginal Relations, the Sahpohtawahk Training Centre in the
remote community of Fort Chipewyan was able to establish a comprehensive computer
lab. The lab enables the Centre to provide computer literacy programs to community
members of all ages.
Alberta Human Resources and Employment has a province-wide network of Career
Development and Labour Market Information Centers to provide labour market
information and career planning assistance. The Alberta Learning Information System
(ALIS) Web site informs users of occupational demands, educational requirements and
labour market information. As well, it helps users to explore career choices, access
student funding and educational information. The Job Order Bank Services provides
information on work opportunities, recruitment and employer assistance programs. The
Skills Development Program provides people with financial assistance to attend academic
upgrading, integrated training, English as a Second Language or apprenticeship
Of the jobs created in Alberta during 1995-2000, more than 60 percent required some
form of post-secondary learning. The Government of Alberta’s omnibus survey in 1998
showed that 72 percent of Aboriginal people, 47 percent of persons with disabilities and
75 percent of recent immigrants find employment. Alberta youth have a very high rate of
participation in school or the workforce. In 1998, the proportion of youth 15-19 years
attending school or participating in the workforce was 98.5 percent.
In December 1996, Alberta signed a Labour Market Development Agreement with the
Government of Canada. Effective April 1, 1997, Alberta assumed responsibility for the
design and delivery of employment/training programs and services to Employment
Insurance clients. Labour market programs and services provide clients with the skills
necessary to quickly re-enter the work force. In 1998-1999, over 100,000 Albertans
participated in Career Counselling and Group Workshops, Job Placement, SelfEmployment, Skills for Work, Training on the Job, Skills Training and Basic
Foundations Skills Training interventions.
People and Prosperity is Alberta’s cross government human resource strategy first
announced by the Premier in 1997. The goal is to ensure that all Albertans are ready to
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meet emerging workforce challenges and to achieve their personal and economic
potential. The four priority areas are:
meeting future skill and workforce demand
maximizing workforce effectiveness
providing children and youth with a strong foundation for the future, and
building vibrant and supportive communities.
In 1998, there were 30,000 registered apprentices in Alberta, the highest participation in
the system’s history. Youth Connections is a key component of the Alberta
government’s Youth Employment Strategy and is aimed at increasing youth employment
and ensuring that more young people have access to career training. The program was
first introduced as a pilot in Calgary and Edmonton in 1997 and has since been expanded
to 32 locations across the province.
Technical and vocational guidance
Career and Technology Studies (CTS) is an optional program designed for Alberta’s
secondary school students. As a program of choice, CTS helps junior and senior high
school students to:
develop skills they can apply in daily living now and in the future;
investigate career options and make effective career choices;
use technology (processes, tools and techniques) effectively and efficiently;
apply and reinforce learnings developed in other subject areas;
prepare for entry into the workplace or further learning.
The CTS program helps students to build basic employability skills and to develop in
areas such as problem solving and innovation, working with others and demonstrating
responsibility. Skills are developed through a “learning by doing” approach to course
content. Students also investigate and assess career options and post-secondary programs
and have opportunities to earn credentials recognized in the community, the workplace
and post-secondary institutions. Businesses can work in partnership with schools to
provide CTS instruction assistance and work experience for students.
Employment and training programs
Alberta Human Resources and Employment provides a variety of employment and
training programs designed to enhance the opportunities for individuals to obtain
meaningful full-time employment. For example, co-op programs alternate periods of
work experience with periods of higher education study, while the Summer Temporary
Employment Program (STEP) provides a similar opportunity in summer employment.
Alberta Human Resources and Employment may also hire post-secondary graduates on
internship programs. In each case, the programs are intended to help individuals find
work at the completion of their studies.
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Employment of older persons
According to the 1996 Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, 11.1 percent of Albertans
over the age of 65 considered themselves to be members of the workforce (17.6 percent
of males and 5.8 percent of females).
According to the 1999 Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, 10.7 percent of Albertans
over the age of 65 considered themselves to be members of the workforce (16 percent of
males and 6.4 percent of females).
In September 1998, Alberta initiated a government-wide study on the impact of the aging
population. The purpose of the study was to provide recommendations for future Alberta
policy directions for seniors’ policies and programs, in view of the expected increase in
the aging population. One of the issues identified was the current employment situation
of older people and the need to provide more flexible and appropriate options for work
and retirement.
Alberta has no mandatory retirement legislation or policies that require workers to retire
at a certain age. Age is a protected ground of discrimination in employment under the
Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act. Unless an employer can justify a
certain age as a bona fide occupational requirement there is no mandatory age of
retirement that an employer can enforce on an employee.
Certain employee pension plans and collective agreements have mandatory retirement
policies that require workers to retire at 65. On occasion complaints have been made to
the Alberta Human Rights Commission, but the employers have been able successfully to
justify age as a bona fide occupational requirement.
Certain private and government pension plans also provide financial incentives for early
retirement or disincentives for working beyond the standard retirement age.
The above-mentioned report on the impact of the aging population supports a new
concept of retirement whereby retirement is defined by a person’s desire and ability to
keep working rather than by age.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
Employment standards legislation in Alberta, through the Employment Standards Code,
addresses matters including the minimum wage, hours of work and overtime, rest
periods, rest days, vacations, general (statutory) holidays, maternity and adoption leaves,
and notice of employment termination.
In the period covered by the report, the Employment Standards Code was reviewed for
plain language and general organization. A number of minor changes were introduced
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whose intent was to streamline the administration of the Code and facilitate greater
compliance with the minimum standards provisions.
In 1998, the Alberta Government undertook a review of the Employment Standards
regulation, including the legislated minimum wage. Albertans participated in this review
by providing their views through questionnaires, written submissions and focus groups.
As a result of the review, the minimum wage was increased in three increments and the
differential of $.50/hour for students under the age of 18 was eliminated. The minimum
wage was increased from $5.00 per hour to $5.40 on October 1, 1998, then to $5.65 on
April 1, 1999, and the final increase to $5.90 per hour was made on October 1, 1999.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act, outlined in Canada’s Third Report under this
Covenant, applies to everyone in Alberta who is engaged in an occupation with the
exception of:
Farming and ranching operations;
Work done by the occupant or household servants of a private dwelling;
Occupations and employers covered under federal law.
The Radiation Protection Act applies to all Albertans, except those covered under federal
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
The Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act ensures that no trade
union shall exclude any person from membership, expel or suspend any member, or
discriminate against any person because of enumerated grounds.
Provincial legislation does not restrict the right for any person to belong to an
organization calling itself a “trade union,” subject to that organization’s own constitution,
local rules, by-laws and the above mentioned human rights legislation. However, simple
membership in an organization does not confer bargaining agent status nor make one a
unionized employee. The Labour Relations Board (LRB) outlines a process for
certifying employees who wish to be represented by a union.
Provincial legislation requires that, before a trade union can be certified as a bargaining
agent, it must file its constitutional documents with the LRB. As part of its first
certification attempt, the applicant must be formally recognized by the LRB as a trade
union as defined in the Labour Relations Code (Code).
The Code gives most workers who fall under Alberta jurisdiction the right to join or form
unions. It does not include provincial government employees or police officers, whose
union rights are covered by separate pieces of legislation. Most agricultural workers, and
live-in domestics as well as members of the architectural, dental, medical or engineering
professions, do not have access to bargaining rights under the Code. Finally, managers
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and employees employed in a “confidential capacity in matters relating to labour
relations” are excluded from union representation.
While the Code outlines the procedures by which successor rights are determined when
unions change their name, merge or amalgamate, it places no restrictions or qualifications
upon a union’s ability to federate or join international organizations subject of course to
human rights legislation.
The preamble to the Code clearly states that “legislation supportive of free collective
bargaining is an appropriate mechanism through which terms and conditions of
employment may be established.” As mentioned above, the Code requires trade unions
to properly file their constitutional documents (including a provision stating that one of
the purposes of the organization is to engage in collective bargaining). The Code
requires that trade unions, in order to gain and maintain their bargaining rights, must be
free of employer domination and control.
Subject to procedures outlined in the Code, most unionized employees have the right to
strike. Firefighters and employees at facilities designated as “hospitals” on an approved
hospitals list do not have the right to strike, but rather are subject to compulsory
arbitration. Police officers and provincial government employees, and certain employees
in public, post-secondary educational institutions (all covered under separate pieces of
legislation), also do not have the right to strike. A rough estimate of the number of
affected workers follows:
Provincial Civil Service
Advanced Education
Health Care
During the reporting period, there were no substantive legislative changes, court
decisions or changes in administrative policies and procedures that substantively affected
the right to form and join trade unions.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
Alberta provides assistance to persons in need through programs administered by the
Department of Alberta Human Resources and Employment (AHRE). These programs
provide financial assistance as well as access to resources and services, including training
programs to attain self-sufficiency.
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Supports for Independence Program
The Supports for Independence Program (SFI) program ensures Albertans, who have no
other resources, have access to essential goods and services (e.g. food, clothing, shelter,
and medical benefits). The program principles are outlined in Canada’s Third Report
under this Covenant.
Information is freely available throughout Alberta (brochures, Internet, public inquiries)
concerning the SFI program. There is no residency requirement for SFI: no one is
categorically excluded from receiving last resort assistance. Persons in need apply in
person at one of 50 district offices. In emergency or exceptional situations SFI workers
may take an application in the applicant’s home, hospital or shelter. SFI benefits are
issued as expediently as possible. In emergency situations, benefits can be issued the
same day as the application.
Agreements have been signed with six First Nations whereby a program similar to SFI is
provided to off-reserve band members. Persons on-reserve are the responsibility of the
federal government. Bands deliver a program similar to the provincial SFI program.
Applicants must demonstrate they have exhausted all alternative means of support,
including other programs. SFI tops up other benefits such as Workers’ Compensation,
Employment Insurance, and Canada Pension Plan benefits if these are inadequate. SFI
exempts receipt of many other sources of income (e.g. Alberta and federal energy tax
credits/rebates, Goods and Services Tax rebate, Canada Child Tax Benefit), and rates are
predicated on receipt of National Child Benefit supplements.
Some immigrant categories are not eligible for SFI, as they are the responsibility of
federal government, or do not have the right to be in Canada. Immigrant children are
assisted as long as one parent has status and meets SFI eligibility.
The upper age limit is usually 65, when clients then move to senior’s benefits.
Persons receiving SFI benefits are expected to do everything they can to become
independent again (through undertaking employment, training and job search). Alberta
does not have “workfare” programs. In government funded work experience programs,
clients are paid wages and a welfare supplement to earnings if necessary. They are free
to choose their employment; however they cannot refuse or quit appropriate work without
just cause. Clients can be exempt from work requirements because of pregnancy, need to
care for children under six months of age, need to care for a disabled dependent, age, or
temporary or long-term medical problems.
The program is asset tested. If applicant/family assets are in excess of allowed limits
they would be ineligible for SFI. The program is also income and needs tested. SFI
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compares an applicant’s needs (as determined by the program’s benefits rates) with
family income (after applying eligible exemptions).
Standard Allowance: Food, clothing, personal and household needs, transportation
and telephone expenses.
Shelter Allowance: Actual cost of shelter and utilities up to a maximum regulated
Supplementary Benefits: Additional needs listed in the regulation on a case-by-case
basis (e.g. co-insurance allowance, handicap benefit, allowance for job search, special
diets, additional shelter, extraordinary transportation, school expense allowance,
childcare, emergency needs).
Medical benefits: Prescription drugs, optical, dental, ambulance, health care premium,
diabetic supplies and funeral expenses. Health benefits are extended for clients in the
Assured Support category who leave SFI for work.
A need not covered above may be issued under Director approval on a case-by-case basis
(emergency benefits).
A third of SFI clients are working. These also benefit from earnings exemptions — the
portion of employment earnings that is not taken off dollar-for-dollar from SFI benefits.
A client may appeal any decision made by the caseworker through:
An administrative review by the supervisor, and/or
A quasi-judicial hearing by the Citizens’ Appeal Panel.
Decisions of the appeal panel are final and binding (unless nullified by court).
Selected benefits from other programs available to persons on SFI:
Programs leading to independence:
GST Rebate (federal)
Canada Child Tax Benefit (federal) — if the family has dependent children
Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit — if the family has dependent children and
employment income from the previous tax year
Day care subsidy (provincial) — for employment and medical reasons — top-up costs
over the subsidy, babysitting costs and after school costs are covered by SFI
Energy rebates (provincial and federal)
The Skills Development Program provides access to basic education, apprenticeship
and short-term skills training.
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Employment and Training Initiatives provides services and programs to assist clients
prepare for, obtain and maintain employment.
Youth Connections helps youth connect with pathways to careers and combine work
and learning.
Changes during the reporting period
During the reporting period, the following changes affected SFI clients:
In July 1997, the Shelter Allowance increased between $3 and $11 per month to
reflect increased utility costs
In February 1999, the Shelter Allowance for families with children increased between
$33 and $41.
Widows’ Pension program
The Widows’ Pension program provides financial, housing and health care benefits to
eligible low-income widows and widowers aged 55 to 64 to assist these individuals with
the loss of income caused by the death of their spouse.
This program is for low-income widows and widowers who are between 55 and 64,
residents of Alberta, and who are legally entitled to be in Canada. The upper age limit is
65; clients then move to senior’s benefits. A person is not eligible if he or she was
divorced from their spouse at the time of the spouse’s death, has remarried since the
spouse’s death, or is receiving benefits through the Assured Income for the Severely
Handicapped (AISH) program. Individuals are required to re-apply each year to continue
receiving benefits. A renewal form is sent each year to those who are receiving benefits.
Applications are available from Alberta Human Resources and Employment offices,
Alberta Treasury Branches, local seniors’ information centres, funeral homes, Indian
Affairs band offices, and the Alberta Widows’ Pension program office in Edmonton.
Completed application forms along with all required documentation are forwarded to the
Alberta Widows’ Pension program for review. Individuals receive a letter explaining
whether or not their applications have been approved. If approved, the letter states when
the benefits start and the amount to be issued. If an application is not approved, the letter
explains why.
The program provides up to $818 per month, exemption from Alberta Health Care
premiums, and medical care benefits similar to those provided to persons over the age of
65. The program also provides an annual shelter allowance for private rental
accommodation, mobile homes, or homeowners. Benefits provided through the Widows’
Pension program may be reduced based on other income that a person may receive.
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Individuals have the right to appeal, to a citizen’s appeal panel, decisions regarding
Widows’ Pension benefits.
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) is a safety net program to ensure
that a disabled person’s income does not fall below a guaranteed minimum level. It is
one of the most generous programs in Canada for the disabled. The program is putting
more effort into linking willing clients with available training and employment
opportunities, to ensure that the disabled have an opportunity to contribute to the Alberta
work force to the level of their ability.
Adults not eligible for Old Age Security (i.e. usually under age 65) who have a
permanent disability that severely limits their ability to earn a living, and who have few
resources, would qualify for the AISH program. The disability must be permanent
(physical or mental condition for which there is no remedial therapy which would
substantially change the condition). All treatment, rehabilitation, education or training
must be explored.
The AISH program is asset and income tested. Clients must hold $100,000 or less in
assets (excluding their home, car and other specific items). Assets such as bank accounts,
term deposits, RRSPs, Canada Savings Bonds, or Guaranteed Investment Certificates are
counted. Clients must seek all other benefits for which they qualify (like Canada Pension
Plan disability benefits). Income is classed as totally exempt, partially exempt, or not
There are two sub-programs, AISH and “modified AISH” which provides benefits for
people living in specific hospitals, nursing homes or other facilities.
People apply at one of many field offices of Alberta Human Resources and Employment
(AHRE) located across the province; in Edmonton and Calgary there are specialized
offices dealing with AISH. Applicants need to prove their identity and fill out forms
about their conditions, disability, income and assets. Their doctor needs to fill out a
medical report; sometimes specialist reports are needed. Other information may be
needed to determine if the applicant can work or train to become self-supporting. An
AISH worker reviews the application and verifies the income information. An AISH
Administrator in each of the AHRE’s six regions makes the eligibility decision, and calls
on various medical and rehabilitation specialists for advice if needed.
Aboriginal persons living on reserve are eligible for AISH; Alberta Human Resources
and Employment staff makes the eligibility decision. In some cases, bands deliver the
benefit once eligibility has been determined.
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The full application process may take up to three or four months. There is a citizens’
appeal process.
Special efforts are made to accommodate the situation of mentally ill persons who
comprise a third of the caseload. Their benefits can be kept going for short periods while
in mental hospital, forensic unit, etc. so they can maintain accommodations. Rapid
reinstatement provisions are particularly relevant for persons with episodic mental illness.
Once approved for benefits, clients must complete an annual reporting form, providing
information on their income, assets, and important changes in their medical condition.
Clients leave the program when they no longer meet its criteria; e.g. they turn 65 or have
sufficient income from other sources such as spouse’s employment or Canada Pension
Plan disability benefit.
AISH is a flat-rate monthly financial benefit. AISH also issues a monthly “medical
services card” which entitles the AISH client and his/her immediate family to health
benefits: essential diabetic supplies, optical benefits, dental coverage, ambulance and
coverage for prescription drugs (with $5 co-payment maximum for adult prescriptions).
Alberta Health Care Premiums and Alberta Aids to Daily Living co-payments are waived
for AISH clients.
The AISH benefit rate is $850 per month, plus $5 co-payment for adult prescriptions.
This benefit rate is reduced by non-exempt income. “Modified AISH” recipients who are
living in nursing homes and similar facilities receive the per diem fee to cover room and
board costs as prescribed by Alberta Health (about $900 per month) plus $175 per month
for incidentals.
Where the AISH flat rate is insufficient because the recipient has dependents, clients who
meet the SFI income and assets tests may transfer to SFI, and receive SFI benefits plus
$175 per month as a handicapped benefit.
AISH provides an incentive (through an earnings exemption) to persons who are capable
of some level of employment. For single AISH clients the first $200 per month of
partially exempt income does not affect the AISH benefit. The AISH benefit is reduced
by 75 percent of the remainder of the partially exempt income. This means that a single
person can earn up to $1,332 per month (net) and still be eligible for $1 in AISH and the
full health benefits (on average worth $200 per month). For persons with spouses
(including common-law) or persons with dependent children, the first $775 per month of
partially exempt family income does not affect the AISH benefit. The AISH benefit is
reduced by 75 percent of the remainder of the partially exempt income. This means that
income of the adults in a family can be up to $1,907 per month (net), the disabled person
can still receive $1 in AISH, and the family receives the full health benefits. The
earnings of children in AISH families are 100 percent exempt.
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Clients whose monthly earnings exceed a certain level do not receive the financial
benefit, however medical benefits may continue indefinitely if earned income is low.
Clients who leave the program for work may be reinstated without the full application
process for up to two years after they leave the program.
Changes made in October 1999
The AISH program was reviewed in 1999 to ensure that it was consistent with the
principles of In Unison, a federal/provincial/territorial report to improve circumstances
for persons with disabilities in Canada. After two rounds of public consultations in 1999,
the following changes were made:
Asset testing was introduced for both applicants and recipients ($100,000 asset limit);
Rapid reinstatement provisions encourage recipients to attempt employment;
Extended medical benefits were implemented to help former AISH recipients bridge
successfully to the work force;
Benefits were increased from $818 to $850 per month;
Income exemptions for singles were increased;
Focus on abilities rather than disabilities;
The Personal Needs Supplement for AISH clients increased by $58 per adult per
Skills Development Program
The Skills Development Program (SDP) provides benefits to financially disadvantaged
Albertans to enable them to access the level of training and education needed to achieve
independence through sustainable employment. More information on the Skills
Development Program was provided in Canada’s Third Report under this Covenant.
The Grants, Donations and Loans Regulation under the Government Organization Act
was amended in 1998 to:
Include integrated training in the range of learning opportunities funded under the
Provide access to grant funding for short-term skill training (to accommodate
circumstances where it may be unrealistic to expect a client to repay a loan
considering the earning prospects for some types of training).
Alberta Child Health Benefit
The Alberta Child Health Benefit (ACHB) was implemented in 1998. This innovative
program provides free extended health coverage for children under 18 years of age in
low-income families who live in Alberta. There is no cost to enroll. Benefits include
medical, dental, optical, prescription drugs, ambulance services and diabetic supplies.
The program pays 100 percent of the cost of covered services and products.
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The purpose of this program is to ensure that all children in Alberta have access to quality
health care services. This is especially important for low income working families.
Previously, compared to families on welfare, low-income working families were at a
disadvantage because they were not eligible for health care benefits available to the
children of social assistance recipients. Losing health care benefits for their children was
often a barrier/worry to families in moving from welfare to working.
Families qualify for the ACHB based on the number of children in the family, and the
family’s net income from the previous year.
# of children Previous year’s net income
More than 4 Add $2,000 for each additional child
In 1999, approximately 55,000 Alberta children were enrolled in the program.
Family Maintenance program
The Family Maintenance program helps single parents and parents of blended families
receive financial support from the other parent of their children. It is a mandatory service
for all single parents or parents of a blended family who are receiving Supports for
Independence (SFI) or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) benefits.
The Family Maintenance Program also provides some limited services to any Albertan
who is a single parent or parent of a blended family who requests assistance to receive
child support.
SFI or AISH applicants
When a single parent, or parent of a blended family, applies for SFI or AISH, a referral is
made to a Family Maintenance worker. The worker gathers information from the
applicant, and respondent, if possible. If necessary, the worker assists with establishing
paternity, and in locating the other parent. The worker then attempts to obtain an
agreement with the other parent to provide child support, or assists with the process to
obtain a court order. Agreements and applications for orders are prepared in accordance
with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Workers can also assist with the registration
of the agreement or order with the Maintenance Enforcement Program, Ministry of
Justice, which enforces and collects payments that have been filed with the court.
Other applicants
If paternity is not in question, the other parent’s location is known, and the other parent is
willing to negotiate an agreement, a Family Maintenance worker can assist in obtaining
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an agreement. In some court jurisdictions, the worker may also help the person prepare
for the court process.
Alberta’s programs for seniors (persons over age 65)
During the reporting period, Alberta Community Development delivered: Alberta Seniors
Benefit and Alberta Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Program
Alberta Health and Wellness delivered: Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, Alberta Blue
Cross for Seniors, Alberta Blue Cross Palliative Care Program, Extended Health Benefits,
Alberta Aids to Daily Living.
Alberta Seniors Benefit
The Alberta Seniors Benefit (ASB) program is designed to assist lower income seniors
and provides a cash benefit to supplement the federal Old Age Security (OAS) pension
and guaranteed income supplement. Health care premium exemptions are also calculated
for eligible seniors. To be eligible for ASB, the applicant must be 65 years or older, must
have an income within the program thresholds, must be a permanent resident of Alberta
and must be a Canadian citizen or admitted to Canada for permanent residence. The level
of benefits is determined by four factors: income, marital status, type of residence, and
eligibility for the federal Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
In 1999, the income thresholds for health care premium exemption were:
Full exemption for single seniors if total income is $0 to $22,950, for couples $0 to
Partial exemption for single seniors if total income is $22,951 to $25,670, couples
$36,901 to $42,340.
In 1999, to receive a cash benefit, the total income must be $18,060 or less for single
seniors and $27,160 or less for couples. These total income figures are guidelines only
and are applicable to seniors whose income includes full OAS and for senior couples
where both members are over 65 years of age.
As of January 1999, the maximum benefits were:
Renter: single senior — $2,350; senior couple —$3,500
Homeowner: single senior — $1,800; senior couple — $3,500
Mobile homeowner (on rented land): single senior — $2,150; senior couple — $3,300
As of January 1999, the maximum benefits for clients, both single seniors and senior
couples, not eligible for OAS but who reside in one of the above accommodations were
$1,2000 for renters, $650 for homeowners, and $1,000 for mobile homeowners on rented
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The maximum benefits for provincially subsidized renters and all other residence
categories were $1,370 for single seniors and $2,740 for senior couples.
The Alberta Seniors Benefit program was initiated in 1994, and consolidated three
previously existing programs: the Renters Assistance, Property Tax Reduction, and
Alberta Assured Income Program. By bringing these programs under one heading and
combined with the health care premium subsidy, needs of low income seniors are more
efficiently addressed.
In 1999, 181,184 seniors received benefits. Sixty-one percent of Alberta’s seniors were
eligible for and receiving some benefit from ASB. Of these, 43 percent were receiving a
monthly cash benefit and a full health insurance subsidy, and 18 percent were receiving a
full or partial health insurance subsidy but no cash benefit.
Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Program
The Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Program, implemented in 1995, is an incomebased program that provides a lump sum cash payment to help lower-income seniors who
are having financial difficulties. The program is a source of funding of last resort to
protect seniors who cannot make ends meet and have no other resources to draw on.
Eligibility criteria are: age 65 or older, an Alberta resident, eligible to receive benefits
from the Alberta Seniors Benefit Program, receiving federal Old Age Security pension,
and ability to show that he or she is unable to meet basic needs, including food, shelter,
transportation, medical supplies, dental and optical needs, and personal hygiene supplies
with the income they have. The maximum grant available is $5,000 per benefit year and
the smallest benefit is $200. The applicant’s income and allowable expenses determine
the amount actually received.
In 1999, 4,055 seniors received benefits under the program.
Both ASB and Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Program are financed by the
provincial government of Alberta from general revenue.
The Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Program is the only one of its kind in Canada.
With respect to health and health services in Alberta, medically required physician,
hospital and dental surgical services are provided in accordance with the Canada Health
Act and its five principles: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality,
portability, and accessibility.
Alberta also funds and provides a range of health services beyond the requirements of the
Canada Health Act. These services are provided on terms and conditions established by
the province and include services such as nursing home/long-term care facilities, mental
health, psychiatric hospitals, community rehabilitation services, public health, health
promotion, physiotherapy, chiropractic, podiatry, student health initiatives, and the Blue
Cross Program, including seniors’ drug benefits, etc.
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These services are publicly funded and publicly administered by health authorities
established under provincial legislation, or as part of the Alberta Health Care Insurance
Plan administered directly by Alberta Health and Wellness. In 1997-1998, Alberta spent
in excess of $4.2 billion on the provision of these services.
Health services to injured workers are outside the scope of the publicly funded and
administered health system. They are governed by the Worker’s Compensation Act and
provided through the Alberta Worker’s Compensation Board.
Medically necessary physician and dental surgical services must be provided and funded
through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Private or third party insurers are
permitted, if they choose, to provide coverage of physician and dental services not
insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Similarly, they may provide
coverage for hospital services that are not considered insured under the Hospitalization
Benefits Regulation. Private and third party insurers, either on a risk basis or as part of
employer paid benefits, may provide supplemental health coverage, i.e., services that are
not part of the coverage provided through the publicly funded system (e.g. massage
therapy or physiotherapy/chiropractic coverage over and above what is publicly funded).
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
Establishment of the new Ministry
In May 1999, the new Ministry of Children’s Services, the first of it’s kind in Canada,
was established to promote the development of strong children, families and
communities. The Ministry mission statement is “Working together to enhance the
ability of families and communities to develop nurturing and safe environments for
children, youth and individuals.”
Establishment of and transfer of responsibility to the Child and Family Services
In 1994, public consultations were held to determine how best to deliver child and family
services. As a result, in 1998, 18 Child and Family Services Authorities were established
throughout Alberta to deliver community-based child and family services that were
tailored to the needs of each community. These authorities have assumed responsibility
for managing services and resources for children and families with the involvement of
communities. One of the authorities was established to address the needs of children and
families on the eight Métis Settlements. The business plans of the authorities are within
the overall direction and initiatives of the Children’s Services Ministry.
Protection Against Family Violence Act
The Alberta Protection Against Family Violence Act was proclaimed in force on June 1,
1999. This legislation provides an enforcement mechanism for early intervention in
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family violence. The Act allows a police officer to obtain an Emergency Protection
Order giving the victim exclusive occupation of the family residence, at the scene of a
family violence incident, on a 24-hour basis, via telephone request to a Justice of the
Youth Secretariat
In June 1999, the Premier of Alberta established the Youth Secretariat. The mandate of
the Youth Secretariat is to identify issues and possible strategies to address issues facing
youth at risk in Alberta. The Youth Secretariat has established a Youth Advisory Panel,
comprised of 13 youth from around the province and from a variety of backgrounds.
This panel, a first of its kind in the provincial government, provides feedback on and
participates in the development of recommendations to improve services for youth.
Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act
In June 1996, the Government of Alberta established the Task Force on Children
Involved in Prostitution to address the issue of sexual exploitation of children in Alberta.
The Task Force included representatives from the public, schools, police, community
agencies, Justice, and the former department of Alberta Family and Social Services.
Developing legislation to protect children involved in prostitution was one of the Task
Force’s recommendations and led to the introduction of the Protection of Children
Involved in Prostitution (PChIP) Act, which was proclaimed in force on February 1,
1999. The PChIP Act recognizes that children involved in prostitution are victims of
sexual abuse and need protection. The Act provides the legislative authority to protect
children who are being sexually exploited and supports the provision of services to help
children end their involvement in prostitution. The Government of Alberta committed
$5.2 million to this project for the first three years of the program. An evaluation of the
implementation of the legislation and resulting programs will be undertaken.
Task force on children at risk
In August 1999, the Premier of Alberta established the task force on children at risk. The
role of the task force was to look at issues facing children at risk including, but not
limited to, those at risk of developing violent behaviour.
Alberta Partnership on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
In 1998, the Alberta Partnership on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) was established as
directed by the Minister of the former department of Alberta Family and Social Services.
The Partnership is a coalition of multi-disciplinary representatives from government
(both provincial and federal) and the community whose mandate is to develop, promote
and coordinate a comprehensive, culturally sensitive, provincial plan for the prevention,
intervention, care, support and development of individuals with FAS (which includes the
full spectrum of impacts resulting from prenatal exposure to alcohol — that is, fetal
alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol effects, alcohol related birth defects/injuries, etc.).
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The two goals of the Partnership are the prevention of FAS and the enhancement of
community capacity for the care and support of those already affected. These goals are
achieved through strategies and activities in the areas of training and education;
prevention and public awareness; community capacity; care and support; research and
Employment standards
The Employment Standards Code provides that pregnant employees are entitled to
18 weeks of maternity leave beginning within the 12 weeks prior to the expected date of
birth and at least six weeks after the birth. Income replacement during this period is
provided through the federal Employment Insurance program. During the review period
no changes were made to these provisions.
The Employment Standards Regulation (a regulation under the Employment Standards
Code) provides that adolescents (children aged 12, 13 and 14) are permitted to work only
in restricted circumstances and, in most situations, only with permission of the Director.
In all cases they are prohibited from working in situations that are, or have potential to
be, injurious to the life, health, education or welfare of the adolescent. Employment is
limited to two hours on a school day and eight hours on any other day.
Young persons (those 15, 16 and 17 years of age) are restricted in the work that they are
permitted to do after 9:00 p.m. For permitted work between midnight and 6:00 a.m., they
are required to have parental consent and be in the continuous presence of at least one
individual 18 years of age or older. During the reporting period no changes were made to
these provisions.
Other support programs for children and families
The Government of Alberta recognizes that families are the foundation of our lives and
the cornerstone of society. Strengthening and supporting families is essential to the wellbeing of Alberta. Many of its programs, policies and laws play an important part in the
lives of individual citizens and families. Alberta Human Resources and Employment
(AHRE) is actively involved in strengthening and supporting families, mothers and
Child In Need program
Child In Need (CIN) benefits are intended to provide financial assistance for a child
whose parents are unable or unwilling to properly care for their child.
When a child is living with a caregiver, because his/her parents are unable or unwilling to
provide proper care, the CIN program provides financial benefits to the caregiver for the
support of the child. Shelter benefits are issued when the caregiver is not a relative of the
child. Medical benefits are provided to the child, and supplemental benefits (e.g.
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childcare expenses) may be provided on a case-by-case basis. Caregivers/guardians are
expected to access all resources available to assist in the support of the child.
In calculating need under the CIN program, only the income and assets of the child are
taken into consideration. To qualify for this benefit, the guardian must provide
documentation that verifies the parents’ consent to the child residing with the guardian.
If there are any child protection concerns, then Child Welfare may be involved to make a
recommendation as to the suitability of the child’s living situation.
A school age CIN is expected to be in full time attendance in school. If a 16 or 17 year
old is not in school, then they would be expected to access youth services/programs to
assist them in training and/or to secure employment.
Parental Provisions under Supports for Independence (SFI)
Special Diets: A special diet benefit is available to pregnant women to ensure that they
can adequately meet their nutritional needs. A special allowance may be issued for an
infant requiring formula or special diets which are more expensive than the SFI food
rates, on the recommendation of a healthcare professional.
Natal Benefit: A natal benefit is available ($350 for the first child and $125 for each
subsequent child) to cover the cost of the infant’s clothing, crib, infant car seat, etc.
Maternal Care: SFI policy recognizes the importance of maternal care of infants.
Mothers are not expected to work or participate in training until their youngest child is
six months of age. The best way for a single mother to more adequately meet her
children’s needs is through work. Therefore services, programs and supports are
available to single mothers as well as to all SFI clients, to facilitate their transition to
Childcare: An allowance may be issued to a parent to cover the cost of babysitting or
childcare expenses so that the parent can participate in job search, employment, training
or employment preparation programs. Childcare costs may also be covered if, in the
opinion of a medical professional, the physical or mental health of the parent makes
childcare necessary.
Parents are encouraged to utilize the services of licensed subsidized daycare centres and
family day homes, as the care provided is regulated and monitored to ensure the safety,
health and development of the children are protected. However, parents are not forced to
jeopardize their work to minimize SFI childcare costs. Even if the cost of childcare and
the earnings exemption makes going to work more expensive for the SFI program than
the parent staying at home, childcare costs are provided as the goal is for client
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Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
The Government of Alberta, through Alberta Human Resources and Employment
(AHRE) and other Departments, seeks to ensure that all citizens of Alberta have access to
an adequate standard of living. Ideally, the means to acquire an adequate standard of
living is through employment. For those who are not able to work or who have
insufficient employment income, the Supports for Independence, Widows’ Pension,
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and the National Child Benefit are
programs available to assist people to meet their basic needs. These programs have been
outlined in earlier sections of the report.
Poverty measurement
Alberta is committed to reducing poverty and its effects. The goal is to help people move
toward training and independence through skills development and training programs.
Alberta’s programs also help working families get a step up financially through daycare
subsidies, health coverage and the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit.
Canada does not have a common definition of poverty, although most reports use
Statistics Canada’s Low-Income-Cut-Off (LICO). Alberta has collaborated with the
federal government and other provinces/territories to develop an additional measurement
of poverty, the Market Basket Measure (MBM).
The MBM has been included in the Alberta Government’s business plan Measuring Up
as an indicator for the following two Alberta government business goals:
Goal 2: Our Children will be cared for, safe, successful at learning and healthy. For
this goal, one of the indicators is the “Percentage of Children Living above the MBM
low income threshold.”
Goal 5: Albertans unable to provide for their basic needs will receive help. The
measure for this goal is “People living above the market basket measure low income
Although the MBM is considered as an alternative to LICO, for policy purposes Alberta
considers the MBM to be superior because: it can better target and monitor low income
levels and poverty; it is easy to understand; and, it is sensitive to regional variations in the
cost of living. When actual data from the MBM are available, Alberta plans to use it to
evaluate the province’s progress in achieving Goals 2 and 5 which target issues related to
low income.
Seniors’ standard of living
One measure of standard of living is income. A recent publication by Statistics Canada
(Income in Canada, 1998) provides extensive information on income in Canada,
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including data broken down by province. The following information is drawn from this
Average after-tax income — elderly families
In Alberta from 1989 to 1998, the average after-tax incomes of elderly families declined
by about $3,000, and the decline in their incomes has been steady since 1993. During the
same period, the incomes of non-elderly families increased.
In relation to other provinces, Alberta’s elderly families placed seventh ($32,561) in
terms of average after-tax income for 1998.
Average after-tax income — unattached seniors
Since 1989, the average after-tax incomes of Alberta’s unattached seniors have
undergone a series of increases and decreases, but have increased overall. Unattached
male seniors’ average income reached a high of $30,293 in 1998. Unattached female
seniors’ average income has declined slightly since 1996, but overall (from 1989 to
1998), it has increased by about $2,500. The 1998 average after-tax income for
unattached males was slightly higher than the Canadian average. The comparable figure
for unattached females was slightly lower.
Low income
Low income provides a better indication than average income of whether certain groups
within a society have problems maintaining a certain standard of living. Statistics
Canada measures low income by using the Low Income Cut-Off measure using after-tax
In Alberta, the prevalence of low-income among elderly families and unattached elderly
males remained at a negligible level from 1989 to 1998, and has been lower than the rate
among elderly Canadian families.
In Alberta, the prevalence of low-income among elderly unattached males has declined
from 31.4 percent in 1989 to 13.7 percent in 1998. By contrast, the prevalence of lowincome among non-elderly unattached females has increased from 33.3 percent in 1989
to 40.7 percent in 1998.
Right to adequate food
All regional health authorities employ community nutritionists who develop and
implement community nutrition programs. Initiatives are targeted to the entire
population and include: prenatal nutrition, breastfeeding, infant and child nutrition
programs; support for the nutrition component of the health curriculum in schools and
comprehensive school health initiatives; support for community kitchens, food banks and
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child feeding programs; workplace nutrition programs and seniors nutrition programs.
Programs may very between regions based on local needs and priorities.
Nutritionally vulnerable groups include Aboriginal people, low income persons, recent
immigrants, socially isolated individuals and persons with multiple health problems.
Elderly people
It is known that isolated cases of malnutrition among elderly individuals do occur;
however, such cases are usually a result of self-neglect by persons suffering from
dementia or mental illness, or the result of neglect by a caregiver, frequently a family
member. This cannot be said to be a systemic problem and it is unlikely such cases are a
result of poverty. Federal and provincial income and social security programs for seniors
in Alberta are considered to provide sufficient funds for seniors to meet nutritional needs,
and many community agencies exist to help low-income and marginalised seniors further
maintain a basic standard of living.
Alberta has a well-developed system of community outreach agencies. One of the
functions of such agencies is to identify seniors who may have unmet medical, economic,
social or nutritional needs, such as isolated seniors with dementia, and ensure their
referral to provincially funded health and wellness services, such as home care, hospital
care, or long term care, and to other community or institutional services.
Right to housing
Housing situation in Alberta
Alberta’s strong economy has caused significant in-migration throughout the 1990s. This
influx has put a strain on housing availability, causing low vacancy rates and rental
increases in many areas of the province. In some communities, rental vacancy rates have
fallen below 1 percent, causing rental rates to increase significantly.
Market rents are below economic rent levels and fewer new rental units are being built
because private sector developers and builders can realize a better and more immediate
return on investment in the construction of houses and condominiums for ownership.
Since 1992, the stock of rental housing in Alberta’s high-growth areas has decreased by
7.6 percent, or 11,855 units largely due to condominium conversions.
In addition to rent increases, the cost of housing has also risen throughout the 1990s.
Between 1995 and 1999 alone, the average price for residential housing in Alberta
increased by $30,728 or 21 percent. In Calgary, a city that has seen tremendous growth
throughout the decade, new housing have risen by $49,500 or 36 percent between 1988
and 1998. Resale house prices have increased by $57,500 or 58 percent over this same
period. For households, this means that for a new home to be affordable, an annual
income of $59,000 is required. For a resale home, an annual household income of
$50,800 is required.
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Groups who are vulnerable to housing and disadvantaged with regard social housing
Although no reliable estimates are available on the number of homeless people in
Alberta, groups within some municipalities have conducted surveys to estimate
homelessness in their communities. In cities where homelessness is considered an issue,
strategies are underway between the government and communities to deal with the
Housing adequacy
In terms of adequate housing (not in need of major repairs), the average shelter cost to
gross income ratio (STIR) among Alberta renters of housing that did not meet standards
of adequacy was 22 percent in 1996. For homeowners, this ratio was 16 percent (1996
Census Data).
Housing suitability
The average STIR among renters of units that did not meet suitability standards (number
of bedrooms for family size) was 23 percent. For homeowners, this figure was
17 percent (1996 Census Data).
Housing affordability
The average STIR among renters of units below affordability standards (shelter costs are
less than 30 percent of before-tax household income) was 48 percent. For homeowners
this ratio was 53 percent (1996 Census Data).
The Shelter Cost to Income Ratio of renters of housing below multiple standards (a
combination of adequacy, suitability and affordability) was 57 percent, and 52 percent for
homeowners (1996 Census Data).
Laws affecting the right to housing
The Alberta Housing Act clarifies the Alberta government’s role as a facilitator of social
housing. The Act enables the efficient provision of a basic level of housing
accommodation for persons who, because of financial, social or other circumstances,
require assistance to obtain or maintain housing accommodation. The Act outlines the
rules by which community-based management bodies provide social housing.
The Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act protects human rights and
promotes fairness and reduces discrimination so that all Albertans have the opportunity to
participate fully in society, including the right to housing.
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Measures taken to fulfil the right to Housing
In 1998, a Deputy Ministers Committee comprised of the Ministers of Community
Development, Alberta Justice, Alberta Municipal Affairs, and Alberta Health and
Wellness, was established as a working committee to develop a Provincial Housing
Policy. In 1999-2000, guiding principles were developed and the strengths of the
stakeholder ministries were identified. This groundwork formed the basis for future
directions with the development of a suggested repositioning of responsibilities for the
delivery and administration of housing programs and services to seniors, families and
persons with special needs.
The Alberta provincial government subsidizes approximately 17,000 family and special
purpose housing units, for a budgeted annual subsidy cost of $62 million.
The Rent Supplement Program provides a mechanism for generating affordable housing
for those Albertans most in need. The program provides assistance to low-income
families and special needs clients so they may obtain suitable rental accommodation in
the private sector.
The Home Adaptation Program provides grants to homeowners and tenants who use a
wheelchair or have a wheelchair user residing in their home or a person residing in their
home with a severe mobility disability who will eventually require the use of a
The Supportive Housing program provides housing for Albertans who require support
services to live independently in their community.
The Special Purpose Housing program provides mortgage subsidy financing to enable
non-profit organizations to develop and manage emergency or transitional residential
facilities providing care to people with physical, mental or behavioural conditions.
The thriving Alberta economy has resulted in lower rental vacancy rates, and created
competition for subsidized housing units. Unlike in the past, where most of the homeless
population were single persons with a mental health problem, criminal conviction or drug
addiction problems, an increasing number of today’s homeless are families with children,
recent immigrants seeking employment in Alberta’s growing economy and youth with
problems at home.
Various forums and advocacy groups have raised the problem of increasing homelessness
in the province — the Edmonton Task Force on Homelessness, the Calgary Task Force
on the Homeless, the Children’s Forum, the Task Force on Children at Risk, the Healthy
Incomes Healthy Outcomes Symposium, an Alberta Urban Municipalities Association
report, etc.
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In Alberta, homelessness is considered to be an issue mainly in Calgary and Edmonton.
Alberta Human Resources and Employment has regional offices in Calgary and
Edmonton that work in partnership with the street-serving agencies, such as the Boyle
McCauley Health Centre in Edmonton, in ensuring shelter, food and medical services are
available to the homeless in some way. A Calgary initiative ensures that street persons
have access to medical services. Food banks operate as a private charitable addition to
other services. Local staff from other ministries also works in this holistic case
management model and connect the services provided by them.
Recent surveys conducted by community-based organizations estimated the number of
homeless in Calgary and Edmonton at about 1,000 (on the street or in shelters) in each
city on any given night.
International and Intergovernmental Relations do not maintain a database regarding the
state of housing occupied by Aboriginal people. Nor does the Alberta government have
any housing programs that are specifically targeted to Aboriginal people. However, a
large percentage of clients in rural housing programs are Aboriginal, as these programs
are targeted to northern and remote communities. In the past, social housing in these
areas was provided according to local needs. The Alberta government continues to try to
meet the needs of lower income families in these communities.
Mental health
There is no accurate evidence in Alberta that shows that discharged psychiatric patients
are ending up homeless. The deinstitutionalisation of individuals with mental illness
occurred in Canada in the 1960s and early 1970s, which is not necessarily reflective of
the age ranges of the current homeless population.
There has been a shift in the delivery of mental services from large psychiatric hospitals
towards treatment in the community. This reflects both advancements in mental health
care knowledge and treatment regimes as well as recognition of the human rights of
individuals to live and work as much as possible in their own communities.
The Alberta Mental Health Board is a provincial health authority with responsibility for
assessing, monitoring and promoting the mental health of Albertans. The responsibility
for mental health service is shared among the Board, regional health authorities,
physicians, other mental health service providers as well as consumer mental health
services. In Alberta, funding for community mental health services has increased by
142 percent over the past seven years while funding for facility-based services has
increased by 14 percent.
The Alberta Mental Health Board is working with other provincial departments, service
delivery agencies, and community-based organizations to enhance supports to enable the
homeless with mental illness to lead a more normal life in their community. The
provision of needed mental health supports is a vital component of the provincial
homelessness strategy.
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Individuals with severe and persistent mental illness may be eligible for various housing
options offered by the Alberta Mental Health Board and regional health authorities.
Individuals are responsible for the cost of room and board but may qualify for income
support such as the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped.
An important part of discharge planning from psychiatric facilities is ensuring transition
into the community. This may include referrals to community mental health services,
personal physicians, vocational or employment options and housing.
Health services
Particular health problems of the homeless may include mental health conditions,
specifically depression and anxiety disorders, physical health problems related to alcohol
or substance abuse, especially intravenous drug use, lack of safe sex practices, inadequate
diet, and physical injury. Data on the incidence of tuberculosis in the homeless
population within Alberta is unavailable at this time.
Barriers to receiving medical care among the homeless include: refusal to access care;
lack of knowledge of where to go for medical and support services; lack of
transportation; low health knowledge about key health risks such as hepatitis, safe use of
needles for IV drug use, venereal diseases, substance abuse, smoking, and safe sex
practices, and financial difficulties in accessing needed medications.
Within Alberta, there are a number of community-based health clinics, which provide
health and medical services to homeless persons, as well as information about health
Treaty Land Entitlement
Indian land claims principally involve the federal government, which has the primary
responsibility under the Constitution. In some cases, however, claims also involve the
province. Under the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, the Province has an
obligation to transfer back to the federal government unoccupied Crown lands to the
extent necessary to allow the federal government to fulfill its treaty responsibilities.
Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) settlements are important steps to establishing an
economic base and the development of infrastructure to improve the standard of living
for the First Nation population.
Alberta was involved in three TLEs during the reporting period for a total of
approximately 71,000 acres of land and $12.5 million.
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Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
In a number of priority setting processes in Alberta prior to 1998, regional health
authorities (RHA), communities, practices and professional associations indicated
support for an enhancement of primary health care. With the creation of the federal
Health Transition Fund, Alberta Health and Wellness was able to take advantage of the
opportunity provided through federal funding support with RHAs and other stakeholders
to advance primary health care, test innovations and share learning and best practices.
Twenty-seven widely diverse primary health care projects were funded under the
Umbrella Alberta Primary Health Care Project, mostly involving regional health
authorities. Projects began implementation in September 1998 and ended May 2000. A
condition of funding was that an independent evaluation of each project be undertaken.
A final evaluation report for the umbrella project will be submitted to the Federal Health
Transition Fund by February 2001, which will create a provincial picture of how these
projects have contributed to advancing primary health care.
The funded projects included the evaluation of some existing primary health care
activities, models or approaches, the enhancement and evaluation of others and some new
demonstration projects. Some of the key approaches included:
System restructuring
System utilization
Multi-sectoral collaboration
Injury and disease prevention, health promotion and wellness
Community health centre models
Building capacity for healthy communities
Multi-disciplinary teams
Results will be shared across Canada and Alberta through a number of other
dissemination activities/publications to inform the practice of primary health care by
regional health authorities and others, and ultimately inform future development of
As well, Alberta Health and Wellness and the Alberta Medical Association are jointly
developing alternative delivery and payment models, which will make it easier for
interested physicians to develop and implement their ideas. Six alternative payment plan
pilot projects have been implemented, with a number of others under negotiation.
Within Alberta there is a greater investment of time to integrating the interests of
environmental health into resource development issues. The Alberta Government is
committed to cross-government integration through the Sustainable Development
Coordinating Council. This is a Deputy Ministers’ committee with membership from key
government departments, including Economic Development, Environment, Resource
Development, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, International and
Intergovernmental Affairs, Innovation and Science, Infrastructure, and Health and
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Wellness. A major part of their mandate is in an area called Integrated Resource
Management and Sustainable Development. The term “sustainable development” refers
to a strategic approach to integrating economic, social and community interests in a way
that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs.
Another area of interest related to environmental health is the Alberta Government’s
leadership role in climate change. Alberta is a resource rich province particularly in the
areas of oil and gas, mining, forestry and agriculture, which attract attention due to the
related greenhouse gas emission issues. Recognizing the need to address climate change,
Alberta has taken a leadership role across Canada in reducing greenhouse gas emissions
and has been recognized nationally for the progress that has been made within
government sectors and among participating industries.
The Department of Health and Wellness provides funding to the Alberta Centre for Injury
Control and Research (ACICR) that was formed in April 1998 in response to a need for a
provincial, multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary mechanism for linking, supporting and
facilitating injury related activities and resources in Alberta. The Centre has a mandate to
address the full continuum of injury control — prevention, emergency medical services,
acute care, rehabilitation, and research. ACICR offers leadership and support for injury
control initiatives in the areas of programming, research, surveillance and evaluation,
information sharing and education.
The Department is working with key stakeholders to enhance both breast and cervical
cancer screening in the province. It is anticipated that there will be provincially
coordinated programs to address both these health issues in the year 2001.
To address HIV in the province, a number of initiatives are being implemented as part of
the HIV in Alberta 1998/1999-2002 Alberta Health Strategy.
The emergence and reliance on new high cost drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and other
illnesses will not erode universal access to health care in Alberta. Drugs for HIV/AIDS
are provided through the regional health authorities in Edmonton and Calgary as part of
the Province-Wide Services Program. HIV/AIDS drugs are available to all Albertans
with assessed medical need, at no charge.
All provinces now have pharmacare plans in place. These differ from the medically
necessary services that must be provided under the Canada Health Act. Although there
are large differences in plan features among provinces, they all have some common
elements, including coverage for vulnerable groups such as seniors and recipients of
social assistance.
Initiatives in both the TB and STD areas are being implemented to ensure that pertinent
and essential information is provided to persons working in these areas.
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The Department funds the Alberta Tobacco Reduction Alliance to implement a
collaborative tobacco reduction plan.
Within Alberta, an array of health programs and services are targeted to assist vulnerable
groups, including the Extended Health Benefits Program for Seniors, the Premium
Subsidy and Waiver Programs for lower-income Albertans, the Aids to Daily Living
Program for persons with disabilities or chronic health conditions. Alberta Health and
Wellness works with the federal government to fund and deliver the Child Health Benefit
Plan and Community Action Programs for Children, the Teen Tobacco Reduction
Project, the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, and the TB Management Program on
Alberta First Nation Reserves. There is also an Aboriginal Health Strategy for Alberta
Health and Wellness, which encourages partnerships among Aboriginal communities,
and health providers to improve the cultural appropriateness of health services, increase
access to health services by Aboriginal people and increase the number of Aboriginal
people working throughout the health system.
1000. So far, over 40 partnership projects have been funded through the Alberta Aboriginal
Health Strategy to improve the health status of Aboriginal Albertans. To improve the
health, social, and economic status of the Aboriginal population, the Province is
developing a government-wide initiative involving all provincial departments/agencies.
Each department will develop strategic initiatives, with measurable results, to meet the
needs of Aboriginal communities through collaborative and cooperative partnerships.
1001. Alberta is a food-producing province and food safety is a major factor influencing trade
and consumer confidence. For this reason the Alberta government supports the
integration and harmonization of food safety related regulations and codes that are being
developed in a number of food commodity areas such as meat, milk and retail
environments. The work of food safety is complemented by Alberta’s role in
communicable disease surveillance and case contact investigation and information
systems that are being developed to track cases, as well as, rates of immunization.
1002. In 1994, the Direct Observed Therapy program was made mandatory for all active
pulmonary tuberculosis cases in Alberta.
1003. On March 2, 1995, a public health bulletin was issued announcing the introduction of a
universal Hepatitis B vaccine program for students in Grade 5 during the 1995-1996
school term and extending to future cohorts of grade 5 children. This program was in
addition to current programming focussing on high-risk groups.
1004. July 5, 1996, a bulletin was issued announcing a second dose catch-up measles vaccine
program for Alberta Preschoolers.
1005. In November 1997, an educational and advisory campaign targeted at health
professionals and the public was launched. The goal of the program was to increase
awareness related to hepatitis C virus infection (HCV).
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1006. In March 1997, a mass immunization campaign focussing on the provision of the second
dose measles vaccine to all Albertans aged 6-16 was instituted. This program helped
ensure that the population aged 1-24 received at least two doses of the measles containing
vaccine, which is generally believed to be essential in eliminating the disease.
1007. On July 2, 1997, the acellular pertussis vaccine for routine infant immunization was
introduced in Alberta. This vaccine is more effective than the previous pertussis vaccine,
has fewer adverse events and supports Alberta’s goal to reduce the incidence of pertussis
1008. From 1997 to 1998, Alberta Health and Wellness provided dedicated funding for: HIV
clinics in Edmonton and Calgary; specific antiretroviral therapies through the
extraordinary drug cost program; and two provincial laboratories for testing and
1009. In September 1998, the Enhanced Pneumococcal Vaccine Program was introduced. This
program extends the eligibility for the vaccine to those 65 years and older in addition to
those in long-term care facilities and those with high risk medical conditions.
1010. On September 1, 1998, based on a recommendation of stakeholders coordinated by the
Alberta Medical Association, routine HIV screening for pregnant women was instituted.
The screening is done unless the woman declines testing.
1011. In September 1999, a media campaign targeting specific rural and northern communities
with low immunization rates was implemented. The goal of the campaign was to
promote routine childhood immunization within those populations.
1012. On September 29, 1999, a public health bulletin announced a three-year program to
provide hepatitis B vaccination to grade 12 students throughout Alberta.
1013. In September 1999, a study of tuberculosis in the foreign-born was initiated. This study
is a review and analysis of immigration to Alberta and its impact on the rates of TB in the
province. The second phase of the project will identify strategies to control the rates of
TB in new Canadians.
1014. In 1999, Alberta Health and Wellness facilitated the provincial roll-out of a radio
campaign focussing on HIV prevention in adolescent youth.
1015. Alberta Health and Wellness also worked collaboratively with Alberta Justice in 1999 on
prevention programming, including harm reduction and the provision of print materials
that are specific to offenders, ex-offenders and specific populations (Aboriginal people).
1016. That same year, Alberta Health and Wellness provided current and relevant information
related to Non Prescription Needle Use to aid in programming, service delivery and best
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1017. In 1998-1999, Alberta Health and Wellness supported community response to HIV
through the HIV Community Organization Grants ($1.295 million). Initiatives receiving
this funding provide expert advice, provincial programming, leadership, and education of
health and social service professionals and the public.
1018. The principle laws in Alberta that promote and safeguard the right of everyone to enjoy
the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health are:
Alberta Health Care Insurance Act
Health Insurance Premiums Act
Hospitals Act
Nursing Homes Act
Regional Health Authorities Act
Cancer Programs Act
Mental Health Act
Health Care Protection Act
Public Health Act
Health Information Act
Personal Directives Act
1019. This list includes statutes that go beyond the provision of insured services required by the
Canada Health Act. This is because the public health system in Alberta goes beyond the
minimums prescribed by the federal enactment.
1020. A document, Health Needs Assessment: A Guide for Regional Health Authorities has
recently been developed and will be distributed to regional health authorities (RHAs) in
the province in the near future. The guide is a tool to support RHAs in conducting health
needs assessments that are a requirement under the Regional Health Authorities Act.
Community participation in the process is referred to in the guide.
1021. The Department works with RHAs in identifying priorities for health education material
and coordinates the development of key resources.
1022. RHAs work with a variety of community partners to provide a wide range of prevention
and health promotion programs to meet the needs of the populations in their areas.
Examples of programs include prenatal health, child health, heart health, cancer
prevention, tobacco reduction, injury prevention, sexual health, and nutrition programs.
1023. The Personal Directives Act allows an individual to appoint an agent to make decisions
on the individual’s behalf regarding personal matters such as health care, place of
residence and legal affairs, when the person is incapable of doing so. The legislation was
proclaimed into force on December 1, 1997, and is administered by the Office of the
Public Guardian.
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Home care
1024. Publicly funded home care programs exist in every province and territory in Canada.
Home care is not included under the Canada Health Act and consequently home care
services are not insured in the same way as hospitals and physicians services. As the
responsibility of providing services rests with the provinces and territories, home care
policies, services and their delivery vary across the country.
1025. Home care programs in the Province of Alberta are legislated under the Public Health
Act, Co-ordinated Home Care Program Regulation 239/85. Alberta’s 17 Regional Health
Authorities (RHAs) are responsible for determining and providing the specific types and
level of service to meet the health needs of home care clients in their communities, acting
in accordance with province-wide home care policy guidelines. The RHAs are mandated
to provide community home care services based on assessed needs. Home care services
include client assessment, case co-ordination, professional services, personal care and
homemaking support services. RHAs develop service plans that address the priority
needs of their residents, within available resources.
1026. There is no charge for professional home care services and personal care services.
However, a fee of $5.00 per hour to a maximum of $300 per month, based on a sliding
fee schedule for individual and family income, is usually charged for homemaking
support services. Individuals who receive the Alberta Widows’ Pension, the Guaranteed
Income Supplement, Supports for Independence, or the Assured Income for the Severely
Handicapped may be eligible for a fee exemption. These fees may be waived by the coordinated home care program if undue financial hardship is caused for the client.
1027. When home care clients have concerns related to their care needs assessment they have
the right to appeal under Section 3.3 of the Coordinated Home Care Program Regulation.
All decisions made by the Regional Health Authority’s appeal Panel are final. There is
no appeal mechanism at the provincial level regarding Home Care services.
1028. In recent years, RHAs have faced mounting pressure as a result of increased demand for
home care services, generated by the earlier discharge of patients from acute care
hospitals, and the increased number of seniors and persons with disabilities wanting to
remain in their own homes as long as possible. The RHAs have addressed these
pressures by establishing priorities for their services so that people who need services
most receive the services that are required.
1029. Although funding has increased in Alberta, persons with disabilities consistently state
that home care services are not fully meeting their needs. The provision of home care
support continues to be a key concern of disability groups. The Alberta Disability
Forum, comprised of over 25 provincial disability organizations, is currently developing
a position paper and recommendations on home care in Alberta.
1030. The Minister of Health and Wellness initiated a long-term case review in November 1997
to assess continuing care services required by an aging population.
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Special needs transportation
1031. Alberta, and in particular, its larger urban centres, remains committed to addressing the
issue of special needs transportation. For example, Edmonton has committed to having
an entire fleet of low floor buses by 2008. An Alberta Advisory Committee on BarrierFree Transportation comprised of government and community stakeholders continues to
meet on a quarterly basis to address special needs transportation issues and provide
recommendations to government. Issues such as an effective and efficient DATS
(Disabled Adults Transportation System) remain high on the priority list.
Eligibility rules for persons with disabilities/income support program
1032. The AISH (Assured Income for Severely Disabled) remains one of the most progressive
disability related income support programs in Canada. Recent improvements to the
program have allowed for rapid reinstatement of individuals if they have left the program
for full time work and their disability recurs. Income support, however, continues to be a
key concern of all disability groups. Additional information on the AISH can be found
under Article 9 of the present report.
Programs for persons with mental illness
1033. The provision of adequate community based services for persons discharged from
institutional settings remain a major concern for disability-related organizations, families
and individuals. All major provincial community organizations and professional
associations within the mental health arena have recently come together to form the
Alberta Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health in an effort to develop a united
front to effectively work for improvements in community based mental health care. The
Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities is involved with the
Aboriginal issues
1034. Aboriginal communities continue to experience a high rate of disability relative to other
Albertans. Disability services and supports must be culturally sensitive and developed in
collaboration with Aboriginal leaders and communities.
1035. Portability continues to be a major issue for disability groups. Individuals and
associations have indicated that they are frustrated by their inability to have supports and
services “move” with them when they move their household within Alberta.
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Multicultural issues
1036. The Health Innovation Fund has granted $1.3 million over three years to a group of
community agencies and health providers to develop improved access and
communications between multicultural communities and the mental health system.
Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities
1037. In recent stakeholder consultations throughout the province, the disability community has
identified the need for a coordinated disability policy framework — Alberta Disability
Strategy — that will see the province examine every aspect of policy that impacts the
estimated 425,000 people who have disabilities. The number one priority for the
Premier’s Council is the development and implementation of the strategy. Ways of
measuring key areas will be developed with the disability community — for example,
employment rates for people with disabilities. Actions to improve the situation will then
be identified. Alberta will also develop ways of measuring progress resulting from these
actions and build in accountability measures. The Associate Minister of Health and
Wellness has endorsed the Alberta Disability Strategy.
1038. The Government of Alberta supports the vision of “healthy aging” as a priority goal for
the province, and is following through on this commitment to provide more accessible
and comprehensive long term care and home care services to Albertans who need them.
1039. In 1998, the Protection for Persons in Care Act became law in Alberta. This Act makes
it mandatory to report the suspected abuse or neglect of any adult residing or receiving
care in a government funded facility, including nursing homes, assisted living units,
hospitals, group homes, and women’s shelters. Reports of alleged abuse are fully
investigated and recommendations made in relation to the allegations. Full orientation
and training of staff in facilities covered by the Act has taken place, and a toll-free
reporting line and central investigation unit is staffed and operated by Alberta
Community Development.
1040. The Protection for Persons in Care Act covers adults living in government funded
facilities, and its purpose is primarily to address alleged abuse by facility personnel. The
Protection against Family Violence Act addresses alleged abuse of adults, including
seniors, by family members. This Act (administered by the Office for Prevention of
Family Violence, Department of Children’s Services) gives police the power to intervene
when a family member is threatened by violence in his or her home.
1041. Health care in Alberta is funded partly through general revenue and partly through health
care premiums paid by Alberta citizens. Provincially funded health care coverage is
universal and includes medically required services of physicians and osteopaths, some
oral surgeries, some chiropractic and podiatric services, and limited coverage for eye
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1042. The current premium rates are $34 per month for a single person and $68 per month for a
family of two or more people. Low-income seniors may be eligible for a premium
subsidy through the Alberta Seniors Benefit Program if their income is below a certain
threshold. In 1999, 43 percent of Alberta Seniors received a full health care premium
subsidy, and 18 percent receive a partial subsidy.
1043. In addition, Alberta seniors who are receiving benefits from Alberta Seniors Benefit
Program and who are unable to meet their needs for certain basic medical, dental or
optical costs not covered by the provincial plan may be eligible for assistance from the
Special Needs Assistance for Seniors Program.
1044. During the report period, Alberta also provided several special programs for seniors to
help with medical costs that were not covered by the provincial plan. These were:
Alberta Blue Cross Coverage for Seniors provided Alberta seniors, their spouses and
dependents with premium-free supplemental health insurance coverage for health
related services including benefits for prescription drugs, ground ambulance services,
prosthetics (including mastectomy) orthotic appliances, home care, clinical
psychology services.
Alberta Blue Cross Palliative Care Drug Program provided premium-free coverage
for needed medications for patients who have been diagnosed as being palliative and
are treated at home.
Extended Health Benefits Program helped seniors pay a portion of the cost for
eyeglass and some dental services.
Alberta Aids to Daily Living (universal coverage, not only seniors) assisted
individuals who have a chronic disability or illness and those who are end stage
palliative to receive authorized basic medical equipment and supplies for independent
functioning in a home or home-like setting.
Measures to promote environmental and industrial hygiene
1045. The Premier of Alberta announced Alberta’s Commitment to Sustainable Resource and
Environmental Management in 1999. It confirms the government’s strategy for
delivering sustainable development through: a shared vision that sets expectations and
goals for sustainable development, clear provincial direction to ensure a consistent
approach across the Alberta Government, an effective decision making process that
ensures decisions are fair, informed and made in a timely manner; and an up-to-date
legislative and regulatory regime.
1046. The Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act provides an integrated
approach to environmental protection. Alberta Environment sets standards and
guidelines for air, land soil and water quality. Alberta has among the toughest
environmental standards in North America.
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1047. A 1999 comparison of ambient air quality requirements for major air pollutants (e.g.
sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ground level
ozone and total suspended particles) showed Alberta’s requirements are equivalent to or
more stringent that those of other provinces and the United States.
1048. Alberta has a network of over 150 monitoring stations run by government, industry and
multi-stakeholder groups. Alberta is working to expand the number of air monitoring
stations operated under the provincial monitoring plan for ambient air quality. Since the
Index of the Quality of the Air (IQUA) was introduced in Alberta in the 1980s, air quality
at all Alberta Environment Department air monitoring stations has been rated as Good,
the highest rating, from 90 to 100 percent of the time during any year.
1049. Alberta maintains high quality ambient and drinking water standards. The province has a
comprehensive water quality program that includes development of source effluent
standards, developing ambient water quality standards, environmental approvals, water
quality monitoring and enforcement.
1050. The Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act governs water treatment and supply
in Alberta. Alberta Environment regulates municipal water treatment and distribution
facilities in Alberta. The federal government is responsible for water treatment on federal
lands and Aboriginal reserves. Water from provincially regulated treatment facilities
must meet Health Canada’s stringent Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality.
1051. Alberta enacted a new Water Act in 1998. The Act changed the focus of water
management from strict allocation of resources to conservation and management guided
by the goal of sustainable development. The Act requires that a strategy for protecting
the aquatic environment be developed for Alberta’s rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and
groundwater. The Act also prohibits bulk exports of water and any new inter-basin
transfers of water.
1052. The Alberta Special Places program was announced in 1995 to complete a network of
parks and protected areas representing the province’s six natural regions and 20 subregions. The program balances the preservation of Alberta’s natural heritage with three
other cornerstone goals: heritage appreciation, outdoor recreation, and tourism and
economic development. Since the program began, nearly 1.3 million hectares of land
have been added to the provincial protected areas network. To date, 76 new protected
areas have been created and 13 existing sites expanded, bringing the total land base
legislatively protected in Alberta to 11.5 percent.
Article 13: Right to Education
1053. Alberta is home to a wide variety of post-secondary institutions located throughout the
province. In addition to Albertans studying in their home province, post-secondary
opportunities for Albertans to study abroad and for foreign students to study in Alberta
are also available and are examples of Alberta’s International Education Strategy at work.
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1054. Reflecting public input, the Government of Alberta considers that higher education costs
should be shared by the taxpayer, parent, and student. Within this context, Alberta offers
a wide range of student financial assistance programs to ensure that financial need in
itself is not a barrier to post-secondary education.
1055. Canada’s Third Report noted the passage in Alberta of the School Amendment Act, 1994.
On March 31, 1998, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the constitutional validity of the
legislation and the Supreme Court of Canada upheld this decision on October 6, 2000.
1056. The Alberta government supports a variety of initiatives designed to enhance Aboriginal
community involvement in the development of culturally relevant education at primary,
secondary and post-secondary levels. The province continues to examine its policies and
programs to reduce the barriers to effective Aboriginal education programs.
1057. Since 1994, Aboriginal Affairs has provided approximately $131,000 to Aboriginal
organizations and communities to support initiatives in the area of education. These
activities have ranged from field trips for Aboriginal students from remote communities
to conferences on Aboriginal education to literary programs. These grants are in addition
to those available from other provincial departments and agencies.
1058. One example is the development of the Peter Bull Memorial Library as part of a new
facility for the Maskwachees Cultural College Foundation operated by the Four Cree
Nations of Hobbema. The College provides cultural and academic programs.
1059. The $100,000 in funding helped the library expand its collections for the student research
centre and the community reference centre. The library’s collection now includes a
unique living history collection of 250 hours of video tapes created by local Elders.
1060. Alberta Community Development is connecting all public libraries to the Internet to
facilitate equitable access to information for all Albertans. Public libraries are also
eligible to be connected to Alberta’s SuperNet, a high-speed fibre optic network being
rolled out over the next three years. Public libraries are also working with colleges and
universities across Alberta to develop seamless access to all publicly funded library
resources. Specialized search engines are being developed to facilitate transparent
searching of the catalogued information. Government libraries are also being approached
to become part of the network. Purchase of licenses to access specialized databases such
as research journals, business data, newspapers and magazines is also part of the
initiative. The overall approach is designed to serve all Albertans no matter where they
live or what their economic circumstance.
Article 15: Right to Take Part in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
1061. Following the introduction of amended human rights legislation in 1996, the Alberta
Multiculturalism Commission (AMC) was discontinued. The most important functions
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of the AMC were transferred to the Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. The
Alberta Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act defines the functions of the
Human Rights and Citizenship Commission as follows:
16(1) It is the function of the Commission
a) to forward the principle that all persons are equal in: dignity, rights and
responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical
disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source
of income or family status. (The Supreme Court of Canada read Sexual
orientation into the Act.),
b) to promote awareness and appreciation of and respect for the multicultural
heritage of Alberta society,
c) to promote an environment in which all Albertans can participate in and
contribute to the cultural, social, economic and political life of Alberta,
d) to encourage all sectors of Alberta society to provide equality of opportunity,
e) to research, develop and conduct educational programs designed to eliminate
discriminatory practices related to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical
disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source
of income or family status,
f) to promote an understanding of, acceptance of and compliance with this Act.
g) to encourage and co-ordinate both public and private human rights programs and
activities, and
h) to advise the Minister on matters related to this Act.
1062. The Act also created the $1.1 million Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism
Fund. The Minister of Community Development established the Advisory Committee on
the Fund to provide advice on spending priorities for the Fund. Financial assistance from
the Fund is available for projects that strive to foster equality and promote fairness and
1063. Since 1994, Alberta Aboriginal Affairs has provided approximately $3.5 million to
Aboriginal organizations and communities to support cultural and academic initiatives.
These activities have ranged from Native Dance training and exhibitions to academic
conferences on a variety of Aboriginal cultural issues. These grants are in addition to
those available from other provincial departments and agencies.
1064. The largest single project was the Treaty Eight Centennial. A celebration of the signing
of the Treaty between the government of Canada and the First Nations in northern
Alberta included an academic conference with workshops on historical and genealogical
research methods.
1065. The Government of Alberta has a new First Nations Sacred Ceremonial Objects
Repatriation Act, which provides the general principles of repatriation and the means for
the Province of Alberta to relinquish any legal claim to sacred ceremonial objects in its
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collections. This will allow complete repatriation of these objects to their First Nation
communities, where that is the community’s desire.
1066. During the fiscal year 1999-2000, $16 million in funding was provided from lotteries to
the Alberta Foundation for the Arts to support the performing, visual, literary and
film/video and cultural industries in Alberta. The first year of an Alberta Foundation for
the Arts administered, three-year program to support film production in Alberta was
completed. The Alberta Film Development Program will provide $5 million annually for
three years to Albertan filmmakers.
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Article 6: Right to Work
1067. The Labour Standards Act and The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993, continue
to be administered by the Department of Labour.
1068. Concerns and complaints regarding labour standards are filed with the Labour Standards
Branch, Department of Labour, and subsequently reviewed by Labour Standards
Officers. Where necessary, Labour Standards has the authority to issue a wage
assessment, which is a legal document that sets out the amount of wages owed to the
1069. In January 1999, the Department of Labour established a Labour Standards Inquiry Call
Centre to provide information on workplace rights and responsibilities. Between
April 1999 and March 2000, the call centre provided information to more than
65,000 people.
1070. Social and demographic changes will affect all workplaces in Saskatchewan. By 2001,
one-quarter of those seeking to enter the work force will be of Aboriginal ancestry. This
will rise to one-half by 2011. To address this issue, the Department of Labour is working
with Aboriginal people and youth to prepare for their entry into the workplace and with
employers to create representative and healthy workplaces.
1071. The Aboriginal Employment Development Program administered by the Department of
Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs was developed in 1992 as a response to the
changing needs of the Aboriginal population. The Program is designed to take a bilateral,
proactive, integrated and focussed approach to promote Aboriginal training and
employment in Saskatchewan, both within the public and private sector.
1072. The Labour-sponsored Venture Capital Corporations Act was established to help
employee groups and individuals create or maintain jobs by contributing to funds which
invest in small and medium Saskatchewan-based businesses administered by the
Saskatchewan Department of Economic and Co-operative Development (SDECD). Once
an eligible venture is incorporated by a labour association and registered with the
Department, employees and individuals qualify for federal and provincial tax credits.
This revenue pool of capital can be used for a range of investments, or to enable
employees to buy all or part of the company for which they work.
1073. The Small Business Loans Association Program Regulations were established to assist
businesses and create jobs by providing loans to small businesses. The SBLA Program
created or maintained 1,607 jobs in fiscal 1999-2000 and 14,600 jobs to date.
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1074. Since 1993, SDECD has provided funding (up to a maximum of $60,000) to the Regional
Economic Development Authorities Initiatives (REDAs). REDAs pool their resources to
support job and wealth creation and undertake activities in co-ordination, organizational
development, entrepreneurial training, diversification research, and business attraction
and retention.
1075. For a 24-month period ending September 16, 2000, SDECD administered the Provincial
Nominee Program pilot project in conjunction with the Government of Canada. Under
the Program, the provincial government has nominated 41 individuals pending to
immigrate to the province who have potential to make a significant economic
contribution. The Provincial Nominee Program may be extended for an additional year
and the maximum number of provincial nominees may be extended to 300.
1076. The Saskatchewan Department of Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training
(PSEST) is developing a Labour Market Planning and Information Strategy to more
effectively link post-secondary education, training and employment services to the
changing needs of Saskatchewan’s labour market.
1077. Saskatchewan’s JobStart/Future Skills Program links workplace and classroom training
to jobs. The Program’s components include:
Work-based Training provides employers with up to 50 percent of approved training
costs for each trainee. The employers provide recognized on-the-job training for new,
full-time positions.
Institutional Quick Response Training provides short-term credit for training to meet
industry needs for qualified employees.
Sector Partnerships funding is provided to implement partnership with trainers and
communities to meet industry’s needs for skilled workers.
1078. The Province’s Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission works to include
members of under-represented groups in apprenticeship and certification programs. The
Commission also works to increase its partnerships with industry, equity groups,
Aboriginal post-secondary institutions and organizations, students, and communities to
increase access to apprenticeship training and certification programs.
1079. Employment programs help unemployed people get the training and work experience
they need to become employed. Employment programs and services include:
Bridging provides programs that may include client assessment, counselling, job
readiness preparation, basic education, entry level skill development work experience,
mentoring. Support for childcare and transportation may also be included.
Work Placement provides wage subsidies or other employment-related costs (i.e. job
coaching, mentoring, specialized equipment) to private and public sector employers
who employ eligible participants.
Community Works helps participants gain meaningful work experience, while
enhancing community facilities or services. The program provides wage subsidies or
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other employment-related costs to community-based organizations and
municipalities. Employers provide job orientation and on-the-job training and assist
with job-placement.
Self-Employment assists participants in successfully operating their own businesses
through classroom instruction, individual consulting, mentoring, or skills workshops.
1080. PSEST has partnered with other agencies in long-term training initiatives to improve the
employment opportunities for people in the northern half of the province, most of whom
are Aboriginal people:
An initiative for the mineral sector, the Multi-Party Training Plan, has been renewed
for a second five-year term from 1998-2003. The Plan is a partnership between
government, mining companies, training institutions, and Aboriginal organizations.
Established to ensure that training is developed and delivered to people in the
northern half of the province to gain or maintain employment in the changing mineral
A new initiative, the Forestry Sector Partnership Agreement, is being developed for
the forestry industry and includes governments, agencies involved in funding and
delivering training, Aboriginal agencies, and industry. This agreement will ensure
that people in the province’s commercial forest regions are prepared for employment
The Northern Training Program funds the development and delivery of mineral and
forestry employment training for northerners through basic skills, pre-employment,
apprenticeship and technical training programs.
1081. Through the Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Agreement, the
province delivers employability-related programs and services for adults with disabilities.
The Government of Canada shares the cost. These programs and services assist people
with disabilities to find and keep jobs through funding for assessments, wage subsidy, job
coaching, specialized transportation, interpreting services, or technical supports, tutors,
note-takers, technical aids, etc. Also, students with certain disabilities who qualify for
student loans are eligible for Federal and Provincial Study Grants. These grants can be
used to cover exceptional expenses related to an individual’s disability, including costs
such as: note-taker, reader, tutor, interpreter, specialized transportation, technical devices,
alternative formats such as large print, Braille, or audiocassette reading, etc.
1082. The Canada-Saskatchewan Career and Employment Services have offices in 20 locations
across the province, providing a range of career and employment services for both job
seekers and employers including career planning, employment counselling, education
upgrading, and recruiting.
1083. The SaskNetWork Web site offers career, education, employment and labour market
information, designed to meet the specific information needs for Saskatchewan. A
unique feature of the site is the new SaskJobs component, the most comprehensive
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provincial system in Canada, which provides job seekers and employers with on-line help
finding work and workers. More than 100,000 users visit the Web site each month,
logging about one million “hits.”
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
Pay equity
1084. Pay equity is a strategy to reduce the wage gap between male and female wages caused
by the systemic discrimination and the under-valuation of work traditionally done by
women. In 1994, the Province decided to implement pay equity in the public sector
through the collective bargaining process.
1085. Beginning in 1997, the Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value and Pay Equity Policy
Framework established minimum standards for pay and internal equity initiatives.
Saskatchewan applies the principle of “equal pay for work of equal value,” which is more
progressive than the concept of equal pay for equal work, previously embodied in human
rights and labour standards legislation.
1086. Implementation of the Framework now covers approximately 60,000 workers in
government departments, Crown Corporations, Treasury Board Agencies, Boards and
Commissions, Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Regional
Colleges and the Health Sector.
Minimum wage
1087. The Labour Standards Act requires the minimum wage to be set by the Saskatchewan
Minimum Wage Board. In 1996, the minimum wage was increased from $5.35 per hour
to $5.60 per hour. On January 1, 1999, the minimum wage increased to $6.00 per hour.
Minimum wage applies to all employees, regardless of age or sex, except workers
employed in farming, ranching or market gardening.
1088. Based on Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, the following is a profile of minimum
wage earners in Saskatchewan for 1997:
16,800 workers, or about 5 percent of the employed labour force, had at least one job
over the course of the year that paid minimum wage. The proportion increased
slightly over the summer months; the proportion was highest in June at 5.9 percent
and lowest in January at 3.1 percent.
62 percent of minimum wage earners were female.
71 percent of minimum wage earners were single.
73 percent of minimum wage workers were 24 years old and under.
About one-third of 15 to 19 year olds who worked in 1997 did so at the minimum
38 percent of minimum wage workers were students for at least part of the year.
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1089. The purchasing power of the minimum wage declined between 1993 and 1995. The
increase of Saskatchewan’s minimum wage to $5.60/hour in 1996 halted the decline and
a further increase to $6.00/hour in 1999 has kept the purchasing power of a minimum
wage income near the level it was in 1992.
1090. Based on a minimum wage of $6.00/per hour, a full-time minimum wage earner would
earn approximately 60 percent more income than the amount paid to the average social
assistance recipient and slightly less than the average unemployment insurance recipient.
Occupational health and safety
1091. In addition to prohibiting workplace harassment on sexual, racial and other grounds and
addressing violence in the workplace, implementation of The Occupational Health and
Safety Act, 1993, prevents accidents by strengthening the framework under which
employers and employees jointly address health and safety issues. The Occupational
Health and Safety Regulations, 1996, carry forward many existing provisions and
updated others to reflect currently accepted safety standards and practices.
1092. In July 1998, the Department of Labour established the Prevention Services Branch to
promote safe, fair, cooperative and productive workplace practices. The branch develops
partnerships with employers, unions, professional associations and educational agencies
to develop ways of preventing workplace problems.
1093. The Prevention Services Branch increases awareness of workers’ rights and
responsibilities. In May 1999, the department introduced the innovative Ready for Work
Program to develop awareness and educational materials on health, safety and provincial
labour standards for young people entering the workforce.
1094. The Department of Labour’s Farm Safety Program, works to prevent accidents through
the promotion of safe work practices on the farm. It provides presentations for schools
and the public, exhibits at trade shows, information for the media, resource information
for the public and a statistical database on Saskatchewan farm fatalities.
1095. The Radiation Health and Safety Act, 1985, protects the health of persons exposed to
radiation and the safety of persons who operate and use radiation producing equipment
and associated apparatuses. Amendments to the Act were passed in April 1996 to
regulate non-ionizing radiation, extend the new ionizing dose limits to all employees,
enable the issuance of codes of practice as recommended by the Radiation Health and
Safety Committee, clarify the regulation-making authority under the Act and clarify the
qualifications for persons permitted to operate x-ray equipment.
Occupational accidents
1096. The Workers’ Compensation Act, 1979, provides for compensation to workers for injuries
and illness sustained in the course of their employment. The Saskatchewan Workers’
Compensation Board (WCB) administers the Act. The WCB is an independent body
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created by provincial legislation to administer the system on behalf of workers and
1097. The following table shows the types and numbers of claims made to the Saskatchewan
Workers’ Compensation Board in selected years:
Type of Claim 1990
Lost Time
13,276 12,615 13,108
No Lost Time 19,721 18,225 18,337
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
1098. The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (LRB) is an independent body created by
provincial legislation to interpret and administer The Trade Union Act, The Construction
Industry Labour Relations Act, 1992, and The Health Labour Relations Reorganization
1099. In 1999, the number of union members in Saskatchewan totaled 117,800, representing
approximately 23 percent of Saskatchewan’s total labour force. Women represented
54 percent of union membership.
1100. The Trade Union Act guarantees employees the right to organize in a trade union to
bargain collectively with their employers. Amendments to the Act, passed in 1994,
enable the LRB to help parties reach a first collective agreement, require changes to
terms and conditions of work to be bargained after a contract has expired, and improve
arbitration and labour relations services. Amendments also specify an employee’s right
to return to work following a strike or lock-out, clarify and enhance successorship rights
of unionized employees and improve remedial powers of the LRB.
1101. The Health Labour Relations Reorganization Act, passed in July 1996, was developed in
response to a request by both employers and unions in the health sector. The legislation
provided for the appointment of a commissioner to examine complex labour relations
issues and make regulations for orderly collective bargaining.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
Income security
1102. Saskatchewan Social Services administers the Saskatchewan Assistance Plan, which
provides a range of income supports and services for those who have little or no income.
1103. Objectives under the Plan are to:
provide basic income support for children, families and individuals to reduce social
and health disadvantages caused by poverty.
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enhance client independence through access to employment, training programs and
other measures.
fund community services that contribute to the social and economic well-being of
low-income children, families and individuals.
1104. Saskatchewan Social Services has agreements with five northern First Nations for
delivery of social assistance to off-reserve Band members living in adjacent communities.
These arrangements advance the partnership approach of service delivery between First
Nations and the provincial government.
Income security redesign
1105. Income security programs underwent a major structural change with the introduction of
Income Security Redesign in 1998, an intergovernmental strategy to address family and
child poverty by removing income-related barriers and disincentives to employment and
providing the necessary supports to enable low income earners to move into and stay in
the workforce.
1106. Due to the array of benefits provided through the single Social Assistance Plan (SAP)
program and the steep tax back rates associated with employment income, many SAP
recipients could not afford to leave social assistance for employment due to loss of
benefits. Redesign has involved simplifying and streamlining SAP along with the
simultaneous introduction of carefully constructed, integrated programs outside the SAP
system, to meet the needs of low income families and to support labour force attachment.
1107. New program initiatives include:
The Saskatchewan Child Benefit provides a monthly allowance to assist lower
income families with child raising costs. In conjunction with the National Child
Benefit Supplement, the SCB extends children’s benefits to all low-income families
whether they are on social assistance or earning a low wage. The SCB will phase out
as the federal program matures through gradually staged increases. Approximately
63 percent of families receiving benefits are single parents and comprise nearly
87 percent of all single-parent families in Saskatchewan.
The Saskatchewan Employment Supplement provides a monthly supplement to
wages, child and/or spousal maintenance payments and self-employment earnings of
lower-income parents. The program assists parents with the child-related costs of
going to work and supports their decision to work. Approximately 70 percent of
families receiving SES benefits are single parents.
The Provincial Training Allowance is a monthly allowance for students enrolled in
adult basic education or related courses. The training allowance replaces social
assistance and includes provisions for child-care and supplementary health benefits.
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Family Health Benefits provide supplementary health benefits to low-income
working families to ensure they do not have to resort to social assistance to provide
for their children’s health.
1108. When completed, the Income Security Redesign (Phase II) will further simplify and
streamline the existing SAP benefit structure and refocus staff resources to activities
which help clients overcome barriers to employment, training and community
participation. Additional areas for interdepartmental and intergovernmental policy and
program development include housing, child-care, supports for disabled persons and
youth in transition, and education and training supports.
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
Saskatchewan’s Action Plan for Children
1109. Implementation of Saskatchewan’s Action Plan for Children has included development of
numerous Child Action Plan Committees that identify priorities and work towards local
solutions. Building on this work, nine Regional Intersectoral Committees (RICs)
facilitate integrated local and regional planning and delivery of services. RIC is
represented by a variety of human service agencies and government departments.
1110. Under The Child Care Act and The Child Care Regulations, child day care services are
delivered through licensed child day care centres and licensed family childcare providers.
The program strives to:
Ensure low-income families have access to child care resources that provide a
healthy, safe and nurturing environment for children.
Provide increased and more flexible range of safe and nurturing childcare options for
low-income families.
Support labour market attachment.
1111. The Child Care Subsidy Program provides a monthly subsidy to licensed childcare
facilities on behalf of children from low-income families to allow parents to participate in
the workforce or receive employment training. The Child Care Grant Programs for
licensed facilities are to ensure the ongoing viability of licensed facilities, allowing the
option of licensed care as one of the continuum of options for parents to choose from.
Family and youth services
1112. The Department of Social Services administers The Child and Family Services Act, The
Child Care Act, The Residential Services Act (dual authority with the Department of
Health), and The Young Offenders’ Services Act. The department provides targeted
support to at-risk families and youth to prevent further family breakdown; child welfare
services to protect children from harm and provide children in the Department’s care with
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appropriate residential and personal services; and community support and custody
programs for young offenders.
1113. In 1994, Social Services began implementing a province-wide Family-Centred Case
Management Model for the delivery of services to children in need of protection.
Recognizing that a healthy family is central to children’s best interests, children and
family members receive appropriate care and treatment in their own homes.
First Nations child and family services
1114. Since 1993, Social Services has been working closely with First Nations to develop child
and family services agencies on Indian reserves. By the end of 1999-2000, there were
17 agencies operating in the province providing a full range of child and family services
to 64 bands. The agencies have full authority to provide all services outlined in The
Child and Family Services Act for their band members living on reserve.
Child prostitution
1115. In 1997, Social Services helped develop an interdepartmental strategy to address child
prostitution. The five-point strategy involves public information, outreach services to
sexually exploited youth, tracking and monitoring systems, stricter law enforcement
policies, and monitoring provincial and federal legislation.
Support for disabled persons
1116. The Office of Disability Issues (ODI) was established in September 1998, to focus and
coordinate government initiatives on disability issues. The ODI works closely with the
Saskatchewan Council on Disability Issues and has held province-wide consultations to
develop a Saskatchewan Disability Action Plan.
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
1117. The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) is responsible for ensuring that
Saskatchewan people have access to adequate, affordable housing. In 1999-2000, SHC
administered approximately 31,470 units of assisted and affordable housing.
Approximately 19,000 of these households are Government subsidized. The remaining
12,470 units are affordable units rented at the low end of market rents. These units are in
addition to approximately 30,000 low-income households that are assisted directly
through Social Services’ income security shelter allowance programs.
1118. Since 1997, as part of its continuing commitment to housing needs, SHC has delivered
225 new family housing units in northern communities. In southern Saskatchewan, since
1997, the province has added 591 family housing units including 136 social housing units
and 455 affordable housing units acquired and renovated for low-income families.
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Saskatchewan’s housing situation
1119. The most critical housing needs in Saskatchewan exist in the Province’s north. The 1996
Census Survey reported that in the north, about 27.5 percent of the houses were in need
of major repairs compared to only 9 percent of houses for the Province as a whole.
1120. Since 1986, the Core Housing Need Model has been used to measure housing need across
the country. This model assesses a household’s housing situation against basic standards
of affordability, adequacy and suitability in relation to its income. Households failing
one or more of these standards and having incomes below the level needed to acquire
appropriate housing are determined to be in core need. In 1996, there were
approximately 46,000 households in Saskatchewan that fell below these standards.
Enabling strategies
1121. According to the Statistics Canada 1996 Census, there are approximately
22,475 Aboriginal off-reserve households in Saskatchewan. It is estimated that
approximately 8,155, or 36.2 percent of all off-reserve Aboriginal households are in Core
Need (as defined above). Approximately 13 percent of all non-Aboriginal households are
in core need.
1122. The Métis Urban Housing Association of Saskatchewan (MUHAS) is an umbrella
organization of six Métis non-profit corporations that manage urban housing units located
in six provincial centres. These six groups along with one non-affiliated non-profit
corporation manage 1,515 social housing units that were delivered under the Urban
Native (U.N. 1,362 units) and the Indian Ancestry (I.A. 153 units) programs. These
programs were targeted to low-income Aboriginal households. Namerind Housing, a
non-affiliated non-profit, manages the remaining 296 units (248 U.N. & 48 I.A.).
1123. In addition, approximately 696 Urban Native and 309 Indian Ancestry housing units are
being managed by Aboriginal groups in at least eight provincial centres. Effective
January 1, 1997, as part of the Federal Transfer Agreement, the administrative
responsibility for these units was transferred back to the Government of Canada.
1124. SHC and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan (MNS), have developed a manager training
program to enhance the skills of northern people in preparation for their longer term
involvement in housing. It is intended that graduates of this program will bring their
skills to local community housing authorities.
1125. To enable greater community involvement in housing and provide local employment,
community-based housing authorities were established throughout northern
Saskatchewan starting in 1995. At present, there are eight community-based
organizations (CBOs) managing SHC units in the north. They include seven housing
authorities and 1 non-profit housing corporation managing a total of 1,146 units. Most
Board and management positions on northern housing authorities are Aboriginal.
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Provincially funded programs
1126. The Home Modification for the Disable Program assists people with disabilities and
limited financial resources to adapt their homes to accommodate their disability.
1127. The Social Housing Homeowner Emergency Repairs Program assists social housing
homeowner clients with emergency repairs through a forgivable grant.
1128. The Accelerated Homeownership and Repair Option provides northern Homeowner
Program clients living in remote communities with a mortgage discount on the original
mortgage value of the home up to the maximum of $50,000 and a matching forgivable
loan for repairs.
1129. The Rental Purchase Option provides long term northern assisted housing clients with an
opportunity to own their own homes by providing up to a $50,000 grant.
1130. Saskatchewan Assisted Living Services provide an option to low income tenants in senior
social housing to maintain their independence and to remain living in their homes.
1131. The Remote Housing Program provides northern low-income households an opportunity
to own their own affordable, suitable housing through funding to assist with construction
costs. Families are encouraged to provide sweat equity to further reduce construction
1132. The Rental Market Assistance Program provides ten-year forgivable grants to northern
non-profit and private developers to construct, own and operate rental housing projects.
1133. The Saskatchewan Department of Economic and Co-operative Development (SDECD)
launched the Neighbourhood Development Organization (NDO) initiative in 1998 to
assist groups and individuals from low-income, inner-city neighbourhoods to address
community economic development needs and opportunities.
1134. In 1998, SDECD introduced the Co-operative Development Assistance Program to
provide financial support to non-profit and for-profit co-operatives up to a maximum of
$10,000. The program has supported the establishment of co-operatives for home care,
seniors’ homes, transportation, bulk food buying, healing, counselling and women’s
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
1135. Saskatchewan is guided by provincial and national health legislation to attain all of the
rights enshrined in Article 12.
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Primary health care
1136. In September 1997, Saskatchewan Health launched the Primary Health Services’
Initiative to promote the development of primary health service sites on a voluntary basis.
The sites are to demonstrate the benefits of a new integrated delivery model for basic
health services with the goal to improve population health and ensure a sustainable health
system by:
developing a more client-centred approach
focusing on individual and population health needs
fostering integration and co-ordination of services
encouraging a team approach to health services delivery
supporting continuity of care including prevention, promotion, early intervention,
treatment, rehabilitation, supportive and palliative care
strengthening role of disease prevention and health promotion
increasing individual and community involvement in program development and
linking health services with other community services; and providing services based
on evidence of positive health outcomes
1137. The conceptual framework for the Initiative is based on the World Health Organization’s
definition for primary health care.
1138. Saskatchewan Health has established the Primary Health Services Branch to facilitate the
development of primary health services in the province. Presently 18 pilot sites have
been established and discussions are underway to establish several more sites. The sites
use nurses in an expanded role through a transfer of medical function model. The
government is looking at Regulation changes to allow Registered Nurses/Nurse
Practitioners to take on new responsibilities.
Health spending
1139. Saskatchewan’s expenditures on health (both public and private) in 1999 was
10.4 percent of its GDP. Saskatchewan is expected to spend $1.92 billion dollars on
health care in this fiscal year, approximately 38 percent of the provincial budget.
WHO indicators
Infant mortality
1140. Saskatchewan’s infant mortality rate has declined from 8.4 per 1,000 live births in 1995
to 5.6 per 1,000 live births in 1999. In 1998, the most recent year that national statistics
on this indicator were available, Canada’s national infant mortality rate was 5.7 per
1,000 live births. In comparison, Saskatchewan’s infant mortality rate for 1998 was 6.4
per 1,000 live births.
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Population access to safe water and sewage facilities
1141. Almost all residents in Saskatchewan have access to safe water and excreta disposal
facilities (both rural and urban). However, there are some remote northern rural
communities that have some challenges. The Department of Health is working towards
solutions in these areas.
Infants immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles, poliomyelitis and tuberculosis
1142. There is currently no reliable data on immunization of infants provincially. However,
Saskatchewan will have better data soon with the new Saskatchewan Immunization
Management System (SIMS), a computer system that will provide comprehensive
immunization reporting in the future.
Life expectancy
1143. In 1999, Saskatchewan’s average life expectancy was 78.5 years. Life expectancy for
males born in 1999 was 75.4 years. For females, it was 81.8 years.
Proportion of the population having access to trained personnel for the treatment of common
diseases and injuries, with regular supply of 20 essential drugs, within one hour’s walk to travel
1144. In terms of travel time (by vehicle) to the nearest hospital, this is the percentage
breakdown currently:
68.5 percent have a travel time of less than 10 minutes
11.4 percent have a travel time of 10–20 minutes
9.3 percent have a travel time of 20–30 minutes
5.5 percent have a travel time of 30–40 minutes
1.9 percent have a travel time of 40–50 minutes
1.2 percent have a travel time of 50–60 minutes
1.4 percent have a travel time of more than 60 minutes
Aboriginal people
1145. First Nation and Métis people in Saskatchewan have significantly more health problems,
infant mortality rates, child injury rates, etc.
1146. To improve the health of Aboriginal people, Saskatchewan is developing mutually
beneficial working relationships between government and First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
people, along with culturally sensitive health services, strong prevention and promotion
strategies, and indirect interventions such as implementation of education and training
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1147. Saskatchewan Health has recently been involved in an interdepartmental committee to
develop a Métis and Off-Reserve First Nations Strategy as the result of a growing
awareness of Aboriginal challenges.
1148. Saskatchewan’s goal is to improve the health needs of Métis and off-reserve First Nations
People such that their health status approximates that of the non-Aboriginal population in
20 years. In pursuit of this goal, Saskatchewan Health has:
Reviewed the health status of Métis and off-reserve First Nations people through the
Population Health Survey (conducted in 1998-99). The survey results will contain
aggregate information on Métis and First Nations People and will assist in
establishing benchmarks to measure future health status. Results will be available in
Begun working with remote northern First Nations communities that have their own
health services to better meet their health needs. This includes funding the Northern
Health District to contract with an on-reserve health clinic to provide services to offreserve people.
Continued to work with the Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (MACSI)
to provide a full range of addictions treatment services.
Begun working on a broad Aboriginal health strategy.
Continued to support preventative education programs for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
(FAS) and Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE).
Continued to fund and consult to the ‘Successful Mothers Support Program’ which
provides services to disadvantaged families and their young children.
Continued to fund and co-ordinate the “High Risk and Violent Young Offender
Initiative,” which has been implemented in five health districts to enhance health
services for Aboriginals.
Continued to support and co-ordinate the “Youth Suicide Intervention and Trauma
Response Program,” which supports a network of mental health professionals in
11 health districts.
Worked to enhance podiatry services to provide prevention, consultative and
treatment services to people with endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases,
including diabetes.
1149. To determine whether the goal of improved individual and community well-being of
Métis and off-reserve First Nations people is being met Saskatchewan Health will
monitor the Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) of Métis and off-reserve First Nations
people over the next 20 years. It is hoped that through the above initiatives, the rate of
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PYLL for Métis and off-reserve First Nations people will match the rate of PYLL for the
mainstream population within two decades.
Infant mortality and child development
1150. The government of Saskatchewan has undertaken a number of initiatives/activities to
reduce the stillbirth rate and infant mortality rate, and to provide for healthy child
Health service and outcome indicators for mothers and infants have been developed
and collection of data and analysis is planned over the next couple of years.
Indicators include prenatal care, avoidable hospitalization of infants, adolescent
pregnancy, infant mortality, and at-risk birth-weight.
Preventative education programs are in place relating to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
(FAS)/Fetal Alcohol Effect (FAE). Included are an education program targeted at the
female population, community development initiatives targeted specifically to First
Nations communities, and secondary prevention demonstration projects in rural
Saskatchewan which target prevention and intervention efforts to at-risk and
chemically dependent women.
The Early Skills Development Program is an effective early intervention program for
very aggressive Kindergarten and Grade 1 children including Aboriginal children.
The evaluation phase will be complete within one year and the two current sites could
be used to serve as training sites for any expansion to other areas of the province.
The Early Childhood Program in the Pipestone Health district is a three-year project
funded by Health Canada, Pipestone Health District and SaskTel to demonstrate the
effectiveness of the Hawaii Healthy Start home visiting family support program for
disadvantaged families with newborns, including Aboriginal families.
The Successful Mothers Support Program is an effective early intervention home
visiting family support program providing services in 15 sites across the province to
disadvantaged families and their young children, including Aboriginal people. The
program provides some of the existing service delivery structure to support the early
home visiting family support component of the provincial and federal Early
Childhood Development Program being implemented.
Epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases
1151. The government of Saskatchewan has been able to work collaboratively with Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal people in controlling communicable diseases and linking prevention
and treatment activities. Government and Aboriginal organizations have been able to
work collaboratively to meet labour standards.
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Universal health care
1152. Saskatchewan has a publicly funded health care system based on the principles of
universality, accessibility and portability. The government maintains and adheres to
these principles.
1153. Saskatchewan continues to provide insured medical services to all of its residents
regardless of age. The province’s human rights legislation prohibits any discrimination
based on age, sex, religion etc. related to the provision of health services.
Community participation
1154. Primary health services sites have been established in several communities, a key element
of which is community involvement in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services.
Health Districts, operated by boards composed mostly of locally elected members,
manage most core services. Residents can provide input or voice concerns directly to the
District through the Quality Care Co-ordinators or to the Department of Health.
Health education
1155. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health and Saskatchewan Health Districts provide health
education services to the public through health providers, communications about health
issues, media releases regarding specific health challenges such as smoking, and through
district newsletters.
Economic and co-operative development
1156. Further to the right of everyone to a high standard of physical health, SDECD will
provide $1,250,000 over a five-year period to the Health Services Utilization and
Research Commission. Funding will be used for the Saskatchewan Regional Partnership
Program established by the Medical Research Council of Canada, to support health
research projects in Saskatchewan.
Environmental and industrial hygiene
1157. There are very few issues related to environmental and industrial hygiene in
Saskatchewan. There are some water and sewage challenges in some remote
communities in Northern Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan Health continues to work on
solutions for these challenges.
1158. The following projects were funded by Saskatchewan Economic and Co-operative
Development’s Strategic Investment Fund:
$307,588 was provided for equipment for the Environmental Quality Analysis
Laboratory. The project’s mandate is to promote, sustain and restore the
environmental quality of soil, water and air.
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$98,390 was spent for equipment to be used for research on toxin- and odourproducing algal blooms in inland waters.
$465,000 was granted to POS Pilot Plant Corporation, a private non-profit contract
research and development facility serving the agri-food industry. The plant
improvement will reduce environmental contamination and ensure the production of
safe, high-quality food products.
$117,800 was expended for equipment for the University of Saskatchewan’s
Toxicology Centre to be used in examining metal contamination of surface water, soil
and sediments, and toxicity testing of new pesticides.
1159. The Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement has committed
$3 million to the International Test Centre for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Capture to be
located at the University of Regina. The Test Centre will allow Canada to take a
leadership role in reducing CO2 emissions and will help the country meet the
commitments of the Kyoto Protocol.
Article 13: Right to Education
1160. In 1999-2000, there were approximately 190,000 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students in
830 schools.
1161. Saskatchewan Education provides a number of supports to improve access and success
rates for Aboriginal children, including:
Thirty-one urban Community Schools with 44 pre-kindergarten programs providing
culturally affirming supports and learning opportunities.
Ten Northern Community Schools and five Community Education projects. The
Northern Community Schools Program is built on the Community Schools Program
but is adapted to reflect the strengths and challenges of northern communities.
Locally-developed Indian and Métis education projects, as well as Elder and outreach
An Integrated Services Program to support at-risk students and their families with
holistic, co-ordinated human services. The program targets children and youth facing
multiple risk factors, youth not attending school and children and youth with
emotional, behavioural or social problems.
The Northern Expenditure Allowance, a factor of approximately 1.31, which is
applied to the recognized expenditures of northern school divisions.
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The Foundation Operating Grant supports Aboriginal children by providing
additional funding for the English as a Second Language Program, providing targeted
funding for northern school divisions to address unique needs of northern students
through the Northern Student Retention Program, and by funding alternate schools to
respond to unique student needs.
Specific efforts to ensure that curriculum and evaluation methods accurately reflect
and respond to the needs of Aboriginal people. For example, Aboriginal content and
perspectives are included in all curricula. Partnerships with Aboriginal leaders to
develop Native Studies and Aboriginal languages curricula ensure relevant
instructional materials and learning technologies.
The Indian and Métis Education Staff Development Program to provide teacher inservice and Special Education professional development.
The Aboriginal Education Provincial Advisory Committee makes recommendations
for improving the Core Curriculum, educational programs, partnership initiatives,
equity issues and policy.
1162. The main function of the Official Minority Language Office is the development, piloting
and implementation of curricula for Core French, French immersion programs and
Fransaskois schools.
Education equity
1163. In 1994, Saskatchewan Education, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, the
League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents, the Saskatchewan
School Trustees Association, and the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation released Our
Children, Our Communities and Our Future, Equity in Education: A Policy Framework.
This document outlined a framework for ensuring that all students and adults have the
opportunity to participate fully and to experience success and human dignity while
developing the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to contribute meaningfully to
Right to higher education
1164. Post-secondary institutions and the Department have developed a five-year Technology
Enhanced Learning Action Plan to address social and economic challenges through
advanced education and training in rural and northern communities, through retaining
students, graduates and faculty for a knowledge-based society, and through enhancing
Métis and First Nations peoples’ education and training.
1165. The department and post-secondary institutions are developing detailed designs for the
following initiatives:
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A Saskatchewan Virtual Campus to increase access to an expanded array of online
courses and other programs through a Web site portal, improved credit transfer
among institutional offerings, and linkages to related online services such as career
and job information, student financial aid, and course registration.
A Network of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Services in urban, rural and
northern locations assisting students to access TEL opportunities.
1166. Saskatchewan has a strategy to support equity initiatives in education. The Universities
and SIAST have implemented equity initiatives. SIAST was the first Canadian
institution to have a comprehensive Education Equity Plan approved and monitored by a
provincial Human Rights Commission.
1167. The Government of Saskatchewan provides needs-based income support to qualified
students enrolled in approved post-secondary courses of study, under three programs:
The Saskatchewan Student Assistance Program provides financial assistance in the
form of loans, bursaries, and study grants to needy students enrolled in postsecondary programs of study. This program features a Special Incentive Plan, which
provides supplementary bursary assistance and loan remission to eligible students
from disadvantaged groups. In addition, an Interest Relief Plan provides interest
relief and deferred payments for students unable to repay their loans due to low
The Provincial Training Allowance Program provides grant assistance to low-income
adult students enrolled in basic education and related studies, short skill courses, and
bridging programs, to assist with living costs. Students are also provided with
supplemental health coverage.
The Skills Training Benefit Program provides financial assistance to people eligible
for federal Employment Insurance and enrolled in training programs. The program is
designed to help people with their transition back to work and is managed by the
1168. Basic Education for adults includes one or more of the following components: basic
literacy, traditional academic studies, English as a Second Language, and life skills and
employability skills training. Basic Education is delivered through SIAST, regional
colleges, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, and Dumont Technical Institute.
1169. The Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program, the Northern Teacher
Education Program, and the Northern Professional Access College all promote access to
education and training for Aboriginal people in a culturally sensitive environment.
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Article 15: Right to Participate in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
1170. In March 1999, the Saskatchewan Department of Economic and Co-operative
Development (SDECD) gave $1.2 million to the Eastend Community Tourism Authority
to construct a tourism and research facility called the Eastend Tyrannosaurus Rex
Interpretive Centre.
1171. SDECD’s Strategic Investment Fund ($5.9 million annual) encourages the development
of new technologies and research infrastructure.
1172. SDECD is providing $25 million over five years towards the Canadian Light Source, a
synchrotron light facility at the University of Saskatchewan. The $140.9 million facility
will serve industrial and academic users from across Canada and will focus on research
investigation in four key areas: biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals and medicine, mining,
natural resources and the environment, advanced materials and manufacturing, and
telecommunications and information technology.
1173. Close to $20 million of Canada-Saskatchewan Western Economic Partnership Agreement
funding has been committed to existing and new research centers including the Petroleum
Technology Research Centre, the Saskatchewan Structural Sciences Centre (which will
provide complementary research to the Canadian Light Source Synchrotron), the
International Test Centre for Carbon Dioxide Capture, the Estey Centre for Law and
Economics in International Trade, and the expansion to the National Research Council’s
Plant Biotechnology Institute.
1174. The Innovation and Science Fund is a $10 million fund to provide funding to
Saskatchewan universities, colleges, and research institutes in support of projects
receiving approval and funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canada
Research Chairs, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, and the provincial
portion of the Medical Research Council Regional Partnership Program or its successor
under the newly established Canadian Institutes for Health Research. (These are all
federal government research grants). The Innovation and Science Fund will be
administered by SDECD and project funding will commence in fiscal 2000-2001.
1175. The Saskatchewan Multiculturalism Act, 1997 reaches beyond the traditional concept of
multiculturalism to address the social justice issues of society, such as racism, equity, and
equal access to opportunity. The Act provides that it is the policy of the Government of
Saskatchewan to “promote policies, programs and practices that enhance intercultural
understanding and respect for the diversity of Saskatchewan people.”
1176. The Department of Municipal Affairs, Culture and Housing supports the following
Royal Saskatchewan Museum (natural history and Aboriginal history)
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Western Development Museum (economic and cultural development of western
Wanuskewin Heritage Park (cultural legacy of Northern Plains Indians)
Saskatchewan Science Centre (learning and literacy about science)
Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts (performing arts)
Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation (heritage resource conservation, restoration,
interpretation and promotion)
Saskatchewan Arts Board (creation, presentation, appreciation, collection and study
of the arts)
Saskatchewan Archives Board (historical records)
MacKenzie Art Gallery (visual art collection, exhibition and research)
SaskFilm (film industry development)
Cultural industries development (recording, book publishing and crafts development)
1177. Lottery funding is an important part of the public resources used to support the provision
of sport, culture and recreation in Saskatchewan. It directly supports the activities of
urban, rural and northern municipalities, First Nations and other Aboriginal organizations
and, in addition, non-government organizations providing programs and services in this
area. Proceeds from Saskatchewan Lotteries are granted directly to approximately
1,200 sport, culture, recreation and community groups in the province which, in turn,
distribute the funds to more than 12,000 volunteer non-profit groups.
1178. The Associated Entities Fund (later called the Community Initiatives Fund) was created
by the Government of Saskatchewan in 1994 to distribute a portion of casino profits to
regional exhibition associations, to Métis organizations for community-based business
development, and to non-profit community groups providing programs and services for
vulnerable children, youth and families.
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Article 2: Rights Specifically Subject to Non-Discrimination
Manitoba Human Rights Commission
1179. The Manitoba Human Rights Code (see
ccsm/h175e.php) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a number of characteristics,
including “source of income.” Other protected grounds are ancestry, nationality, ethnic
origin, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), gender-determined characteristics, sexual
orientation, marital or family status, political belief and physical or mental disability.
Discrimination is prohibited in employment, services, rental of premises, contracts and
purchase of real estate. Harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic is also
1180. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission has a mandate to enforce The Human Rights
Code. The Commission uses international human rights conventions, including the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to help interpret the
substantive content of the Code.
1181. From 1994 to 1999, the following number of formal complaints were filed with the
Manitoba Human Rights Commission on the basis of “source of income:”
1994 — 3; 1995 — 1; 1996 — 2; 1997 — 0; 1998 — 4; 1999 — 1.
Persons living with a mental disability
1182. In October 1996, The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act (the
“Vulnerable Persons Act”) ( came
into force in Manitoba, after extensive province-wide public consultations. The Act is
designed to promote and protect the rights of adults living with a mental disability who
require assistance in meeting their basic needs and recognizes these Manitobans as
“vulnerable persons.” The Act complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms and contains a prominently placed statement of principles which helps in its
1183. The Vulnerable Persons Act:
requires that actions taken to assist vulnerable persons or to protect their rights be
carried out in a manner which respects their privacy and dignity;
creates a comprehensive legal framework for the development of a wide range of
policies, programs and services for vulnerable persons;
introduces services to protect vulnerable persons from abuse and neglect;
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recognizes the role of others (including family members) in assisting vulnerable
persons to make decisions affecting their lives;
provides for the appointment of substitute decision-makers for vulnerable persons if
they are unable to make decisions about their personal care or management of their
property; and
contains provisions that make it very difficult to place a vulnerable person in a
developmental centre.
1184. The Vulnerable Persons Act establishes the position of Vulnerable Persons
Commissioner to administer the provisions dealing with the substitute decision-making.
The Commissioner is subject to a number of checks and balances, built into the Act to
protect the decision-making rights of vulnerable persons including:
review of an application for a substitute decision maker by a hearing panel;
limiting the powers which can be granted to a substitute decision maker to those areas
where the vulnerable person is not able to make decisions;
time limits on, and regular reviews of, appointments;
the right to appeal the Commissioner’s decision to court.
1185. From 1996 to 1999, the Vulnerable Persons Commissioner’s office was also responsible
for reviewing approximately 1,600 persons who had been placed under orders of
supervision under the former Mental Health Act provisions. Under these orders, the
Public Trustee of Manitoba was responsible for making all personal and property
decisions affecting these persons. As a result of the reviews:
the Commissioner dismissed or rescinded the orders on 163 persons as they were
determined to be able to make decisions on their own or with the assistance of their
support networks;
another 77 persons were found to have been inappropriately designated as mentally
disabled or were no longer resident in Manitoba;
substitute decision-makers with very limited powers were appointed for
1,259 individuals — approximately 700 of these individuals were living in
developmental centres at the time.
1186. The “In the Company of Friends” program also enhances the right of adults with a mental
disability to make their own decisions. Started as a pilot project in 1993 and given nonpilot status in 1997, the Program provides adults with a mental disability with the
opportunity to manage their own lives through supported decision-making by linking
individuals to volunteer support networks in the community and by providing funding to
give individuals the flexibility to develop or purchase services and supports appropriate
to their unique desires and needs. Individuals choosing to use the “In the Company of
Friends” program manage their own lives with support from family and friends. If an
individual does not have natural supports, a formal support network is developed for him
or her.
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Aboriginal Community Law Office
1187. In late 1995, Legal Aid Manitoba opened its Aboriginal Community Law Office to deal
with issues unique to, and common to, Aboriginal people including Aboriginal rights,
civil rights, housing issues and education and health services. In addition, the Office is a
resource for individuals aggrieved by racism and discrimination, as well as violations of
their human and civil rights.
1188. The Aboriginal Community Law Office provides legal services in a manner which is
consistent with the traditions and values of Aboriginal people. This includes attempting
to resolve legal problems through non-adversarial means and by consensus. Where
relationships between individuals or organizations have been damaged, healing and
reconciliation are emphasized.
1189. Over the past several years the Aboriginal Community Law Office has attempted to
concentrate on important public interest cases as well as on cases important to
Article 3: Equal Rights of Women and Men
1190. During the reporting period, the Manitoba Women’s Directorate continued to represent
women’s interests by informing government of the impact of its programs and policies
and identifying and communicating emerging issues. The Directorate also worked to
secure the inclusion of women’s priorities in Manitoba public policy, thereby securing
more equitable outcomes.
Article 6: Right to Work
The Employment and Income Assistance Act
1191. In 1996, Manitoba’s social assistance system was refocused to have two major
to assist Manitobans to regain their financial independence by helping them to make
the transition from income assistance to work; and
to provide income assistance to Manitobans in financial need.
1192. The legislation governing the social assistance system was changed from The Social
Allowances Act to The Employment and Income Assistance Act (see, in part, to reflect a stronger
commitment to help people in financial need to meet their needs through employment.
1193. This new legislation also set the stage to simplify the social assistance system by moving
from a two-tier system in the City of Winnipeg — where both the Province and the City
delivered assistance in the City — to having just the Province deliver assistance in the
City (a one-tier system). Following a review of best business practices and a re-design of
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the delivery system for assistance, a one-tier system was implemented in the City of
Winnipeg in April 1999. This contributed to effective planning for, and the streamlining
of access to, employment opportunities and financial assistance.
1194. Since 1996, various programs, partnerships and measures have been introduced and
refined to help program participants build financial independence from the social
assistance system. Programs and partnerships are broad-based, and include Manitoba
government departments (such as Family Services and Housing and Advanced Education
and Training), other levels of government, private-based agencies and employers.
1195. In Manitoba, all non-disabled program participants and single parents with children over
the age of six years are expected to develop a plan for entering the work force. Single
parents with children under the age of six years and persons with disabilities are also
encouraged to pursue a goal of employment. There are financial incentives to work, as
social assistance payments may continue to supplement employment income.
1196. Through departments such as Advanced Education and Training, the Manitoba
government explores ways to extend social assistance payments to people while they are
receiving training or education leading to a diploma or certification.
Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Agreement
1197. In addition to providing enhanced employment supports to persons receiving social
assistance, Manitoba also provided a range of employment supports to persons with
disabilities. During the reporting period, Manitoba signed the Employability Assistance
for People with Disabilities Agreement — a new five-year federal/provincial cost-sharing
agreement with the Government of Canada — which was effective April 1, 1998 through
to March 31, 2003. This Agreement replaced another longstanding cost-sharing
arrangement — the Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Agreement.
1198. More employment-focussed than its predecessor, the Employability Assistance for People
with Disabilities Agreement emphasized accountability, outcomes and evaluation. Under
the Agreement, Manitoba recovered from the Government of Canada 50 percent of
eligible provincial expenditures (up to $7.914 million annually) made on behalf of adults
with a disability who were seeking gainful employment. Through several departments,
programs and service delivery mechanisms, Manitoba was able to provide funding for
work assessment, work training, on-the-job training, employment follow-up, educational
funding, disability equipment and special supports to assist adults with a physical,
psychological, mental, sensory or learning disability to prepare for, maintain and retain
gainful employment.
Training initiatives
1199. The Manitoba government continued to extend opportunities for access to specialized
training and upgrading programs to increase job readiness to groups which historically
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have been under-represented in the workforce, including Aboriginal people, women,
social assistance recipients and low-income earners.
1200. Manitoba is committed to conducting training in communities, wherever possible. This is
a departure from previous practices which required Northern First Nations people to
leave their homes to attend campus-based training.
Technical, vocational and other training for women
1201. One goal of the Manitoba Women’s Directorate is to enhance the capacity of Manitoba
women to attain economic self-sufficiency or economic security. To this end, during the
reporting period, the following initiatives were introduced.
1202. Trade Up to Your Future is a pre-trades training program to help women enter “nontraditional” career areas. The Program encourages women to consider employment in the
skilled trades, prepares them for work in an industrial setting, increases the number of
women apprentices and increases the number of women in high demand, well-paid
employment by providing pre-employment training and subsidized work experience
placements. The initial pilot project resulted, in September of 1999, in 14 graduates
being employed in well-paying career-oriented occupations.
1203. Power Up, a computer literacy training initiative, promotes the importance of technology
for women in today’s society and the marketplace and provides training in a nonthreatening environment that will build computer and Internet skills for adult women.
From 1999 to December 2001, almost 5,000 women attended Power Up courses —
almost exactly half lived in Winnipeg, and half in rural or northern Manitoba, where
courses were offered in more than 70 communities. Due to high demand, the Program
was extended past its original two-year commitment for a third year.
New immigrants
1204. The Canada-Manitoba Immigration Agreement (1996) established immigration as a
shared responsibility of the Government of Canada and the Government of Manitoba.
Manitoba provides supports to immigrants to fully contribute to Manitoba’s society,
economy and culture. The 1998 Annex on Settlement Services gave Manitoba primary
responsibility in the delivery of settlement services for new immigrants. In 1999,
Manitoba allocated over $4.5 million to settlement services and adult “English as a
Second Language” services. Settlement services provide initial orientation, employment
preparation and placement, assistance with qualifications recognition and wellness
supports. Adult “English as a Second Language” services assist immigrants in achieving
their goals for work, school and living in the community.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
1205. The legislated minimum wage in Manitoba was increased from $5.25 an hour (July 1995)
to $6.00 an hour (April 1999) by amendments to the Minimum Wages and Working
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Conditions Regulation under The Employment Standards Code (formerly The
Employment Standards Act).
1206. In 1997, The Workplace Safety and Health Act (see was amended to increase fine
levels under the Act tenfold — from $15,000 to $150,000 for a first offence, and from
$30,000 to $300,000 for a second or subsequent offence.
1207. Amendments made in 1998 to the First Aid Regulation under The Workplace Safety and
Health Act extended coverage to all workers (not just workers covered by workers’
compensation) and based requirements for first aid supplies and training on potential
hazards and distance to a medical facility, in addition to the size of the workplace (rather
than size of workplace only).
1208. In response to fatalities involving the operation of forklifts, the Workplace Safety
Regulation (under The Workplace Safety and Health Act) was amended in 1999 to
provide for training and certification of forklift operators in accordance with a Code of
Practice issued under the Act.
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
1209. In 1996, The Labour Relations Act (see
ccsm/l010e.php) was amended to establish certain rights of employees with regard to
their union, including:
the right to inspect the union’s annual financial statements and compensation
the right to choose whether any portion of the employee’s union dues may be used for
political purposes; and
the right of all employees in a bargaining unit to vote by secret ballot to ratify or
reject any proposed collective agreement.
1210. The 1996 amendments also provided for a secret ballot certification vote where at least
40 percent of employees in a bargaining unit support unionization.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
1211. Under Article 6, reference has already been made to Manitoba’s legislation respecting the
provision of financial assistance to Manitobans in need (The Employment and Income
Assistance Act). Until 1999, Manitoba had a two-tier system of assistance across the
Province. Municipalities provided assistance to non-disabled people who were single,
childless couples or two-parent families with children, in accordance with a provincial
regulation. The Province provided assistance to single parents and to persons with
disabilities. In 1999, a one-tier system was introduced in the City of Winnipeg for all
client groups. Municipalities outside of Winnipeg are currently being consulted about
extending this one-tier system across the entire Province.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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1212. Manitoba has been, and continues to be, an active participant in federal/provincial/
territorial discussions respecting funding and joint initiatives that preserve and advance
the social security of all citizens. These multilateral discussions promote the effective
planning and co-ordination of social security measures, and include such areas as early
childhood development, labour market development and training initiatives, and income
and disability-related supports for persons with disabilities (see Introduction for
additional information on these initiatives).
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
1213. During the reporting period, the Manitoba government introduced a number of initiatives
designed to enhance the protection of families, mothers and children. These initiatives
included changes to child welfare legislation and enhancements to family supports, child
day care and preventative child and family services.
Children and Youth Secretariat
1214. The Children and Youth Secretariat was established in 1994 to provide leadership and
focus for a new partnership across government departments and Manitoba communities.
Staff from the departments of Health, Family Services, Justice, Culture, Heritage and
Citizenship, Education and Training, and Northern and Native Affairs, were seconded to
the Secretariat to coordinate a wide ranging series of consultations involving virtually
every Manitoba government department, community groups across the Province,
educators, experts in Early Childhood Development, Aboriginal groups, parents, and
young people themselves.
1215. Based on these consultations, the Manitoba government announced Manitoba’s
ChildrenFirst Plan, which reflected the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child — “Manitoba children and youth will have first call on the resources they need to
develop into productive adults.” The ChildrenFirst Plan identified four major policy
focusing on the early years;
strengthening families and communities;
recognizing and respecting Aboriginal culture; and
reducing barriers to providing coordinated, outcome-based services for children and
Child and family services
1216. In 1994-1995, the Family Support Innovations Fund was created as one of several policy
and funding initiatives of the Department of Family Services and Housing to support a
strategic shift in the delivery of child and family services in Manitoba. This strategic
shift would be used to support the delivery of preventive and early intervention services
based on the values of family preservation and permanency, family support and family
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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responsibility. The Fund supported projects with the objective of reducing the number of
children coming into care and their length of stay, or returning children to the care of
their natural families or an alternative permanent home.
1217. In 1996, public hearings were held across Manitoba as part of the process for change to
child and family services legislation. As a result:
A separate Act was created to govern adoption and post-adoption services — The
Adoption Act (see This Act
enabled the licensing of private adoption agencies, financial subsidies for families
adopting children with special needs and openness agreements between birth and
adopting families, and expanded post-adoption services.
The Child and Family Services Act (see
ccsm/c080e.php) was amended to establish the Children’s Advocate as an
independent officer of the Legislative Assembly (discussed below).
Changes to the Child Abuse Registry process in The Child and Family Services Act
were introduced that gave responsibility for notification and registration to local
committees, discontinued victim registrations, enabled the registration of third party
offenders and expanded access to the registry to assess the suitability of unpaid
workers to work with children.
1218. In 1999, important amendments to The Child and Family Services Act came into effect
that were intended to strengthen the delivery of protection services by child and family
service agencies while, at the same time, making the system more responsive to parents’
and children’s rights. For example:
the legislation provided for a more expeditious hearing process once a child in need
of protection was taken into care;
the grounds for providing extended family members with access to children in care
were changed from establishing “extraordinary circumstances” to establishing that
access would be in the child’s best interests;
consent of a child in care who is 16 or over was required before medical and dental
treatment could be provided; and
the licensing of child care facilities came under the Act.
Independent Children’s Advocate
1219. As described in Canada’s Third Report under this Covenant, the Children’s Advocate,
established in 1993, originally reported to the Director of Child and Family Services.
After an all-party legislative committee review of the Office in 1997, which included
public hearings, The Child and Family Services Act was amended (in 1999) to make the
Children’s Advocate independent from the government. The Children’s Advocate is now
an independent officer of Manitoba’s Legislative Assembly who reports to the Assembly,
is appointed on recommendation of a standing committee of the Assembly and holds
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office for a fixed term of three years. The first independent Children’s Advocate was
appointed in March of 1999.
1220. The Children’s Advocate is active in protecting the rights of children and has identified
some areas for consideration by the government, including:
expanding the Children’s Advocate’s mandate, which is currently limited to the child
and family services system, to include children receiving economic security, housing,
justice, health and education services;
enhancing the Children’s Advocate’s powers to investigate, report and monitor
compliance with reports;
requiring that children be notified of their right to complain to the Children’s
the Children’s Advocate’s concerns respecting her limited presence in northern and
rural areas of Manitoba.
Aboriginal Justice Inquiry — Child Welfare Initiative
1221. In 1988, the Manitoba government established the Public Inquiry into the Administration
of Justice and Aboriginal People (the “Aboriginal Justice Inquiry”) to review all
components of the justice system in relation to Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Justice
Inquiry Report (, submitted to the Minister of Justice
in August of 1991, included an analysis and observations regarding the historical
treatment of Aboriginal people by the social services system, and in particular, the child
welfare system.
1222. In 1999, the Manitoba government announced its commitment to address the Aboriginal
Justice Inquiry’s recommendations and established the Aboriginal Justice Implementation
Commission to identify priorities and advise the government on methods of
implementing the recommendations. Approval was given to the recommendation of the
Department of Family Services and Housing, supported by the Department of Aboriginal
and Northern Affairs, to proceed with an implementation strategy and plan to address the
significant child welfare recommendations contained in the Report.
1223. The final report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry Commission was submitted on
June 29, 2001. Further details about the report, its implementation and the restructuring
of the child welfare system in Manitoba will be provided in Canada’s next report.
Child day care
1224. Between fiscal years 1994-1995 and 1996-1997, a number of changes to the child day
care program resulted in reduced assistance to families. These included:
reducing the number of allowable absent days for children whose families received
fee subsidies (1994-1995);
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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continuing to cap the number of subsidies (“subsidized cases”) allowed (1994-1995
to 1998-1999);
freezing the number of subsidized cases (1996-1997); and
removing over $4 million from the Child Day Care budget (1996-1997).
1225. A number of positive child day care initiatives were also introduced during this
timeframe, including:
establishing a “Regulatory Review Committee” to provide suggestions on ways to
simplify the regulations and provide more flexible support to parents (1996-1997);
designating a number of “subsidized cases” for use by parents on income assistance
who were working or attending approved training programs (1996-1997);
providing funding to establish flexible child care models to meet parents’ changing
work patterns (1996-1997);
providing more funding for children with disabilities and extending the funding to all
non-profit child care facilities, including family child care homes, so parents have
more options and choice (1997-1998);
eliminating the allotment of “subsidized cases” to individual facilities so parents
would have more choice in enrolling their children (1998-1999);
simplifying the subsidy application form (1998-1999); and
providing targeted funding for new rural child care spaces (1999-2000).
Family violence prevention
1226. Enhancements to family violence prevention services and measures to prevent and reduce
family crisis were instituted during the reporting period.
1227. In response to the Lavoie Inquiry into a tragic incidence of domestic violence, the
Manitoba government announced a funding commitment of $1.7 million in 1997 to assist
families caught in the cycle of violence. Since then, Family Services and Housing has
expanded several existing programs and has developed a number of new programs to
assist families.
1228. Some of the initiatives resulting from the Lavoie Inquiry included:
the establishment of three supervised child visitation/access services;
the introduction of couples’ counselling programs and men’s counselling programs;
the implementation of a large scale media campaign Promises aren’t the only things
that get broken.
1229. During the reporting period, the Manitoba government also:
declared November as “Domestic Violence Prevention Month”;
introduced domestic violence training for government employees;
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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provided additional funding to fill gaps in services for families affected by domestic
violence, particularly in Northern and rural Manitoba;
established a men’s resource centre in Winnipeg; and
established a women’s anger management group in Brandon for women with anger
management problems who have been in an abusive relationship.
1230. In September 1999, The Domestic Violence and Stalking Prevention, Protection and
Compensation Act (see came into
force. This Act provides persons subjected to stalking and domestic violence with the
ability to seek a wide range of civil court remedies to address their individual needs. In
the first year the Act was in force, over 1,100 orders of protection were granted.
Family conciliation services
1231. In 1995, Manitoba’s Family Conciliation service began offering “For the Sake of the
Children” — a supportive information program for separating and divorcing parents.
Parenting situation vignette and legal information videos were subsequently produced for
use in the Program and a regional delivery model was developed and implemented.
1232. In 1998-1999, a Comprehensive Co-mediation Pilot Project was developed to help
separating and divorcing parents resolve support and property issues, as well as their
parenting arrangements, through a free mediation service which operates through Family
Conciliation. Family Conciliation has long provided mediation of custody and access
issues, as well as Court-ordered assessment reports, at no cost to parents.
1233. The free public information booklet Family Law in Manitoba was updated regularly and
made available to thousands of Manitobans (see
Winnipeg Development Agreement
1234. During the reporting period, the Manitoba government, the Government of Canada and
the City of Winnipeg entered into the Winnipeg Development Agreement, under which
the three levels of government committed a total of $75 million over five years for the
delivery of social service related programming.
1235. The “Innovative and Preventive Child and Family Services” component of the
Agreement was given a budget of $4.5 million over a five-year period that expired in
March 2000. That component provided funding for community-based solutions targeted
to children and families living in poverty. Projects concentrated on innovative and early
intervention strategies that supported early childhood development, adolescent parents,
Aboriginal mothers and prenatal nutrition.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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Legal Aid
1236. Since 1994, the Government of Manitoba has increased funding to legal aid services in
general through the hiring of additional staff lawyers for Legal Aid Manitoba and an
enhanced fee structure for lawyers in the private bar who provide services to legal aid
1237. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 1994, expenditures for legal aid in Manitoba
amounted to $15,785,040.
1238. Legal Aid Manitoba continues to lead in the family law area by encouraging alternative
dispute resolution which does not involve the adversarial court process. Legal Aid
Manitoba has established a panel of lawyers — Legal Aid staff lawyers and private bar
lawyers — who are prepared to practise collaborative law in an attempt to bring family
clients and their lawyers together in face-to-face negotiations in order to put equitable
and durable settlements in place after a family break-up — without the need for
expensive court proceedings.
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
Social assistance
1239. Manitoba’s social assistance system, and its objectives — helping Manitobans enter or
re-enter the labour force and providing financial assistance for basic needs — are
discussed under Articles 6 and 9.
1240. In the 1998-1999 fiscal year, the average monthly number of households that were
assisted by the Manitoba government and Manitoba municipalities was 36,850, with an
associated expenditure of $315.7 million. This was a decrease of 6.1 percent from the
number of cases requiring assistance in the 1997-1998 fiscal year (39,235 compared to
36,850 cases) and a corresponding decrease in expenditures of 6.1 percent (from
$336.1 million to $315.7 million).
1241. Although in the mid-1990s the government’s financial resources made a reduction in
assistance rates necessary, significant efforts were made to help social assistance
participants attain economic security through employment. Enhancements to the social
assistance system were started in the late 1990s, and have continued. During the
reporting period, for example, a 14 percent increase in an additional monthly allowance
paid to persons with disabilities was granted and financial incentives for program
participants to seek employment were simplified and streamlined.
1242. During the reporting period, Manitoba’s two income supplement programs continued to
provide benefits to low-income residents. 55 Plus — a Manitoba income supplement —
provided quarterly income supplements to low-income Manitobans 55 years of age and
over. The Child Related Income Support Program provided monthly supplements to lowincome families with children.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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1243. Under the National Child Benefit, a joint initiative of Canada’s federal, provincial and
territorial governments, described in the Introduction to this report, the Government of
Canada increased the income support it provided to low-income families with children.
In turn, provinces, territories and First Nations adjusted the income support provided to
families receiving income assistance and reinvested the funds in new or enhanced
benefits and services for low-income families.
1244. One component of Manitoba’s National Child Benefit reinvestment strategy was the
Women and Infant Nutrition Program. Introduced in July 1998, the Program was
designed to help meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women and children under one
year of age in families receiving provincial income assistance. The Program provided
nutritional information and counselling to social assistance and low-income working
families. As an incentive towards participation and nutrition improvements, the Program
also offered a monthly supplement to expectant mothers and mothers of infants up to one
year of age if the families were in receipt of social assistance.
1245. During the reporting period, a number of changes occurred in the social service forum
which had significant implications for social housing in Manitoba. The most significant
was the Government of Canada’s announcement that federal funding for cost-shared
social housing programs would end, effective January 1994. As a result of the federal
government’s decision, Manitoba re-focussed its program objectives and activities to the
ongoing operating and maintenance of affordable and adequate accommodation for
households with low-to-moderate incomes.
1246. During the 1995-1996 fiscal year, Manitoba expended almost $6.5 million on
modernizing and improving its social housing portfolio of almost 17,000 units. This
commitment has continued over recent years, with an additional $8.2 million expended in
1996-1997, $6.7 million in 1997-1998, and $8.7 million in 1998-1999. Work undertaken
included improvements to energy efficiency, repairing deteriorating housing stock, and
modernizing heating, electrical and mechanical systems to generally improve the quality
of public housing.
1247. Manitoba signed a new Social Housing Agreement with the Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation (CMHC) in September of 1998. Under this Agreement, Manitoba
assumed the management of and responsibility for the entire social housing portfolio in
the Province. The Agreement essentially doubled the housing portfolio under Manitoba
Housing’s management and outlined the funding CMHC would provide to Manitoba to
support the administration and operation of the combined federal/provincial housing
1248. Under the terms of the Social Housing Agreement, Manitoba received funding at an
initial annual level of approximately $75 million, which would decline on an annual basis
as subsidy agreements expired. The challenge for Manitoba is to identify new options to
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
ensure the ongoing viability and integrity of its social housing stock so that affordable
and adequate housing continues to be available to low-income and moderate-income
1249. To assist families in undertaking needed renovations to older homes worth under
$100,000, Manitoba introduced the Manitoba Home Renovation Program in 1994. The
Program was intended to enhance the value of homes in Manitoba, to accelerate recovery
in the renovation sector and to create jobs. Over the two years the Program was in effect,
9,608 applications for assistance were approved, for a total Program expenditure of over
$9.5 million. More than one-half of the grants were paid to owners of homes valued at
$75,000 or less, and close to one-quarter of all grants approved went to owners of homes
valued at $50,000 or less.
Housing for low-income seniors
1250. In the 1997-1998 fiscal year, Manitoba introduced a number of measures to improve
access to adequate housing for low-income seniors.
1251. In response to the ageing tenant population in elderly housing projects throughout the
Province, Family Services and Housing undertook the Supportive Housing Pilot Project
to provide supportive services on a fee-for-service basis for low-to-moderate income
elderly tenants. An elderly housing project in Winnipeg was modified to provide two
floors of supportive housing and one floor of assisted living accommodation for elderly
tenants. The pilot project provided a successful housing option that enabled seniors to
maintain their independence by remaining in a residential setting rather than moving to a
personal care facility, and it formed the basis for additional supported housing projects
that are currently in the planning stages.
1252. Originally enacted in 1959, The Elderly and Infirm Persons’ Housing Act (see encouraged the development of
non-profit housing for low-income seniors at a time when there was a perceived housing
shortage for the elderly and no other government programs were available to encourage
development. The Act provided a framework within which a municipal non-profit
corporation could construct new, or renovate existing, housing to meet the needs of lowincome elderly or infirm residents. Projects licensed under the Act were exempted from
school taxes and were eligible for grant funding. As other housing programs and funding
options became available, the grant program under the Act was discontinued.
1253. As the number of housing options for seniors increased, some projects no longer reflected
the modest nature of seniors’ housing originally intended for exemption from school
taxes under The Elderly and Infirm Persons’ Housing Act. The Act and its regulations
were therefore amended, effective November 1997, to limit eligibility for licensing to
projects with unit sizes that met modesty criteria. In this way, projects meeting these
modesty criteria continue to qualify for school tax exemption, while more luxurious
projects were required to pay the school tax portion of property taxes. These changes
ensured the affordability of accommodation for low-to-moderate income seniors, while
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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requiring seniors who could afford higher-end accommodation to contribute their share
towards school taxes.
Spousal and child support
1254. During the reporting period, Manitoba continued to operate its government-run
Maintenance Enforcement Program. The Program enforces support obligations at no cost
to support recipients resident in Manitoba and, where the payor is in Manitoba, to support
recipients resident in those jurisdictions with which Manitoba has a reciprocal
enforcement arrangement.
1255. In 1995, comprehensive amendments to Manitoba’s maintenance enforcement legislation
were passed to allow the Maintenance Enforcement Program to take the following
additional steps to remedy support default and collect support payments:
suspend a defaulting payer’s driver’s licence or motor vehicle registration;
garnish jointly held funds;
garnish pension benefit credits.
1256. The amendments also increased the period of time garnishing orders remain in effect and
increased the fines and potential jail sentences for those found by the Court to be in wilful
default of support obligations.
1257. Manitoba actively participated in the national policy development work that led to the
implementation of child support guidelines under the federal Divorce Act in 1997.
Related child support guidelines amendments to The Family Maintenance Act (see and its regulations came into force
June 1, 1998.
Tax credits
1258. In 1996, The Income Tax Act of Manitoba (see was amended to give couples
“separated for medical reasons” the right to independently calculate refundable tax
credits, enhancing the right to an adequate standard of living.
Legal Aid
1259. In 1999, Legal Aid Manitoba instituted a specialized Poverty Law Office to deal with
legal issues that particularly affect poor people — such as welfare issues, pension
disability law, residential tenancy issues, worker compensation and debtor/creditor
matters. The new Office provides services to individuals and complements the Public
Interest Law Centre, which continues to concentrate on representing groups and
organizations in significant test cases.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
Regional Health Authorities
1260. On April 1, 1997, The Regional Health Authorities Act (see came into force and the transfer of
the responsibility for the administration and delivery of health services in Manitoba to
13 Regional Health Authorities began. Under the Act, the Province was divided into
12 health regions and 13 Authorities were established to assume responsibility in these
health regions, with two Authorities sharing responsibility in the City of Winnipeg. In
1999, the two Winnipeg Authorities were amalgamated into one.
1261. Regional Health Authorities are required to assess the health needs in their health regions
on an ongoing basis and prepare a regional health plan to meet the health needs. The
Authorities are also required to deliver core services including hospital services, personal
care services, home care, mental health services, prevention and community health
services and other services.
1262. The Department of Health provides the Regional Health Authorities with regional
population demographic information, as well as regional health utilization and health
status information, to assist them in needs assessment and planning.
Mental health reform
1263. From 1995 to 1999, mental health reform continued. Participation of the Regional Health
Authorities in this reform began in 1997. The redirection of resources away from a
primarily hospital-based system to community resources continued. This period also saw
an increased emphasis on consumers and family members participating in the planning of
mental health services and the development of policies.
1264. Major mental health initiatives during the reporting period included the following.
A new Mental Health Act (see
was passed (1999).
The Brandon Mental Health Centre was closed (1998).
New acute beds were opened or planned for in the health regions including:
in Brandon, 25 acute psychiatric beds opened (1998), 10 Child and Adolescent
beds opened (1998), a new Psychogeriatric Long Term Rehabilitation Unit
(10 beds) opened (1999); a Psychogeriatric Rehabilitation Assessment Unit
(12 beds) (1998);
in Dauphin, 10 beds opened (April 1998); and
planning continued for the opening of a 10 bed acute unit in Thompson and an 8
bed acute unit in The Pas.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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A new provincial 18 bed Forensic Unit opened at Selkirk Mental Health Centre in
Mobile crisis units were developed to provide community-based assessment and
intervention services to persons experiencing mental health crises. Units were
implemented in Selkirk (1995), Dauphin (1995), Brandon (1997), Steinbach (1997)
and Portage la Prairie (1998).
Crisis stabilization units were developed to provide short-term, community-based
treatment for persons experiencing mental health crises. Units were implemented in
Selkirk in 1995 and in Brandon in 1997.
A Safe House opened in Winnipeg in 1996 — operated by a non-profit organization
directed by consumers.
In 1999, the community based Clubhouse for mental health consumers opened in
Grant funding for mental health self-help was provided to the Canadian Mental
Health Association, the Society for Depression and Manic Depression, the Manitoba
Schizophrenia Society and the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba to provide
peer support and public education. In 1997, funding was provided for self-help in the
North and South Eastman health regions, thereby establishing self-help resources in
every health region in the Province.
Funding was provided to the Partnership for Consumer Empowerment to provide
education and information to consumers and service providers on empowerment and
In 1998, the Selkirk Mental Health Centre re-organized its three specialized treatment
programs to: Short Term Treatment and Rehabilitation, Extended Treatment and
Rehabilitation and Community Preparation and Forensic Rehabilitation. Treatment
services in all programs are now provided by multi-disciplinary treatment teams of
psychiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists, social workers, occupational
therapists, psychiatric nurses and recreational therapists.
Psychologists were hired in the Norman, Thompson and Interlake/North and South
Eastman health regions through the Rural Northern Psychology Training Program
under the management of the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of
Original research on the needs of women with mental illness in Manitoba was
undertaken and distributed throughout the Province.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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In 1997, training of new staff associated with mental health reform initiatives was
completed throughout the Province, such as training for trainers in psychosocial
rehabilitation, support workers and supported employment workers.
Beginning in 1999, the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre implemented the
Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Workers Training Program for
workers across Manitoba.
From 1995 through 1997, community-based multidisciplinary psycho-geriatric teams
were funded and established for Winnipeg, Brandon, Parkland and in other areas of
the Province. In Winnipeg, the team provided case management services to elderly
persons with mental disorders, as well as their families. Services were targeted to
elderly persons with significant mental illness, living in community settings with
emphasis on those requiring assistance with case coordination.
There was continued consultation with the Regional Health Authorities regarding
psycho-geriatric service planning and coordination, including assistance with
Funding was provided for the education of psycho-geriatric team members.
The Department of Health supported the ongoing development of the Provincial
Psycho-geriatric Network.
1265. In 1997-1998, Manitoba established the Youth Emergency Crisis Stabilization System
with funds redirected from the closure of Seven Oaks Centre (a reception facility used for
high-risk children). The Youth Emergency Crisis Stabilization System was designed to
provide a variety of mental health services, seven days a week, on a 24-hour basis, for
adolescents in crisis and their families.
Health promotion and health care services
1266. In 1998, the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre was established as a three-year
project in the City of Winnipeg to provide primary health services, education, outreach
and community development.
1267. In 1998, the BabyFirst Program was implemented. The Program is designed to provide
services to families living in conditions of risk who are at the prenatal stage or who have
children up to three years of age. The mission of the Program is to reduce abuse and
neglect of children. It emphasizes positive parenting, enhanced parent-child interaction,
improved child health and development, and optimal use of community resources. The
Program is primarily delivered by public health nursing staff of the Regional Health
1268. In September of 1999, Manitoba’s newly elected government identified investing in
Manitoba's youngest citizens as one of its top priorities. In early 2000, the Premier
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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created the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet to develop and lead child-centred public
policy across government, towards the best possible outcomes for all of Manitoba’s
children and youth.
1269. During the reporting period, free vaccine programs were expanded to include a second
dose of measles vaccine for children, hepatitis B vaccine for children and pneumococcal
vaccine for adults.
1270. Work on the development of a new Public Health Act continued.
1271. Between 1995 and 1997, the Manitoba Breast Screening Program was launched in the
Province. It includes a physical breast examination and mammography every two years
for all eligible Manitoba women aged 50 to 69 years of age. Sites were opened in
Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson, and mobile clinics were established throughout the
rural and northern areas of the Province.
1272. Between 1996 and 1999, Community Nurse Resource Centres were established
throughout the Province. The Centres provide nurse-managed primary health services,
focussing on health promotion, education, disease prevention and clinical care. The first
Centre was established in Winnipeg in 1996, followed by Thompson (1997) and Flin
Flon, The Pas, Ethelbert and Pine River (1999).
1273. By 1999, three Primary Health Centres had been established in Sprague, St. Boniface and
Oakbank. These Centres have a multi-disciplinary health service focus whereby citizens
can obtain medical and nursing services, along with diabetes education, mental health
counseling and health education.
1274. C.T. Scanner services became available in rural Manitoba for the first time in 1999, as a
new scanner became fully operational at the Dauphin Regional Health Centre. Plans are
underway to expand this service to other rural and northern communities in the Province.
1275. By 1999, nine Dialysis Outreach Centres were available outside the City of Winnipeg, in
rural and northern Manitoba at Morden/Winkler, Brandon, Dauphin, The Pas, Flin Flon,
Thompson, Portage la Prairie, Ashern and Pine Falls.
1276. Supportive Housing was established in the City of Winnipeg in 1996 and has been
developing rapidly throughout Winnipeg and into rural Manitoba. Supportive Housing
complements the existing Personal Care Home Program. Supportive Housing is defined
as housing with care alternatives that provides personal support services and essential
homemaking in permanent, grouped, community residential settings, for frail and/or
cognitively impaired elderly persons; person with physical disabilities or other chronic
conditions requiring extensive long term care and 24 hour on-site assistance.
1277. In 1997, The Personal Health Information Act came into force (see This Act provides individuals
with the right of access to their own personal health information and protects the
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confidentiality and privacy of personal health information maintained by “trustees,” such
as Manitoba government departments, regional health authorities, hospitals, physicians
and other health care professionals.
1278. As a signatory in 1999 to the Social Union Framework, described in the Introduction to
this report, Manitoba must ensure that no new barriers to mobility of health care are
created, must eliminate any residency based policies or practices which constrain access
to health care services and must submit annual reports on the implementation of the
Framework. Upon review, the Department of Health found no residency-based policies
or practices that constrain access to provincially-delivered health care programs and
services in Manitoba.
Children with disabilities
1279. The period 1994 to 1999, saw many enhancements to Manitoba’s services for children
with disabilities. In 1995, a partnership involving the Departments of Family Services
and Housing, Education and Youth, and Health was established to develop a Unified
Referral and Intake System to support children who needed assistance performing special
health care procedures when they were apart from their families and caregivers. This
initiative has played an important role in enabling children with special health care needs
to continue to live safely at home and to participate safely in school and in community
1280. In 1998, Manitoba initiated the Provincial Outreach Therapy for Children project, which
was designed to provide outreach therapy services to children with lifelong disabilities.
The Initiative was delivered as a joint venture by the Society for Manitobans with
Disabilities and the Rehabilitation Centre for Children. A consultative and collaborative
approach to service provision was adopted whereby therapy could be provided at a
child’s home or school or in a childcare setting. The Initiative continues today, and
services available through it include occupational therapy, physiotherapy and
speech/language therapy for pre-school children in Winnipeg and in rural and northern
Manitoba, as well as occupational therapy and physiotherapy services for some schoolage children in rural and northern Manitoba.
1281. In 1999, an Interdepartmental Pediatric Therapy Group consisting of service providers,
professionals, department representatives, parents and public stakeholders, was
established to provide the Manitoba government with recommendations to improve the
coordination of, access to and equity of therapy services for children throughout
Manitoba. Details about the Group’s recommendations, and implementation by
Manitoba, will be provided in Canada’s next report.
1282. In 1999, Manitoba, through its Children and Youth Secretariat, funded an Applied
Behaviour Analysis pilot program which was delivered by St. Amant Centre. The
Program is a widely recognized, research-based intensive behaviour intervention Program
which, when implemented in the pre-school years, has been shown to be of significant
benefit for many children with autism.
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Healthy communities
1283. The Manitoba government, through the Recreation and Regional Services Branch,
Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, supports the development of healthy
people and healthy communities by:
recreation, physical activity and wellness promotion;
providing consultation and access to resources that support rural and northern
communities in stimulating positive change and encouraging sustainable growth and
improved quality of life; and
providing access to programs, grants and resources in recognition of the unique and
specific needs of rural and northern communities in partnership with other
government branches, departments and agencies.
1284. The Recreational Opportunities Program provides financial assistance to 44 Recreation
Commissions, comprised of 124 municipal governments and 31 school divisions/districts,
to enable them to engage the services of recreation professionals and to develop a wide
variety of recreation programs and services for residents of their communities.
1285. The Branch works with key partners such as the Manitoba Aboriginal Sport and
Recreation Council, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, Northern Manitoba Recreation
Association, Sport Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg, to address barriers to
opportunities for Aboriginal people to participate in sport and recreation.
Article 13: Right to Education
Primary and secondary education
1286. School enrolment in Manitoba increased from 224,069 students in the 1995-1996 school
year to 231,662 in 1999-2000. The number of high school graduates increased from
10,771 in 1995-1996 to 11,174 in 1999-2000.
1287. A variety of languages are used in Manitoba schools. As of September 1999:
5,382 students were enrolled in “French as a first language” programs;
17,373 students were taking French immersion programs;
72,152 students were taking Basic French courses;
1,637 students were taking bilingual programs in German, Hebrew and Ukrainian;
3,861 students were enrolled in heritage language courses (e.g. Hebrew, German,
Ukrainian, Ojibway).
1288. The Department of Education and Youth supplies a consultant for English as a Second
Language programs and for heritage languages.
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1289. The Department of Education and Youth facilitates the development and implementation
of curricula in Manitoba schools by providing learning resources, library services and
access to global information. Multicultural library services and resources in the areas of
Diversity and Equity Education, Spanish Language education, human rights education,
English as a Second Language and Black History are also provided.
1290. In 1995, a commitment was made that curricular documents would address Aboriginal
perspectives, gender fairness, appropriate age portrayals, human diversity and would use
an anti-racist and anti-bias approach.
1291. In 1996, The Public Schools Act (see
ccsm/p250e.php) was amended to address schools of choice, parental involvement and
the rights and responsibilities of students.
“Schools of choice” allows parents and students to choose, generally without cost, a
school other than the school designated by their school board.
The amendments confirmed the Manitoba government’s commitment to greater
parental involvement in education by creating avenues for parental involvement in
schools (such as parent councils).
The amendments also outlined the fundamental rights and responsibilities of students.
Students have the right to access their pupil files, to have their performance
evaluated, and to be present (with representation) at an expulsion hearing. Students
must comply with the school code of conduct, complete assignments and respect
Special needs and special education
1292. Government support for Special Education increased from $80.8 million in the 19951996 school year to $91.6 million in 1999-2000. These amounts represent Student at
Risk and Special Needs Level I, II, and III funding. Special Needs Level III funding, for
students with profound needs, increased from $9.8 million to $15.9 million in this time
1293. The Department of Education and Youth also funds the Manitoba School for the Deaf
and other support programs for students with disabilities.
1294. In 1995, to ensure high quality education and training programs to enable Manitoba
students to develop their individual potential and contribute to the economic, social and
cultural life in Manitoba, several support documents were produced such as:
Towards Inclusion: A Handbook for Modified Course Designation, Senior 1-4 was
produced to support implementing inclusive educational opportunities for Senior
Years students with significant cognitive disabilities through curriculum
Towards Inclusion: A Handbook for Individualized Programming Designation,
Senior Years was developed to provide information about implementing inclusive
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educational opportunities for Senior Years students who require individualized
programming within age-appropriate school and community environments.
1295. As discussed under Article 12, in March of 1995, the Departments of Family Services,
Health and Education and Youth implemented the Unified Referral and Intake System to
assist children requiring specific health care procedures to live safely at home and to
participate to the fullest extent possible in community life, including school life.
1296. To facilitate the transition of children with special needs into school, several transition
protocols were developed. Guidelines for Early Childhood Transition to School and
Guidelines for Registration of Students in Care of Child Welfare Agencies were released
in 1997.
1297. In 1998, the support document Individual Educational Programming was released to
support a planning process whereby student needs are addressed in a systematic way.
1298. In 1998, the Early Literacy Intervention Initiative Grant began with an allocation of
$2.7 million. The grant supports school divisions/districts in their efforts to provide early
literacy intervention programs that will prevent literacy difficulties at an early stage
before they begin to affect a child's educational progress.
1299. In December 1998, the Manitoba Special Education Review Report was released. The
purpose of the Review was to make recommendations that would form the basis for
improving the effectiveness and efficiency of education and school based services for
children who require special education in order to strengthen learning opportunities and
outcomes. The Special Education Review Initiative was initiated in 1999 to develop
strategies to implement recommendations outlined in the Report.
1300. One outcome of the Special Education Review Initiative was the Early Behaviour
Intervention: Learning and Behaving Initiative, announced in April 1999. This Initiative
provides a formula grant to assist school divisions/districts to develop and implement
effective and research based programming that provides for a continuum of services and
supports for students experiencing learning difficulties due to behavioural problems.
1301. To facilitate the transition of children with special needs into the community, the support
document Manitoba Transition Planning Process Support Guidelines for Students with
Special Needs Reaching Age 16 was released in February 1999.
Aboriginal education and training
1302. The Aboriginal Education Directorate of the Department of Education and Youth is
responsible for the inclusion of Aboriginal education and training in all departmental
1303. Proportionally, Manitoba has the highest percentage of Aboriginal people among the ten
provinces. Aboriginal people comprise 11.7 percent of Manitoba’s population. Overall,
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38.2 percent of Aboriginal adults aged 15 and over completed Grade 12 at the time of the
1996 census. This is up from 33.3 percent in the 1991 census.
1304. In 1997, the Aboriginal Education and Training Strategy was established with the goals
of increasing the high school graduation rate among Aboriginal students, increasing the
labour market participation of Aboriginal people, and strengthening partnerships with the
Aboriginal community.
Francophone school division
1305. In 1993, The Public Schools Act of Manitoba was amended to create a school division
governed by the francophone minority in Manitoba. The amendments provided the
legislative framework for the establishment of a province-wide French language school
division with responsibility for educational matters for children of Francophone parents.
1306. The Division, known as the Division scolaire franco-manitobaine, officially began
operating at the start of the 1994-1995 school year. In September 1999, the Division
provided French-language educational programs to over 4,300 students in 21 schools
throughout Manitoba.
Post-secondary education and adult education
1307. College enrolments increased from 9,881 in 1995-1996 to 13,223 in 1999-2000.
University enrolments declined from 42,292 in 1995-1996 to 38,890 in 1999-2000.
1308. All Manitoba public post-secondary institutions allow mature student entry, irrespective
of formal secondary education, although persons who have not completed formal
secondary school may be accepted subject to completing preparatory courses.
1309. As reported in Canada’s Third Report, Manitoba’s public post-secondary institutions
continue to be publicly subsidized and Manitoba continues to extend opportunities for
post-secondary education and training to persons from groups that have historically been
under represented in post-secondary institutions (including persons of Aboriginal descent,
recent immigrants and single parents).
1310. Manitoba Student Aid offers federal and provincial assistance to post-secondary students
who are either Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents. Program improvements
during the reporting period included:
a tuition freeze at Manitoba’s public post-secondary institutions to 1999 levels;
a continued 10 percent tuition rebate to students attending Manitoba’s post-secondary
institutions; and
enhancements to the Student Aid financial needs assessment process, which allowed
students to retain more scholarship and earnings income without their student aid
awards being impacted.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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1311. Enrolment in community based Adult Literacy programs increased from 1,700 students in
1995-1996 to 2,513 in 1999-2000.
Education initiatives of particular significance to women
1312. Historically, women have not been encouraged to develop their potential in math, science
and technology related occupations. Despite the dramatic influx of women into the
labour market and post-secondary training, they continue to be under-represented in high
technology, community college training.
1313. In January 1995, the Manitoba Women’s Directorate established the Training for
Tomorrow Scholarship Awards Program. The Program provides fifty
$1,000 scholarships each year for women for studies in math, science or technology
programs at the Province’s community colleges, to encourage women to consider the
value of training in these areas, where high demand assures them of highly paid
employment at the end of their training.
Learning tax credit
1314. The Manitoba Government introduced a Learning Tax Credit in the 1996 Budget. The
10 percent refundable tax credit reduced the income tax of eligible students or their
supporting parents or spouses. By increasing disposable income, the tax credit made
post-secondary education more affordable. As a result of increases to other tuition and
education supports, the Learning Tax Credit rate was reduced from 10 percent to
7 percent in 1998.
Article 15: Right to Take Part in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
1315. The Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism, through its Programs Division, the
Manitoba Arts Council and the Manitoba Film and Sound Recording Development
Corporation, continues to support and deliver a variety of programs which endeavour to:
provide all Manitobans with access to the cultural life of the Province;
contribute to the enhancement of training and employment opportunities for cultural
workers in all disciplines;
support the development of Manitoba’s book publishing, film, television, sound
recording, new/interactive media, visual arts and crafts industries;
ensure province-wide access to public library services; and
identify, preserve and protect Manitoba’s heritage assets, including First Nations
archaeological and burial sites.
1316. The Arts Branch administers programs which foster and promote access to arts activities
at the community, regional and provincial levels, including rural and remote communities
of the Province and those which reflect ethno-cultural heritage. The Branch has
historically employed a Francophone Community Consultant and has recently added an
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Aboriginal Consultant to its staff with responsibility for ensuring access to existing
programs and the development of new programs to serve the unique needs of Manitoba’s
First Nations communities.
1317. The Branch’s programs in support of Manitoba book publishers provide financial
assistance for purposes of marketing, business development, professional skills upgrading
and integration of new publishing technologies. Program eligibility criteria ensure the
protection of authors’ interests by requiring applicants to report royalties accrued and to
sign a declaration attesting to payment. As well, the Branch co-administers three
provincially sponsored literary awards which offer financial considerations to Englishlanguage and Francophone authors.
1318. The Branch manages the Provincial Art Collection and administers an Arts Purchase
Program which annually expands the Collection through the purchase of works by
Manitoba artists. As well, the Branch administers business development and marketing
programs in support of Manitoba visual artists, craftspeople and galleries exhibiting and
promoting Manitoba artists.
1319. The Manitoba government has identified development of a cultural labour force as a
priority. In partnership with the arts and cultural community, the Branch has played a
leading role in establishing the Arts and Cultural Industries Development Team, with a
mandate to provide a blueprint for the development of a cultural work force that will
place Manitoba at the leading edge as a producer of cultural product. The blueprint is
intended to tap creative and technical potential across all cultural sub-sectors and to
capitalize on, and integrate, Manitoba’s diverse human cultural assets.
1320. The work of the Manitoba Arts Council, as described in Canada’s Third Report,
1321. The Manitoba Film and Sound Recording Development Corporation, established by
legislation in 1998, has a mandate to develop, promote and foster the development of
indigenous film/video and sound recording industries in Manitoba (The Manitoba Film
and Sound Recording Development Corporation Act is available online at It provides grants and investments
in support of the production and marketing of demo recordings, albums and CDs, and
touring of musicians/recording artists; the development, production, promotion and
marketing of indigenous and Canadian stories filmed in Manitoba, as well as support of
emerging filmmakers, including, in particular, development of a strong Francophone and
Aboriginal presence.
1322. The Public Library Services Branch works to bring libraries and related services to rural
and remote areas of Manitoba through two major programs — the Open Shelf Program,
where patrons choose books from the Branch’s central collection, either by catalogue,
mail, or on-line and receiving the books by mail and the Travelling Library Program,
which provides a block of up to 500 books to a community for a period of about six
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1323. The Recreation and Regional Services Branch provides a decentralized delivery system
to rural and northern communities for the Department’s funding programs and resources.
Staff provide technical and consultative services from seven regional offices and
numerous satellite offices. Regional offices provide community-based access to
programs, grants and resources recognizing the unique and specific needs of
communities. Municipalities, First Nations, school boards, agencies and organizations
with the mandate to promote arts and culture, heritage, recreation, fitness, sport, libraries,
tourism and community service can access this delivery service.
1324. Historic Resources Branch identifies, preserves and protects Manitoba’s heritage assets,
including First Nation’s archaeological and burial sites in northern Manitoba. Of
particular significance in the latter respect, is the Branch’s 1990 agreement with
Manitoba Hydro to identify, study and, where possible, preserve and protect
archaeological and burial sites in northern Manitoba. The Manitoba Museum, the
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, the South Indian Lake community, the University of
Winnipeg’s physical anthropology staff and the Department of Aboriginal and Northern
Affairs have also been working with the Branch and Manitoba Hydro. In accordance
with provincial policies, Branch staff are successfully recovering eroded and endangered
burials, which, following analyses, are returned to the communities for reburial. The
progress made, information and insights gained and benefits derived by Aboriginal
communities are extensive and beyond measure. The understanding of the Aboriginal
people who have lived in northern Manitoba also helps all Manitobans to gain a stronger
sense of pride in our rich heritage.
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Aboriginal people
1325. Ontario’s Aboriginal Policy Framework (APF) was adopted in March 1996. The APF
guides the Government’s approach to Aboriginal affairs and was established to ensure
that provincial policies, programs and services directed to Aboriginal people help create
opportunities for employment and economic development, which will strengthen the selfreliance of Aboriginal communities.
1326. The APF is structured to:
enable the government to address Aboriginal issues in a consistent, less costly and
more effective manner;
increase public involvement in Aboriginal matters that affect Ontarians; and
minimize actions that could destabilize relations between Aboriginal and nonAboriginal communities.
Additional information on the APF is available online, at
1327. Consistent with the principles stated in its APF, Ontario has participated in selfgovernment negotiations led by the Government of Canada. Ontario continues to assess
and protect provincial interests in this process and continues to respect existing
Aboriginal and treaty rights.
1328. In 1998, the Ontario government launched a new strategy, Building Aboriginal
Economies, fulfilling a commitment made in the government’s 1996 APF to develop an
Aboriginal economic strategy. The strategy focuses on the creation of jobs and economic
opportunities for Aboriginal people in order to build Aboriginal self-reliance over the
long term. The strategy, a coordinated framework of more than 30 programs and services
across 11 ministries, has four strategic directions: to remove barriers to economic
development, to increase Aboriginal access to government programs and services, to
increase partnerships between the Aboriginal community and the corporate sector, and to
create opportunities.
1329. In addition, a new program under the strategy, entitled Working Partnerships, was
initiated. Working Partnerships focuses on corporate Aboriginal partnership
development and networking. Other programs, such as the Ontario Aboriginal Economic
Development Program and the Ontario Aboriginal Capital Grants Program, provide
financial and capital support for Aboriginal economic development.
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1330. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT) created the post of
Aboriginal Affairs Co-ordinator to ensure access by Aboriginal people to MEDT’s
programs and services relating to entrepreneurship development, business expansion and
export readiness.
Transportation services
1331. The Community Transportation Action Program (CTAP), a joint initiative of the
ministries of Transportation; Education and Training; Health; Community and Social
Services; and Citizenship, Culture and Recreation was established in August 1996 with
an original sunset date of September 1998. Its mandate was to remove legislative,
regulatory, policy and administrative barriers that impede co-ordination of transportation
services, and to provide support for communities to implement restructuring plans for
existing transportation services. CTAP provided over $2 million in funding support for
59 community projects from 1996 to 1999. The Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and
Recreation provided funding to encourage communities to provide community
transportation initiatives and to increase access for people with disabilities.
International initiatives
1332. Beginning in 1996, the Ontario Human Rights Commission initiated a review of existing
and new policy work to ensure that the Commission’s work is informed by international
standards. For example, the Commission’s Policy on Female Genital Mutilation was
introduced to respond to provisions under the Convention on the Rights of the Child that
prohibit traditional practices that are harmful to children. Provisions in the Convention
on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women set out equality rights of pregnant
and lactating women and these rights are now being used in the Commission’s Policy on
Discrimination Because of Pregnancy.
1333. As part of its responsibility to promote human rights, the Ontario Human Rights
Commission meets with delegates and visitors from around the world to discuss human
rights issues. Many of these visits relate to the establishment or strengthening of human
rights commissions, information-sharing and technical co-operation. During the
reporting period 1994-1999, visiting delegates to the Commission included
representatives from India, the Philippines, Norway, Vietnam, China, Sri Lanka, Japan,
New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Greece, Burma and South Africa.
1334. In 1995, the Ontario Human Rights Commission was invited to participate as a member
of a Canadian delegation to a conference on human rights education held in New Delhi,
India. The Commission presented three papers on human rights education, policy
function and investigative work. Subsequently, an exchange of staff was undertaken to
further promote cooperation between the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the
National Human Rights Commission of India.
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Article 2: Rights Specifically Subject to Non-discrimination Provisions
1335. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is the statutory agency
responsible for administering the Human Rights Code (the Code). The Code prohibits
discrimination in the areas of services, goods and facilities, contracts, housing,
employment and vocational associations. The Code protects individuals on several
prohibited grounds of discrimination including race, ancestry, place of origin, colour,
ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital
status, family status, handicap, receipt of public assistance and most recently, same-sex
partnership status.
1336. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Public Health Division’s Mandatory Health
Programs and Services Guidelines (December 1997) include a General Standard for
Equal Access. The information is available on the Ministry’s Web site. The goal of this
standard is to ensure that all Ontarians have access to public health programs.
Specifically, Requirement One necessitates, whenever practical and appropriate, that
mandatory public health programs and services be accessible to people in special groups
for whom barriers exist. Barriers may include, but are not limited to, literacy level,
language, culture, geography, social factors, education, economic circumstances, and
mental and physical ability. Requirement Two requires that, when planning to use
facilities and sites for mandatory public health programs, the board of health shall select
those which are barrier-free and have suitable access for special groups. Requirement
Three obliges a board of health to establish ongoing community processes to identify
needs, recommend approaches and monitor progress toward achieving access to the
mandatory public health programs and services.
Same-sex partnership status
1337. In 1999, following a Supreme Court of Canada decision, the Ontario Government
introduced legislation, which was subsequently passed into law, to provide protection to
persons on the ground of same-sex partnership status. Bill 5, entitled Amendments
Because of the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in M. v. H. Act, amended 67 Ontario
statutes, including the Human Rights Code. Subsequently, the Commission released a
public policy statement to inform the public of the equality of persons in Ontario
regardless of sexual orientation and their same-sex partnership status.
Gender identity
1338. In 1999, the Commission released a discussion paper to ensure that the public is aware
that transgendered persons are protected under human rights legislation on the ground of
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Public transit
1339. In 1999, the Commission initiated a review of the accessibility of Ontario’s mass transit
systems for persons with disabilities. In light of a 1997 Supreme Court of Canada
decision, the Commission promotes an integrated approach to public transit as a basic
social good or requirement. This means that public transit authorities should make
conventional transit systems as accessible and barrier free as possible and where users are
still unable to access these facilities, to provide other parallel transit options. In both
cases, the standard is accommodation to the point of undue hardship.
Complaints process
1340. The Commission has made significant strides during the reporting period in shortening
delays and in introducing alternative dispute resolution techniques. A new mediation
system resolved 74 percent of cases successfully. Cases over three years of age
constituted only 3 percent of the total caseload (as compared to 7 percent in 1994). The
average case age in 1999 was about 14 months.
Public education
1341. The Commission has developed a strong promotional program for improving awareness
of human rights and strengthening respect for human rights through recent publications
(listed below). These were published by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and are
available in alternative formats on the Commission’s Web site and in legal publications
Guidelines on Special Programs (1997)
Policy on Creed and the Accommodation of Religious Observances (1996)
Policy on Discrimination and Harassment Because of Sexual Orientation (2000)
Policy on Discrimination and Language (1996)
Policy on Discrimination Because of Pregnancy (1999)
Policy on Drug and Alcohol Testing (1996)
Policy on Employment-related Medical Information (1996)
Policy on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) (1996)
Policy on Gender Identity (2000)
Policy on Height and Weight Requirements (1996)
Policy on HIV/AIDS-Related Discrimination (1996)
Policy on Racial Slurs and Harassment and Racial Jokes (1996)
Policy on Requiring a Driver's Licence as a Condition of Employment (1996)
Policy on Scholarships and Awards (1997)
Policy on Sexual Harassment and Inappropriate Gender Related Comments &
Conduct (1996)
1342. In addition, several plain language documents have been developed for anyone seeking
general knowledge about basic concepts in the Code, or seeking guidance about how to
apply human rights law in the workplace or elsewhere. As part of its public education
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mandate, the Commission provides information and assistance to over 1,000 employers,
individuals, schools and other organizations every year. The advice includes areas such
as: developing in-house anti-discrimination policies and practices; reviewing of job
application forms and advertisements: and, developing special programs to enhance
equality of opportunity for individuals and groups. These services are provided on
request and are free of charge. Between 1997 and 1999, the Commission conducted two
public awareness campaigns on sexual harassment on public transit facilities, in public
outlets and Ontario businesses.
Article 6: Right to Work
1343. From September 1995 through to the end of 1999, 643,000 new jobs were created in
Ontario; 198,000 of these jobs were created in 1999, and almost all of the gains were in
full-time jobs. Employment increases have been broad-based, as jobs have been created
in most sectors of the economy.
1344. Employment levels have risen from 90 percent in 1994 to 94 percent in 1999. Ontario’s
overall level of unemployment was 9.6 percent in 1994, dropping to 7.2 percent in 1998
and even further to 6.3 percent in 1999.
1345. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT) sponsored projects which
encouraged best practices and increases in productivity. MEDT facilitates networking
between CEOs of small, fast-growing firms to exchange experiences and ideas through
the Wisdom Exchange and the Innovators Alliance. Through the Strategic Skills
Investment, MEDT supported projects designed to accelerate the introduction of forwardlooking skills development projects through collaborations between business and training
1346. The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines continued to implement measures to
promote economic development in Northern Ontario, enhance mineral sector
competitiveness and ensure sustainable development of Ontario’s mineral resources.
1347. Through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, over $230 million has been
invested since 1996 in 670 projects which enhance the infrastructure, tourism and other
key strategic business and community partnerships, helping to address regional
disparities and to create jobs in Northern Ontario.
1348. In 1999, 60.4 percent of women participated in Ontario’s labour force, compared with
61.4 percent in 1990 and 58.1 percent in 1985.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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1349. In 1998, women in Ontario made up 46.3 percent (2.8 million) of the labour force
compared to 1988 when women accounted for 44.7 percent (2.4 million). Women
accounted for 60.6 percent of Ontario’s labour force growth between 1987 and 1999.
1350. In 1999, the unemployment rate for women was 6.4 percent; in 1993: 10.1 percent; in
1990: 6.1 percent; and in 1984, it was 9.2 percent.
Details of employment
1351. In 1995, Ontario women working full-year/full-time earned an average of 73.6 percent of
men’s average salary, up from 66.2 percent in 1990. In 1998, women working full-time
earned an average of 72.3 percent of men’s average salary. In 1995, approximately one
quarter (27.8 percent) of Ontario women worked part-time.
1352. In 1998, 86 percent of women were employed in the service sector. Women dominated
employment in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry (81 percent) and the
Education services industry (64 percent). Women were strongly represented in the
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Leasing and in Accommodation and Food Services
(57 percent each). Overall, 22 percent of women were employed in the broader public
sector, compared to 12 percent of men.
1353. In 1999, 85 percent of Ontario women were employed in the service-producing sector, of
which 16 percent were employed in the trade sector. Within the trade sector, half of the
workers were women. In 1999, 14.7 percent of women workers were employed in
clerical occupations, with 35.3 percent of those employed in managerial occupations and
47.8 percent in professional occupations. Approximately 68.1 percent of the employees
in clerical occupations were women.
1354. Among women, women of colour, Aboriginal women and women with disabilities are the
most disadvantaged in terms of employment opportunities and income.
Young persons
1355. Information on Ontario youth (15-24 years of age) employment is presented below for
1984, 1989 and 1999. Total population in that age group and the information on its
labour force participation is given by gender for each of the selected years (Table 1).
1356. The rate of participation in the labour force of young men was consistently higher than
the participation of young women. In 1999, for example, 65.8 percent of young men
participated in the labour force compared with 64.2 percent of young women.
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Table 1: Estimates of Labour Force participation of Population 15-24 Years of Age, Ontario, 1984, 1989,
Older Workers Labour Force
45-64 yrs
1990 1,371,500
Source: Statistics Canada, The Labour Force Survey.
1357. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs continued to administer the Rural
Youth Job Strategy, a four-year $35 million program, that was designed to enhance the
employable skills of rural youth and to develop opportunities for business in rural
Ontario. Over $17.5 million was spent on 60 projects that supported the creation of
10,400 jobs for youth in rural Ontario.
1358. In 1998-1999, 809 publicly funded secondary schools provided a wide variety of
programs to 697,836 students.
1359. School boards must provide co-operative education programs and work experience to
help students to acquire knowledge and skills, and to apply this learning in practical
situations. Courses of all types and in all disciplines may be offered through the
cooperative education mode. Co-operative education provides credits for work
experience with business and industry partners. In 1998-1999, 657 schools enrolled
57,962 students in co-operative programs.
Canada’s Fourth Report on the United Nations’
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1360. In 1998-1999, 682 secondary schools offered technological education programs, and
265,686 students were enrolled in technology courses in broad-based areas —
construction, communication, design, hospitality services, manufacturing, personal
services, and transportation. In the same year, 412 schools enrolled 5,570 students in
technology-related co-operative programs.
1361. Ontario supported distance-education programs for adult learners in areas not directly
served by Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. For example, the Contact North
Network served over 130 northern Ontario communities. The courses combined selfstudy with audio or video-conferencing among students and teachers. Grants were
provided to colleges and universities to encourage them to develop self-study distanceeducation instructional materials.
1362. In 1995, the government conducted a review of all programs of the Ontario Training and
Adjustment Board (OTAB) to ensure consistency with the government’s directions. As a
result, the OTAB structure was dissolved in 1996 and programs and services were
transferred to the Ministry of Education and Training.
1363. In 1999, responsibility for the administration and delivery of labour market adjustment
programs was transferred to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).
MTCU supports the delivery of programs and services that:
prepare unemployed individuals, particularly youth, to enter or re-enter the
help students find summer employment;
provide literacy and basic skills upgrading to assist entry and re-entry into the
provide apprenticeship training and services to support skills training;
provide assistance to workers facing business closures or other significant workforce
help newcomers adapt to Ontario’s labour market;
provide policy, planning, research and evaluation support on labour market and
training matters.
Access to training and employment
1364. The Access to Professions and Trades Strategy includes the following initiatives:
providing prospective and landed immigrants comprehensive, up-to-date information
on “entry-to-practice” requirements and labour market conditions for regulated
an academic credential assessment service;
working with professional bodies to develop prior learning assessment tools to
recognize the skills and experience of foreign-trained professionals.
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1365. Equity considerations have influenced programs delivered by Ontario colleges.
However, data on participation by race, colour, sex, religion and national origin is not
currently available.
Distinctions not considered discriminatory
1366. Under the Constitution Act, 1867, Roman Catholics in Ontario are guaranteed
continuation of the education rights they had by law at the time of Confederation. At the
time of the extension of public funding to all grades of the Roman Catholic school
system, Roman Catholic school boards were required to consider all applicants for
employment and promotion in its secondary schools. The constitutionality of this
requirement was considered by the courts, which held that this requirement was
unconstitutional, and therefore of no force and effect.
Ontario Human Rights Commission
1367. Between April 1994 and March 1999, 73 percent of all complaints to the Commission
were in the area of employment. As a result, the Commission prepared a new publication
for employers entitled Human Rights at Work (1999) which was distributed throughout
the province.
Equality of opportunity and treatment in employment
1368. During the reporting period, special measures to integrate women, Aboriginal persons,
persons of colour and persons with disabilities into some workplaces are still permitted,
on a voluntary basis, under section 14 of Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The
Commission revised and updated its interpretive Guidelines on Special Programs in 1996
in order to reflect the new legislative environment.
1369. Ontario adopted the Equal Opportunity Plan, which recognizes that removing barriers to
opportunity is essential. The approach to fairness in the workplace is merit-based,
inclusive, voluntary and built on partnership. The plan encourages employers, employees
and government to co-operate in creating workplaces where merit is the basis for
employment practices. The foundation for the Equal Opportunity Plan is the Human
Rights Code, under which discrimination is against the law.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
Minimum wages
1370. A system of minimum wages has been established in Ontario. Protection dates from
1371. Some of the groups excluded from the application of minimum wages and reasons for
their exclusion include:
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qualified professionals: they generally enjoy a strong bargaining position and have
indicated a desire to remain exempt;
students who instruct or supervise children: their work provides them with teaching
experience, and coverage would increase program costs and may lead to their
farm workers: there are considerable uncertainties in farming due to seasonal factors
and farmers have little control over the market price of their products. Job losses may
result if farmers are unable to pass on incremental labour costs to consumers.
1372. Minimum wages are required to be paid under the Employment Standards Act, and rates
are set by regulation. The minimum wage is adjusted periodically to reflect declining
purchasing power of low-wage workers, loss of their position relative to wage gains of
workers generally, and changing minimum wage rates in other jurisdictions.
1373. The general minimum wage in Ontario as of October 1, 1989 was $5.00. It was raised to
$5.40 on October 1, 1990. As of January 1, 1995, it was $6.85. The minimum wage
increased by 37 percent from 1989 to 1995.
1374. The Employment Standards Act sets out the procedures for the administration and
enforcement of its provisions. It is administered by the Employment Practices Branch
and Employment Standards program staff in the field offices of the Operations Division,
Ministry of Labour. Where there is a finding of a violation of the Act, an Employment
Standards Officer will issue a Notice of Contravention or an Order to Pay. An employer
or an employee can appeal a decision of an Employment Standards Officer. The Ontario
Labour Relations Board provides adjudication of an appeal of an Employment Standards
Officer’s decision.
Equal pay
1375. Infringements of the principle of equal pay for equal work are addressed in the
Employment Standards Act. This protection has been in effect since 1951. Provisions
under the Employment Standards Act require that female employees receive the same rate
of pay as male employees for substantially the same work, performed under the same
working conditions. In addition to protection under the Employment Standards Act,
infringements of the principle of equal pay for equal work are addressed in the Pay
Equity Act (PEA). This protection has been in effect since 1988. The PEA requires that
women receive equal pay for work of equal or comparable value.
Occupational health and safety
1376. During the reporting period, there have been no significant changes to Ontario’s
Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
1377. OHSA legislation continues to be enforced through proactive workplace inspections, the
issuance of orders where non-compliance is found and through prosecutions. Inspections
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tend to target workplaces with poor occupational health and safety records or those where
particularly hazardous types of work are carried out.
1378. Ontario’s occupational health and safety legislation does not apply to the following:
farming operations; work done in the private home, by owner or occupant, or by servant
of owner or occupant; workplaces under federal jurisdiction (which are covered under the
Canada Labour Code).
1379. Statistics on the number and frequency of occupational injuries and illnesses in Ontario,
for the period 1989 to 1998, can be found in tables 2, 3 and 4.
Table 2: Total number of occupational fatalities and
Note: In Tables 2 and 4, the injury data relate to injuries where there is time lost from
work. The yearly fatality totals in Table 2 include worker deaths from an occupational
disease; worker deaths from a traumatic accident; and, the deaths of workers receiving a
100 percent permanent disability pension.
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Table 3: Occupational Fatalities
Note: The fatality totals are separated into these three categories in Table 3 to provide
information about the causes of occupational fatalities.
1380. Trends related to occupational fatalities include: long-term decline in total number of
fatalities per year; long-term decline in number of fatalities as a result of traumatic
accidents; and no discernible trend in number of fatalities as a result of occupational
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Table 4: Frequency of Injuries
(per 200,000 hours)
1381. Table 4 indicates a trend towards a long-term decline in injury frequency. Since 1995,
there has been an average yearly reduction of 6 percent in the lost-time injury rate.
Rest and leisure
1382. Under the Employment Standards Act, retail workers are specifically entitled to at least
36 consecutive hours of rest in every seven-day period, with some limited exceptions.
The One Day’s Rest in Seven Act states that employees working in a hotel, restaurant or
café in a municipality of 10,000 or more must be given at least one day off in any sevenday period.
Reasonable limitations of working hours
1383. Generally, the Employment Standards Act provides that maximum hours of work are
eight in a day, and 48 in a week, with overtime beginning after 44 hours in a week, with
some exceptions.
Periodic holidays with pay
1384. Employees who have worked for 12 months with the same employer qualify for two
weeks of vacation per year. They are paid vacation pay of at least 4 percent of the total
wages earned during the 12 months of qualifying employment.
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Remuneration for public holidays
1385. Under the Employment Standards Act, there are eight public holidays. Employees must
meet five conditions to qualify for a paid public holiday.
Vacation with pay
1386. The Employment Standards Improvement Act of 1996 (the 1996 Amendments) clarified
the following:
the length of employment to calculate vacation includes inactive employment;
each employee is entitled to two weeks of vacation upon the completion of 12 months
of employment; and
employers must pay vacation pay equal to not less than 4 percent of the employee’s
wages during the 12 months for which the vacation is given.
Pregnancy/parental leave
1387. The Employment Standards Improvement Act of 1996 provides that the period of
pregnancy/parental leave is included in the length of employment, service or seniority.
Termination notices and pay
1388. The Labour Relations and Statute Law Amendment Act of 1995 deemed a termination by
operation of law due to bankruptcy or other insolvency to be a termination by an
employer. The 1996 Amendments provided that termination pay is due within seven
days after termination
1389. The Employment Standards Improvement Act of 1996 provides that, as a general rule, an
employee must choose between filing a complaint under the Act and commencing a civil
action against his or her employer for the same matter.
Collective agreements and the Employment Standards Act
1390. The Employment Standards Improvement Act of 1996 provides that if an employer enters
into a collective agreement, the Act is enforceable against the employer as if it were part
of the collective agreement. However, subject to the Director’s discretion to permit
otherwise, an employee to whom a collective agreement applies must seek enforcement
of the Act through the applicable grievance procedures in the collective agreement.
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Sexual harassment
1391. In 1998, the Ontario Human Rights Commission introduced a new procedure to help
victims of sexual harassment identify situations of violence and refer them to appropriate
community services, including the police.
1392. The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a discussion paper in October 1999 and
undertook consultations on human rights issues in insurance.
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
Restrictions on trade union rights
1393. The right of trade unions to exist is guaranteed under section 2(d) of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter), which establishes freedom of association as a
constitutional right. This right is reinforced in Ontario by the Labour Relations Act, 1995
(LRA), which governs collective bargaining and labour relations in most workplaces in
Ontario. Section 5 of the LRA states that every person is free to join the trade union of
his or her choice and to participate in its lawful activities.
1394. The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) determines whether an organized group of
employees constitutes a trade union within the meaning of the Act. In order to obtain
status as a trade union, the organization of employees requires:
A written constitution which sets out the purpose of the organization (one of which
must be the regulation of labour relations), the procedure for electing officers, and the
procedure for calling meetings.
Formal ratification of the constitution by its members.
Election of officers pursuant to the constitution to administer and represent the union.
1395. A second method of obtaining trade union status is to have the organization of employees
apply to a parent union for a charter as a “local.” This charter will indicate that the local
will adhere to the constitution of the parent. The parent must then demonstrate to the
Board that the charter has been properly issued to the local in accordance with its
Acquiring bargaining rights
1396. If an organization of employees has trade union status, it can become the bargaining
agent for those employees by either voluntary recognition or certification. Voluntary
recognition occurs where an employer recognizes, in writing, the trade union as the
exclusive bargaining agent for the employees in a defined bargaining unit. Certification
occurs where the trade union receives the majority support of affected employees in a
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secret ballot vote. To obtain a vote, the union must show the support of 40 percent of
affected employees.
1397. The Economic Development and Workplace Democracy Act, 1998 (EDWA) amended the
Labour Relations Act (LRA) by removing the Ontario Labour Relations Board’s (OLRB)
ability to automatically certify a union, despite a negative worker vote, where the
employer has contravened the LRA. EDWA amended the LRA (section 11) to enable the
OLRB to take measures to ensure that a fair secret ballot takes place where the employer
has contravened the LRA; and to enable the OLRB to do anything to ensure that a new
representation vote, ordered under this section, reflects the true wishes of the employees
in the bargaining unit.
1398. EDWA also amended the LRA to allow employers to disagree with the trade union’s
estimate of the number of individuals in the bargaining unit in its certification application
(section 8.1). If the employer disagrees with the union’s estimate, it provides the OLRB
with notice of its disagreement. The OLRB is then authorized to order that the ballot box
for the representation vote be sealed or dismiss the application for certification. If the
OLRB does not dismiss the application, it will determine whether the description of the
bargaining unit in the certification application is appropriate for collective bargaining. If
it disagrees with the description, it may determine the unit, which is appropriate, and then
determine the number in that unit. If less than 40 percent of individuals in the proposed
unit are union members, the Board will direct that the ballots be destroyed. If 40 percent
or more of the individuals in the proposed unit are union members, the Board will order
the ballot box to be counted and either certify the union or dismiss its application.
LRA exclusions
1399. As stated in Ontario’s 1998 report on ILO Convention 98, police collective bargaining is
regulated by two statutes: the Public Service Act (provincial police) and the Police
Services Act (municipal police). Both acts contain provisions, which allow for the
resolution of collective bargaining disputes by binding arbitration. The Ontario
Provincial Police Association, which represents 4,600 members, bargains on behalf of the
Ontario Provincial Police. The approximate 19,600 municipal police in Ontario are
represented either by the Police Association of Ontario, or local police associations such
as the Toronto Police Association.
1400. The LRA excludes agricultural workers, domestic workers, and professionals (including
labour mediators and conciliators) from its collective bargaining regime. However, they
are free to form professional associations outside the collective bargaining regime of the
LRA. The rationale for the exclusion of agricultural workers and domestic workers from
the LRA is that their unique work structures are incompatible with the collective
bargaining regime in the LRA. The agricultural sector, in particular, is characterized by a
high incidence of family ownership structures which are incompatible with the collective
bargaining regime of the LRA.
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1401. The repeal of the Agricultural Labour Relations Act (ALRA) by the LRA is the subject of
an ILO complaint by the Canadian Labour Congress and a domestic appeal by the United
Food and Commercial Workers Union, which argued that the repeal contravened the
freedom of association provision of the Charter. The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed
the appeal on January 26, 1999. The Supreme Court of Canada subsequently held that
section 3(b) of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA) is unconstitutional to the extent
that it excludes agricultural workers from the protective framework of the Act.
1402. The Education Quality Improvement Act, 1998 (EQIA) excludes principals and viceprincipals from inclusion in teachers’ bargaining units and the collective bargaining
regime of the LRA. However, the EQIA does not prohibit the province’s
7,398 principals and vice-principals from forming and joining professional associations
outside the framework of the LRA. Three provincial associations of principals and viceprincipals have already been established and are actively involved in discussions with
school boards concerning conditions of employment.
1403. The Ontario Works Act, 1997 (Bill 22) which includes a requirement for participation in
community services, prohibits participants from joining trade unions and engaging in
collective bargaining under the LRA. However, it does not deny freedom of association
to community activity participants because they continue to have the right to form
associations and organize outside of the framework of the LRA. Bill 22 is the subject of
an ILO complaint by the Canadian Labour Congress. In response to this complaint, the
ILO’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights requested that the province
amend the legislation to grant community participants the right to organize.
1404. The Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA) governs labour relations for
firefighters. Part IX of the FPPA requires that collective bargaining disputes be resolved
through binding arbitration. Volunteer firefighters are not covered by Part IX of this
legislation. They are entitled to organize under the LRA, provided that they meet the
definition of “employee” under the LRA. As such, there is no prohibition on their
forming an organization of volunteer firefighters to negotiate working conditions with the
employer outside the framework of Part IX of the FPPA. There are approximately
17,000 volunteer firefighters (representing approximately 80 percent of the total number
of firefighters), who are subject to this exclusion.
Right of trade unions to federate and join international trade organizations
1405. Ontario legislation does not prohibit trade unions from federating and joining
international trade unions. The definition of trade union within the LRA includes an
international union or a federation/council of unions.
1406. The sole restriction placed on this activity by the LRA is where an international union
places a local under trusteeship. In this case, the LRA requires that the international
union file with the OLRB, a statement specifying the terms under which control is to be
exercised, and any additional information, which the Ministry of Labour may require.
The period of trusteeship is limited to 12 months and subject to renewal by the Board.
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Ability of trade unions to function freely
1407. Freedom of association, which includes the right to join a trade union of one’s choice, is a
constitutionally guaranteed right. Section 5 of the LRA establishes the legality of trade
union membership and participation in its lawful activities.
1408. Section 2 of the Ontario Rights of Labour Act, R.S.O.1990, states that a union or its acts
cannot be deemed to be unlawful solely because its activities are in restraint of trade.
Limitations on ability of trade unions to function freely
1409. The LRA regulates trade unions by requiring that they:
Furnish financial statements to their members upon request (section 90);
File a copy of their constitution, by-laws, and the names and addresses of officers
upon the direction of the OLRB (section 91);
Refrain from counselling, supporting, encouraging, or threatening an unlawful strike;
Refrain from intimidation or coercion of employees in order to recruit members;
prevent their exercise of rights/obligations under the LRA; or cease their membership
in a trade union or employer’s organization;
Obtain the support of 50 percent or more of their members through a secret ballot
before engaging in a lawful strike (section 79(3))
Owe a duty of fair representation to their members (section 74).
Owe a duty of fair referral to their members where they refer members to
employment (section 75).
1410. The Public Service Act, which governs Crown employees, limits the issues negotiable in
collective bargaining in a number of areas. (These are listed in paragraph 2 of section 6 of
the Ontario Report on ILO Convention 98.)
1411. Statutes setting out interest arbitration regimes (the IPPA, Public Service Act, Police
Services Act, Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act) set out criteria which must be
considered by interest arbitrators in making awards.
1412. In 1995, the successor rights provision under the Crown Employees Collective
Bargaining Act, 1993 (CECBA) was repealed. The sale of a Crown business effectively
terminates the bargaining rights of the certified union and the collective agreement in
operation at the time of sale. However, transferred employees are free to re-certify under
the LRA.
1413. Section 25 of CECBA states that all designated bargaining units of employees covered by
the Act are deemed to be one bargaining unit, covered by a central agreement, which
governs: dispute resolution, employment security and mobility, prohibitions against
discrimination, pensions, long term disability insurance, benefits, wages (with the consent
of parties), and any other matters which the parties may agree upon. Furthermore, the
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bargaining agents representing each of the designated units are deemed to be a certified
council of trade unions and are governed by the central agreement.
Measures taken to promote free collective bargaining
1414. The Labour Relations Act promotes workplace democracy by:
Requiring every collective agreement to contain a recognition provision
(section 45(1)).
Requiring a mandatory ratification vote of any proposed agreement or memorandum
of settlement (section 44(1)). This ensures that the ratification of the agreement is
Preserving the bargaining rights of the certified union of the predecessor employer
where a business is sold to a successor employer (section 69).
Protecting unions from employer interference (sections 70, 73, 76).
Prohibiting use of professional strikebreakers (section 78).
Prohibiting employers from engaging in strike misconduct (section 78).
Prohibiting employers from discriminating against any employee for exercising his or
her rights under the LRA and requiring employers to reinstate employees engaged in
a lawful strike within six months of the commencement of the strike (section 80)
upon their application for reinstatement.
Requiring a mandatory strike vote before permitting trade unions from engaging in a
lawful strike. The vote requires the approval of 50 percent or more of the union
constituency. This ensures that a mandate to strike is democratic.
Structure of trade unions
1415. There are approximately 145 trade unions and professional associations in Ontario.
Right to strike
1416. The right to strike is a legal and statutory right under the Labour Relations Act. The Act
permits trade unions to strike if there is no collective agreement in operation and 14 days
have elapsed after the exhaustion of conciliation procedures.
1417. Since 1995, trade unions are also required to conduct a secret ballot strike vote in order to
obtain a valid strike mandate from their members. A successful strike mandate requires
the support of over 50 percent of the union members voting.
1418. Strikes and lockouts are prohibited in the fire services, hospital and police services
sectors because the continuous delivery of services in these sectors is essential to public
safety. Unresolved disputes in these sectors are settled by third party interest arbitrators
or arbitration boards.
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1419. Specifically, section 42(1) of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act (FPPA) prohibits
firefighters from engaging in a strike. Approximately 9,000 full-time firefighters are
subject to this prohibition.
1420. Section 11(1) of the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA) prohibits
hospital and nursing home employees from engaging in a strike. Approximately
160,581 hospital and nursing home employees are subject to this prohibition.
1421. Section 75 of the Police Services Act prohibits municipal police from engaging in a
strike. The Public Service Act explicitly excludes provincial police from the right to
strike provisions. Approximately 6,000 provincial police and over 19,600 municipal
police are subject to this prohibition.
1422. Under the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act (CECBA), trade unions and
employers are required to negotiate an essential services agreement before engaging in a
strike or lockout (section 3). Under this agreement, the union and employer designate
employees who will be required to work during a legal strike or lockout to ensure the
delivery of essential services. The designated employees are, therefore, prohibited from
participating in a strike (section 39(3)).
1423. Either party to the collective agreement has recourse to the Ontario Labour Relations
Board if it feels that the essential services agreement has prevented meaningful collective
bargaining (section 42(1)).
1424. No restrictions are imposed by the police or armed forces on the rights enumerated in
Article 8 of the Covenant.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
1425. The Social Assistance Reform Act, 1997, created two separate statutes, the Ontario Works
Act (OWA), 1997, and the Ontario Disability Support Program Act (ODSPA), 1997.
The OWA was proclaimed May 1, 1998, replacing the General Welfare Act (GWA).
ODSPA was proclaimed June 1, 1998. People with disabilities and permanently
unemployable people under the Family Benefits Act were transferred to the Ontario
Disability Support Program on June 1, 1998. Sole-support parents under FBA have been
transferred to Ontario Works.
1426. Ontario Works provides employment assistance and financial assistance to eligible
persons in temporary financial need. The municipalities and First Nations communities
deliver Ontario Works. Basic assistance and benefits are cost-shared with Consolidated
Municipal Service Managers and First Nations Delivery Agents. The Government of
Canada covers the 20 percent First Nations share.
1427. The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) provides income and employment
supports to people with disabilities. The province delivers ODSP and the program is costshared with municipalities at a rate of 80/20.
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1428. The following tables provide statistics with regard to those in receipt of income and
employment support under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario
Works (OW). The figures provided are for the 1998-1999 fiscal year ending March 31,
Table 5: Ontario Works Basic and Shelter Rates
Basic Needs
Single Person
Couple + 1 Child
Couple + 2 Children
Single + 1 Child
Single + 2 Children
Single + 3 Children
Note: All children are aged 12 and under. Basic rates are for renters and owners.
Table 6: Social Assistance Rates: A comparison of social assistance rates across Canada
for selected jurisdictions and case types follows (in order by single person rate)
Single + 1 Child
(under 12)
Couple + 2 Children (1 under
and 1 over 12)
British Columbia
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick
Source: “Welfare Incomes 1999.” National Council of Welfare, autumn, 2000
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1429. Ontario Works earn back (also called the flat rate exemption or the basic earnings
exemption) allows recipients to “earn back” the difference between the rates in effect
before October 1995 and after October 1995 without a reduction in their assistance.
Other earnings exemptions, including deductions for childcare expenses, are available for
income earned above the earn-back amount.
Table 7: Ontario Works Earn Back
Selected Ontario Works Case Type
Earn Back Amount
Single person
Single parent with one child
Single parent with two children
1430. In addition to monthly financial assistance, both ODSP and Ontario Works provide a
number of benefits including:
drug benefits, dental and vision care, costs associated with assistive devices, diabetic
supplies, surgical supplies, dressings, and medical transportation;
a back to school allowance and a winter clothing allowance for dependent children;
earning exemptions that allow for the retention of a portion of earned income and
exemption for training allowances and deductions for certain employment expenses
such as child care;
reimbursement or advance payment of child care costs;
the provision of employment assistance to help recipients get a job;
an “Employment Start-Up Benefit” for appropriate clothing, shoes and other supplies
to assist a person when beginning employment assistance activities and employment;
a “Community Start-Up Benefit” for those who are dislocated and/or who are setting
up an independent residence within a community; and
a special diet benefit.
1431. The Ontario Works program has an over-riding objective to assist people to become
financially independent by the shortest route to employment based on the individual’s
skills, experience, needs and circumstances. The government’s commitment includes an
investment in new and innovative programs to help people become independent. The
government is committed to link welfare with work and education, as well as special
programs for children in need.
1432. Ontario’s welfare offices were re-oriented toward connecting recipients with work or
training leading to employment. In addition, the province continues to provide support
programs and services for people on social assistance with specialized employment
needs, to help them find work and get the skills they need to move into the workforce.
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1433. Social assistance rates are calculated to meet the basic needs of individuals and families
in Ontario. On average, Ontario rates are 10 percent higher than those of other provinces.
An allowance is calculated based on individual circumstances to meet the basic food,
clothing and shelter needs of recipients.
1434. The government is committed to ensuring that people in need receive adequate benefits
and encourages recipients to work by allowing earnings exemptions under the Supports to
Employment Program, including higher exemptions for families with children.
1435. The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is an income support program outside
of the welfare system for people with disabilities. The ODSP helps people with
disabilities on a voluntary basis to get and keep a job, and provides access to supports,
items and services that are needed for employment. ODSP provides for a centralized
adjudication process with fair eligibility criteria for disability.
1436. Rates for single persons receiving ODSP are 47.8 percent above the average of other
provinces. ODSP recipients can work while retaining a portion of their employment
earnings and can continue to receive ODSP income support. The government has
enhanced support and services to employment by introducing the Employment Supports
Program under the ODSP through which employment supports, required by people with
disabilities to become self-sufficient, are available.
Employment injury benefits
1437. With the passage of Bill 99, the Workers’ Compensation Act was repealed and a new
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) came into force on January 1, 1998. The
Workers Compensation Board was renamed the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
1438. Approximately two thirds of Ontario’s working population is covered under the WSIA.
The WSIB remains a publicly administered, compulsory system, where employers bear
the costs based on a collective liability or insurance scheme.
1439. The major changes to workplace insurance benefits brought about through Bill 99
the level of benefits was changed from 90 to 85 percent of pre-injury net earnings;
a modified inflation indexing formula was adopted for most injured workers: half of
the Consumer Price Index, minus 1 percent, with a cap of 4 percent. Full inflation
protection is preserved for those who are 100 percent disabled, and surviving spouses;
compensation is continued for chronic pain, while an independent scientific study into
chronic pain is undertaken;
workers must apply for benefits within six months of the date of injury and consent to
the release of information to the employer about the worker’s functional abilities;
workers and employers must make and maintain contact during the recovery period
and co-operate in return-to-work efforts;
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injured workers who are unable to return-to-work with their pre-injury employers will
be assessed for a market re-entry plan, designed to assist them in finding alternate
Regarding poverty among single mothers and children
1440. The government announced a start-up funding of $5 million for a provincial child
nutrition initiative to help parents and groups set up or expand local nutrition programs.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Public Health Division’s Mandatory Health
Programs and Services Guidelines (December 1997) include a program standard for
Chronic Disease Prevention. Under this standard the board of health is required to “work
with community agencies and groups to promote access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and
personally acceptable food for people of all ages. This shall include as a minimum:
monitor, annually, the cost of a nutritious food basket according to the Ministry of
Health Monitoring the Cost of a Nutritious Food Basket Protocol (June 1, 1998).
Information about the cost of a nutritious food basket is to be used on an ongoing
basis to promote and support policy development to increase access to healthy food;
develop and disseminate an inventory of local programs and services which increase
access to healthy foods. The inventory shall be updated annually;
work with community agencies and groups to improve access to healthy foods on an
ongoing basis; and
promote and provide consultation and training sessions to community agencies and
groups that are involved in increasing access to healthy foods on an ongoing basis.”
1441. Other supports to children in need include coverage for dental care, vision care and some
prescribed drugs. Additional supports include back to school allowances, winter clothing
allowances and allowances for special diets, where required.
1442. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Public Health Division’s
Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines (December 1997) includes a Child
Health program. The fourth objective of the program is “to increase access to and the use
of needs-based services and supports for children who are at risk of poor physical,
cognitive, communicative, and psychosocial development and their families.” Six
Requirements and Standards of the Child Health program directed at local boards of
health deal with dental services. They include a variety of education, skills development
and consultation services, the Children In Need Of Treatment (CINOT) dental program,
monitoring water fluoridation where fluoride is added to the water supply, oral health
screening, and clinical preventative services.
1443. The government understands that quality childcare is important not only to build strong
families, but also to build economic growth. For many Ontario families, childcare is an
important resource that helps parents balance the challenges of work and family. Ontario
now spends over $700 million on childcare — the highest level in the history of the
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1444. Childcare fee subsidies provide financial assistance towards the cost of licensed childcare
for parents deemed to be ‘in need’ and parents of children with special needs. Eligible
parents with school-age children may receive fee subsidies for approved recreation
programs. Fee subsidies are also available to parents on social assistance who are
participating in activities such as education, training, or employment, and may be used
towards the cost of licensed or informal childcare. The Learning, Earning and Parenting
program provides child care funding and other supports, targeted to teen parents on social
assistance to help them finish school and give their children a better start in life.
1445. Lack of adequate housing is not included in Ontario’s legislative definition of a child in
need of protection. Some children who are apprehended due to protection concerns
(e.g., physical, sexual or emotional abuse, abandonment) may also be living in situations
characterized by lack of housing or other necessities. However, it is the protection
concerns that would prompt the apprehension.
1446. Should families seek a foster care placement for reasons related to lack of housing or
other necessities, the Children’s Aid Society will work with the parents to access
resources that would enable the family to stay together.
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
Age of majority
1447. Regulations under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act set out minimum age
requirements for various types of work, as follows:
14 years old to work in an industrial establishment other than a factory;
15 years in a factory;
16 years in a logging operation;
16 years at a construction project;
16 years at a mining plant or a surface mine, excluding the working face;
18 years at an underground mine or at the working face of a surface mine;
18 years to operate a hoist; and,
18 years old to work as a window cleaner.
1448. In 1997, the government earmarked $15 million more to help families care for their
children with a developmental disability. In 1999, an additional $35 million was
announced for more community based support and services.
1449. Assistance to Children with Severe Disabilities, a monthly benefit to assist parents of
children with severe disabilities, who care for their child at home, is a social assistance
program that continues to grow. Over the past 10 years, there has been a $20 million
increase in new resources supporting 5,000 more families.
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1450. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Public Health Division’s
Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines (January 1997) includes a program
standard for Infection Control. Under this standard boards of health are required to
ensure that infection control programs are in place in day nurseries. Activities shall
include as a minimum inspection of the premises at least twice a year which includes
diaper routines and general housekeeping practices and to ensure safe drinking water,
safe food and sanitary facilities.
1451. The government’s policy is to encourage the integration of children with special needs
into community childcare services with their peers. Children should only be placed in
segregated settings when no other appropriate or safe placement is possible for them. In
addition, no parent should have to pay a higher childcare fee for a child with special
needs than for any other child. Accordingly, special needs resource services, which
include trained resource teachers, as well as special equipment and supplies, are made
available at no additional cost to parents.
1452. The Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996, replaced the
Family Support Plan Act of 1992. The government’s Family Responsibility Office
continued working to ensure that non-custodial parents recognized and fulfilled their
support obligations to their families so as to maintain the well-being and quality of their
life. In fiscal year 1999-2000, the Family Responsibility Office collected $534.8 million
in support obligations, including $49.8 million returned to provincial and municipal
social assistance agencies for funds previously paid out to families as social assistance.
Between the fiscal year 1994-1995 and 1999-2000, $2.7 billion was collected and
disbursed to support recipients under the two legislative schemes.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
1453. In 1996 and 1999, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released its policy on
discrimination because of pregnancy to ensure that women, employers and service
providers know that pregnant women and breastfeeding women have the right to be
accommodated particularly in the workplace.
1454. The goal of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Public Health Division’s
Reproductive Health program is to support healthy pregnancies. The focus of
reproductive health is on planning for a healthy pregnancy and promoting healthy
behaviours and environments before and during pregnancy. The program’s minimum
requirement includes providing annual consultation to schools, promoting and providing
public education through group sessions, distributing information through mass media,
working with health professionals to enhance their knowledge, working with
coalitions/networks of community agencies and working with workplace personnel. The
information must include:
The impact of type and hours of work;
Established chemical, physical and biological hazards;
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Workplace programs and policies demonstrated to have a positive impact on
reproductive outcomes.
1455. The program offers assistance to workplace and workplace personnel in the development
and implementation of workplace programs and policies to promote and protect the
health of pregnant workers, including offering presentations to employers every six
months and providing ongoing advice and consultation to employers as requested.
1456. A central objective of the Child Health program is to increase to 50 percent the
percentage of infants breast-fed up to six months by the year 2010. Requirement 4c
states that “a local board of health shall advocate for and assist in the development of
policies to support breastfeeding in the workplace, restaurants, shopping malls and other
public places.”
Pregnancy leave and employment benefits
1457. The Employment Standards Act provides a right to pregnant women to take a leave of
17 weeks. (New parents are also entitled to take a parental leave of 18 weeks.) These
leaves are unpaid. The following rights apply:
the employer must reinstate the employee to the position most recently held, or a
comparable position, if the position held does not exist;
the employee will be paid the same wage on her return to work, or a higher wage, if
that is what she would have earned if she had worked throughout the leave;
the employer must continue contributing to certain benefits if provided, unless the
employee gives notice that she does not intend to continue contributing her portion;
the employee continues to accrue credit for service and seniority while on leave.
1458. The Employment Standards Act does not provide for compulsory leave after confinement.
Social security benefits granted during these periods
1459. An employee continues to participate in pension plans, life insurance plans, accidental
death plans, extended health plans and dental plans, if these are provided by the
employer, and if she wishes them to continue and to contribute her portion throughout her
1460. Individuals who do not fall within the definition of “employee” are excluded from the
application of the Employment Standards Act, which contains pregnancy and parental
leave provisions. The following individuals are also excluded:
a secondary school student who performs work under a work experience program
authorized by a school board of the school in which the student is enrolled;
a person who performs work under a program approved by a community college or
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a participant in community participation under the Ontario Works Act, 1997;
an inmate of a correctional institution who participates inside or outside the institution
in a work project or rehabilitation program authorized under the Ministry of
Correctional Services Act; and
an offender who performs work of services under order or sentence of a court.
Protection of children in need
1461. Child welfare services are provided by 53 children’s aid societies, five of which are
designated as “Aboriginal societies.” In 1999, there were 56,159 cases of protection and
prevention (non-residential) and 13,593 cases of children in care (residential).
1462. The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies reported the following information
for 1999. (Please note that information from the five “Aboriginal Societies” are included
in these statistics):
22,208 children were served;
9,111 children were admitted to care;
76 percent of children were in care as a result of a court order;
55.2 percent of children were placed in foster homes;
40 percent of children in care were crown wards;
at any one time, 68.1 percent of cases were open at intake/assessment;
21.2 percent were open for ongoing protection services and 10.7 percent were open
for voluntary services.
Other measures
1463. The government has launched a number of initiatives to curb domestic violence in the
province, including:
the Domestic Violence Justice Strategy which focuses on early intervention to reduce
the trauma of violence, coordinated prosecution, support to victims and an emphasis
on offender accountability;
expansion of specially designed child friendly courts to help make the courtroom less
intimidating for young victims and witnesses;
expansion of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program from 13 sites to 26 sites;
the first Domestic Violence Courts which are currently expanding and enhancing the
courts in 16 sites.
1464. Since 1994, the Ministry of Attorney General’s Criminal Law Division has adopted a
policy of vigorous prosecution of child abuse and domestic violence. This policy is
contained in the Crown Policy Manual available to all crown attorneys and assistant
crown attorneys.
1465. In 1999, amendments to the Child and Family Services Amendment Act were passed as
part of a comprehensive reform of the child welfare system in the province. In response,
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the Criminal Law Division issued a practice memorandum to all crown attorneys in the
province clarifying the impact of the legislation on the duty to report cases of suspected
child abuse.
1466. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Public Health Division’s
Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines (December 1997) include a Sexual
Health program to reduce sexual assault and abuse.
1467. The first Requirement and Standard of the Sexual Health program is: “a board of health
shall work with community partners to ensure the provision of programs to the public that
promote appropriate individual reproductive and sexual health choices. Content of
programs shall include: knowledge, attitudes and the development of behaviour
appropriate to the individual’s reproductive age and maturity.” Additionally, programs
must include as a minimum:
sexual behaviour, personal responsibility and decision-making;
relationships and assertiveness, including techniques for negotiating safer sex;
sexual assault and abuse.
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
1468. Living standards rose during the reporting period. Ontario’s GDP grew by 4.3 percent in
1998 and by 5.7 percent in 1999. Personal income grew 4.8 percent in 1998 and a further
4.5 percent in 1999. From the second quarter of 1996 to the fourth quarter of 1999,
Ontarians’ real disposable income increased by 11.6 percent.
Social assistance
1469. Social assistance reform included new welfare rates, tightened eligibility rules, steps to
eliminate welfare fraud and the introduction of mandatory work-for-welfare.
1470. Ontario Works provides financial support for basic needs and shelter primarily for people
who are actively taking steps to find and keep employment. Ontario rates are on average
22 percent higher than the average rates of the other nine provinces. Welfare recipients
continue to receive additional supports including mandatory special necessities, back-toschool clothing allowance, prescription drug benefits, dental benefits and employment
1471. Disability benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) remain the
highest among the provinces and eligibility was protected when recipients were
transferred from Family Benefits to ODSP on June 1, 1998. Rates for single persons
receiving ODSP are 49.1 percent above the average of other provinces.
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1472. The following data are estimates from Statistics Canada regarding Ontario’s housing
stock for the end of 1999. (These figures are based on the 1996 Census). The total
number of private occupied and vacant dwellings in Ontario in 1999 was estimated to be
4.30 million. Of these, 2.77 million (64.4 percent) were owned and 1.53 million
(35.6 percent) were rented.
Table 8: Number of Persons Living in Owner-occupied and Rental Housing 1996
Tenure Type
Number of
Average number of
Estimated number
of Persons
10,642,000 (1)
(1) Because this figure is an estimate based on an average number of persons per
household, it slightly (0.35 percent) overestimates the number of persons in Ontario,
which the 1996 Census found was 10,605,000.
1473. Of the estimated 1.53 million rented private occupied and vacant dwellings in Ontario at
the end of 1999, approximately 271,000 rental dwellings were social housing units —
84,000 in public housing, 159,000 in non-profit housing and 28,000 in other forms of
assisted housing.
Waiting lists for accommodation
1474. The following table provides data on the number of people on waiting lists for public
housing submitted by Local Housing Authorities for the period from January 1994 to
December 1999.
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Table 9: Waiting Lists for Public Housing
Number of Persons
December 1994
December 1995
December 1996
March 1997
December 1998
December 1999
Note: These figures do not include non-profit and co-op housing waiting lists. Applicants
are not restricted from placing their names on several waiting lists across several different
1475. The Ontario Government has adopted several measures designed to encourage enabling
strategies whereby local community-based organizations and the informal sector can
provide housing services.
1476. The Community Partners Program, for example, has been funded and run by Ontario
during the 1994 to 1999 period. The program utilizes volunteers to help low-income
households find affordable rental units in the private sector. The administration of the
program has recently been devolved to municipalities but some $2,300,000 in funding
continues to come from the Province.
Legislation concerning rights of tenants
1477. Ontario has a number of statutes, such as the Tenant Protection Act and aspects of the
Ontario Human Rights Code, which provide a consistent legislative basis for the
relationships between housing providers and consumers.
1478. During 1994-1999, the Housing Development Act, which regulates social housing and the
Municipal Act, which sets out the powers and responsibilities of municipal governments,
remained in effect with only minor changes to improve their function.
Legislation relevant to land planning
1479. The Planning Act is enabling legislation, which provides municipalities with authority to
develop policy governing the location and distribution of land uses through official plans,
and to implement controls over land uses and density through zoning. This Act contains
procedures for public participation in planning matters.
1480. The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) is also to be used in accordance with the Planning
Act. The PPS provides policy guidance regarding matters of provincial interest, that
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decision-making authorities shall have regard to when making decisions, which affect
land use planning matters.
Legislation affecting rental housing
1481. The Tenant Protection Act (TPA) was proclaimed on June 17, 1998. The TPA is
intended to improve the climate for investment in Ontario’s existing rental stock,
encourage investment in the construction of new rental housing, protect tenants from
arbitrary eviction and unfair rent increases, improve enforcement of maintenance and
repair of the existing rental stock, and streamline the administration of regulation.
1482. Under the TPA, landlords and tenants have access to the Ontario Rental Housing
Tribunal (ORHT), a quasi-judicial body established to administer the legislation and to
adjudicate disputes related to security of tenure and increases in rent above the regulatory
guideline. The TPA provides rights of appeal.
1483. Rent increases for tenants are limited to the annual guideline amount unless the landlord
receives approval from the ORHT. The guideline amount has been at or below 3 percent
annually from 1995. The guideline amount was 3 percent for the year 1998 and also
3 percent for the year 1999. Landlords must provide tenants with written notice of a rent
increase and can only increase the rent once in a 12-month period. Tenants must be
notified of applications to increase the rent by an amount above the guideline, and may
dispute the rent increase at an ORHT hearing.
1484. The TPA requires landlords to maintain rental units in a state of good repair and to
comply with health, safety and maintenance-related standards. Landlords who fail to do
so may be subject to a range of penalties. The TPA also increases the powers of
municipalities to enforce standards and penalties against landlords who persistently fail to
provide vital services.
Legislation concerning building codes
1485. The Ontario Building Code Act is the foundational legislation for the Ontario Building
Code, the regulatory instrument that sets out standards for the construction, renovation
and change of use of buildings in Ontario.
1486. The Ontario Building Code was changed in 1999 to reduce the minimum required area
for a dwelling unit. This is intended to remove a barrier to the development of new single
room occupancy units (SROs), which are small dwelling units that include a kitchen and
bathroom. While SROs are smaller than traditional rental units, they are generally less
expensive to build, and therefore can be offered at lower rents. The loss of this type of
unit and rooming houses in many North American cities is often seen as an important
factor in the rise of homelessness.
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1487. Until June 17, 1998, eviction applications were heard by the provincial courts, which fall
under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. The Tenant
Protection Act consolidated six core pieces of legislation dealing with residential
tenancies into one act. The TPA addresses security of tenure issues, and sets out the
eviction process and grounds for eviction. The eviction process requires that the tenant
receive notice, and provides the tenant an opportunity to dispute the eviction application
at an ORHT hearing. Under the TPA, mediation services are also available which allow
landlords and tenants to attempt to resolve their own disputes with the assistance of a
1488. The TPA protects tenants from arbitrary eviction and contains strong anti-harassment
rules. It is an offence for a landlord to use harassment to force a tenant to vacate a rental
unit, or to interfere with a tenant securing his or her rights under the Act.
1489. With the proclamation of the TPA, the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal (ORHT) became
responsible for hearing residential eviction applications rather than the courts. The
ORHT is a quasi-judicial body established to administer the Act and resolve landlord and
tenant disputes. Although the ORHT is responsible for processing eviction applications,
it does not enforce evictions. This remains the responsibility of the Sheriff's Office.
1490. The TPA and its predecessor, the Landlord and Tenant Act, strive to protect tenants from
arbitrary eviction. Tenants, including those in weekly or monthly rental in rooming
houses and care homes, are covered by the security of tenure provisions set out under the
TPA. The TPA sets out the process which landlords must follow to obtain an eviction.
Under the TPA, tenants must be notified of the landlord’s application, and in all cases
have the opportunity to dispute the grounds for eviction at a hearing before the ORHT.
The opportunity to attempt to resolve disputes through mediation is also offered to parties
under the TPA.
1491. The Sheriff’s Office does not maintain statistical information specifically for the number
of evictions related to residential tenancy they enforce each year. Instead, evictions are
recorded within the category of “writs of possession” issued. Presenting this data would
be an inaccurate reflection of the number of evictions that occur as this data also
encompasses civil law cases unrelated to landlord and tenant matters.
Legislation prohibiting discrimination in housing
1492. The Ontario Human Rights Code is the legislation that prevents discrimination generally
in the province. Ontario Regulation 290/98 under the Code clarifies for both landlords
and tenants the type of information which landlords can require of prospective tenants,
and how this information may be used.
1493. Ontario Regulation 290/98 establishes acceptable business practices which landlords can
use in the tenant selection process. It allows landlords to ask for and use a number of
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factors together in assessing a prospective tenant. These factors include income
information, credit checks, credit references and credit history. This information may be
collected provided that it is employed in a way that conforms to the requirements of the
Human Rights Code.
1494. A brochure entitled “Human Rights Code Protection for Tenants” has been produced to
assist landlords and tenants to observe the requirements of this regulation.
Environmental planning and health in housing
1495. Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) makes it possible for the public to
participate in government decision-making on matters that could affect the environment.
The EBR applies to prescribed Ontario ministries and prescribed Ontario legislation.
1496. The EBR also requires a Statement of Environmental Values (SEV) from all prescribed
government ministries. A SEV explains: (1) how the purposes of the EBR will be
applied when decisions that might significantly affect the environment are made in the
ministry; and (2) how consideration of the purposes of the EBR will be integrated with
other considerations, including social, economic and scientific considerations.
Affordable housing
1497. In 1999, the number of renter households whose rent payments exceeded 30 percent of
gross household income was estimated to be 33 percent, or approximately 500,000 out of
a total of 1.53 million renter households.
1498. The Ontario Government has made a number of legislative and taxation changes, which
facilitate the construction of affordable housing.
1499. The introduction of the Tenant Protection Act encourages investment in both the
construction of new rental housing and the maintenance of existing stock while at the
same time providing strong tenant protection against unfair rent increases, arbitrary
eviction and harassment.
1500. The Government has also implemented:
a new land use planning system which streamlines the planning approvals process;
a new Development Charges Act, which restricts costs that municipalities can pass on
to builders;
a revised Ontario Building Code which ensures standards are cost-effective,
streamlined and focussed on core objectives of health, safety and accessibility; and,
the Fair Municipal Finance Act, which gives municipalities the option to tax new
apartment buildings at a lower rate to encourage new construction.
1501. As a stimulus to the construction of affordable multi-residential rental accommodation,
the government significantly reduced the impact of the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) on
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building materials used in construction. The government would provide grants to
builders equal to the PST paid on building materials, to a maximum of $2,000 per rental
unit constructed.
Housing budget
1502. The following table expresses the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing budget as a
percentage of the actual provincial expenditures for the period in question. It should be
noted that Ontario operates on an April 1 to March 31 fiscal year.
Table 10
Ontario Public
Ministry Budget
Ministry Budget as
% of Ontario
(1) This is an interim figure.
Note: The data in this table is drawn from the Public Accounts of the Province of Ontario for the
relevant periods, as well as from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing Budget
1503. Homelessness is a significant concern to the province of Ontario. In March 1999, the
government announced a Provincial Homelessness Strategy which included a
commitment to fund 10,000 new rent supplement units to assist households in need to
afford adequate housing.
1504. In November 1999, the Minister of Community and Social Services and the Minister of
Municipal Affairs and Housing jointly announced a package of measures to implement
the Provincial Homelessness Strategy.
1505. A new rent supplement program was also announced. As a result of savings accessed
through the federal/provincial social housing agreement signed on November 17, 1999,
the Province committed an additional $50 million annually to be spent on rent
supplements for low-income households. These funds could help up to 10,000 lowincome individuals and families across Ontario. Two thousand of these units have been
set aside for supportive housing.
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1506. The Provincial Homelessness Strategy also includes an additional $45 million in funding:
to develop housing spaces and supports to housing for people with mental illness;
an additional $6 million for the Provincial Homelessness Initiatives Fund;
the reallocation of $2.5 million over the next three years from expiring rent
supplement contracts to help house between 300 and 400 persons with special needs;
the transfer of $2.3 million in funding and administrative controls to municipalities
for the Community Partners Program to help them better serve people with special
needs in their communities; and,
encouraging municipalities to have rent paid directly from social assistance for
individuals who are vulnerable to losing their housing.
1507. Initiatives to address homelessness also included the following:
$10.39 million in Provincial Homelessness Initiatives funding provided to
47 municipalities to support local solutions to homelessness;
$1 million to help ex-offenders re-enter the community, including assistance in
finding permanent housing;
a rebate of up to $2,000 per rental unit to builders of affordable multi-unit housing to
mitigate the impact of the Provincial Sales Tax;
a commitment to create 500 affordable housing units by freeing up public land;
an additional $2 million to increase the maximum Community Start Up benefit paid
to eligible families to help them leave the hostel system.
1508. In total, over $100 million was committed by the government in addition to the $2 billion
that the province already spends each year to help those who are homeless or at risk of
becoming homeless.
Encouragement of “informal sector” housing providers
1509. The Ontario Government has adopted some measures designed to encourage enabling
strategies whereby local community-based organizations and the informal sector can
build housing and related services. Two such organizations are Frontiers Foundation Inc.
and the Community Partners Program.
1510. Frontiers Foundation Inc. builds affordable housing for native persons using volunteer
labour. Frontiers Foundation was funded by Ontario till April 1996. Funding was reestablished in July 2000 in the amount of $900,000. The funding is for the purpose of
building permanent housing for Aboriginals. The private sector and other provinces and
territories also contribute funds.
1511. The Community Partners Program has been funded and run by Ontario during the
reporting period. The program utilizes volunteers to help low-income households find
affordable rental units in the private sector. The administration of the program was
recently devolved to municipalities but some $2,300,000 in funding continues to come
from the province.
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Measures to release under-utilized land
1512. Economic and technological change has led to the under-utilization of lands in the
industrial districts (“brownfields”) of a number of Ontario municipalities. The Ontario
government recognizes the potential economic, social, and environmental benefits in the
re-use of these lands. During the period 1994 to 1999, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs
and Housing conducted research and policy development on initiatives to assist
municipalities in identifying a range of potential finance, liability and approval tools
available to support planning and redevelopment activities and to highlight the benefits
that can be achieved when brownfield sites are redeveloped. The Federal Government
has also followed suit and introduced a program that provides relief to builders by
reducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to 4.5 percent.
Measures to encourage development of small and intermediate urban centres
1513. The Ontario government recognizes the importance of encouraging the development of
small and medium sized municipalities. During the period 1994 to 1999, the Ministry of
Municipal Affairs and Housing conducted research and policy development on a new
initiative, subsequently published in 2000, called “Municipal Economic Readiness”
which is designed to assist municipalities to:
identify the changing needs of business;
Assess individual planning and development systems; and
identify opportunities for improvement and for attracting new development.
1514. The Provincial Policy Statement, which provides policy direction on matters of provincial
interest in land use planning, states that urban and rural settlement areas will be the focus
of growth. As municipal planning decisions are made on the basis of this policy, the
development of efficient, economically sustainable settlement areas will be encouraged.
Urban renewal programs
1515. Much of Ontario’s public housing stock has been redeveloped and upgraded through
capital expenditures of an average of $100 million annually during the period from 1994
to 1999. Any tenants affected by major projects retained their tenure.
1516. In addition, many municipalities have engaged in their own downtown revitalization
projects. The tenure of any affected tenants is protected by the Tenant Protection Act
and, prior to June 17, 1998, would have been protected by the Landlord and Tenant Act.
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
1517. In 1998, in the Statistics Canada National Population Health Survey, 67.8 percent of
males and 63.6 percent of females (aged 12 and older) in Ontario surveyed considered
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their health to be very good or excellent. In the same survey, 9.0 percent of males rated
their health as fair or poor, compared to 10.1 percent of females in 2000-2001.
1518. Ontario’s Health System Performance Report reported data provided by Statistics
Canada, Canadian Vital Statistics. The following table summarizes that information with
respect to five selected causes of death.
Table 11
Selected causes of death
Males &
Colorectal cancer
Acute myocardial infarction
Cerebrovascular diseases
All stroke
Lung cancer
Prostate cancer
Acute myocardial infarction
All stroke
Colorectal cancer
Lung cancer
Female breast cancer
Acute myocardial infarction
Cerebrovascular diseases
All stroke
Lung cancer
Colorectal cancer
Cerebrovascular diseases
1519. In 1999, Ontario’s life expectancy for males was 76.8 years and 81.8 years for females
(Source: Statistics Canada, Vital Statistics).
1520. Data for 1999 from Statistics Canada shows Ontario as having an infant mortality rate of
4.6 per 1,000 live births versus the national average of 4.4. Infant mortality rates have
been consistently falling since 1979.
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1521. After increasing from 1990 to 1995, potential years of life lost (PYLL) due to colorectal
cancer and suicides have declined from 1995 to 1999. However, there has been an
increase for both from 1998 to 1999. From 1990 to 1999, PYLL due to lung cancer,
acute myocardian infarction, cerebrovascular diseases, strokes, and unintentional injuries
has declined for each cause of death respectively by 4.4 percent, 30.9 percent,
14.3 percent, 19 percent, and 9.8 percent.
Physical activity and health
1522. In the 1998-1999 Statistics Canada, National Population Health Survey, among those
Ontarians 12 and over who were applicable to answer the question and who answered it,
51.5 percent reported being physically inactive. The percent of males who reported being
physically inactive was 46.4 compared to 56.4 percent of females. Physical inactivity is
one of the largest and most serious health concerns facing Ontario. Physical inactivity is
associated with diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, site specific
cancers, back pain, osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, anxiety, depression and stress.
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, and the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation
have partnered to increase the number of Ontarians who are physically active.
Mental health morbidity
1523. In Ontario, the suicide rate for men was approximately 14.5 per 100,000 population,
averaged for the three years 1995 to 1997. For the same time period, the agestandardized suicide death rate for women was 4.2 per 100,000. In Ontario, in 1997 the
age-standardized suicide death rate for men was approximately 13.8 per 100,000
population. For the same time period, the age-standardized suicide death rate for women
was 3.8 per 100,000 (Source: Statistics Canada, Vital Statistics).
Access to sewage treatment
1524. As of September 30, 1999, approximately 80 percent of Ontarians had access to sewage
treatment facilities through communal plants. The remaining 20 percent had access to
individual systems such as septic tank systems and pit privies.
Infant immunization
1525. Ontario provides vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis and
Haemophilus influenzae disease free of charge for the immunization of infants. Measles,
mumps and rubella vaccines are also provided free of charge for administration after the
first birthday. Ontario also provides vaccines (such as the Hepatitis B vaccine) for the
immunization of infants who are in specific high risk groups.
Access to trained personnel by pregnant women
1526. Municipal Boards of Health are required under the Mandatory Health Programs and
Services Guidelines to provide the public with prenatal group session health education.
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Boards are also required to work with health professionals to enhance their knowledge
and skills about reproductive health. Work with community coalitions/networks is also
required to co-ordinate, develop and implement accessible services for all pregnant
Access of infants to trained personnel
1527. Trained personnel attend the delivery of almost all infants in the province.
Measures to improve children’s physical and mental health
1528. The Ministry of Community and Social Services funding for child and adolescent mental
health services has grown from $261.7 million in 1994-1995 to $263.7 million in 19981999. Four new initiatives are currently being implemented to improve access to services
and promote system change.
1529. In May 1999, the government announced new funding for a four-point plan to improve
access to children’s mental health services. The four initiatives include:
intensive child and family services;
mobile crisis response teams;
telepsychiatry access points, and standardized intake, assessment/outcome
instruments; and
a province wide information system
1530. The Government of Ontario funds the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program for
children prenatal to six years of age. Funding of $67 million annually provides prenatal
and universal screening at birth and universal postpartum follow-up within 48 hours by
public health nurses. Information and support for healthy child development is provided
at birth and throughout the early years with screening for children 18 months to 3 years.
Families requiring additional supports are offered home visiting and service coordination.
Measures to improve the physical and mental health situation of vulnerable and
disadvantaged groups
1531. In 1995 and 1996, Ontario enacted legislation to enhance the protection of adults who are
vulnerable due to mental incapacity. The Substitute Decisions Act and the Health Care
Consent Act introduced new rights and programs for adults with mental incapacity. A
program to investigate abuse and neglect of adults suffering from mental incapacity was
introduced together with changes which increased the effectiveness of adult guardianship
services, and expanded the right of individuals to plan in advance for the possibility of
future incapacity.
1532. For the period October 1, 1994 to September 30, 1999, the Ministry of Health and Long
Term Care allocated $205 million in new funding for mental health. These funds were
used to create 962 housing units as part of the Mental Health Homelessness Initiative,
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145 new mental health beds (28 children’s beds, 109 forensic beds, and eight acute beds).
Community mental health was also enhanced with the allocation of $89.5 million to
expand 24-hour community care provided to people with mental illness through services
such as 60 Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACTTs), enhanced crisis response
and case management services across the province. An additional $52.3 million was
allocated for the introduction of three anti-psychotic drugs to the Ontario Drug
1533. In September 1999, the Ontario government announced the first comprehensive, multifaceted provincial strategy in Canada on Alzheimer Disease. The strategy comprises a
10-point action plan to improve the quality of life for people with dementia, provide
support to the families providing care to them, train health care providers and expand
services. The government is investing up to $68.4 million over five years in this
comprehensive, multi-faceted strategy.
1534. In March 1999, the Minister of Long-Term Care with responsibility for Seniors
announced the development of Ontario’s Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse, a
comprehensive, multifaceted plan to prevent elder abuse and help abused seniors or those
at risk of abuse. The Strategy includes initiatives to address three priority areas:
Co-ordinating services at the community level;
Training front line staff who relate to seniors on a daily basis; and
Raising public awareness and sensitivity to the problem of elder abuse.
Infant mortality
1535. Objectives under the Mandatory Health Programs and Services Guidelines, Reproductive
Health Section, include reducing the low birth weight rate (under 2,500 g) to 4 percent by
the year 2010 and decreasing the prevalence of Neural Tube Defects by 25 percent by the
year 2010.
Environmental and industrial hygiene
1536. Measures to improve environmental and industrial hygiene include:
publication of the Guideline for Use at Contaminated Sites, which provides clear
approaches to site assessment and cleanup of (historically) contaminated sites;
revision of hazardous waste regulations to better manage the safe disposal of
hazardous wastes;
release of new landfill standards on the design, operation and closure of new or
expanding non-hazardous waste landfills;
introduction of mandatory emissions testing for light duty vehicles. The program is
expected to reduce smog-causing pollutants from vehicles in the southern Ontario
program area by 22 percent over the course of the program. More than five million
vehicles will be covered by the program;
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acceleration of the development of human health and environmental standards for
various environmental media (air, drinking water, surface waste, sediments, biota);
introduction of an interim standard for particulate matter, a key component of smog;
review of mining regulations to ensure lands are returned to a natural state after
completion of exploration and mining activities;
$27 million commitment to the Abandoned Mines and Rehabilitation Program to
clean-up physical and environmental hazards on many abandoned mine sites across
Ontario, restoring the sites to productive uses;
Canada-Ontario Memorandum of Agreement on decommissioning and long-term
maintenance of uranium mine and mill tailings in Ontario. Under the agreement, the
two governments will share costs of decommissioning and long-term maintenance of
mines in the event that a producer or property owner is unable to pay;
development of a process of watershed management to ensure that the decisions and
activities of institutional infrastructure are made within an enhanced ecological
implementation of a successful program to reduce emission from four major Ontario
sources of sulphur dioxide and meeting targets set by the Canada/U.S. Air Quality
Agreement for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from each electric utility
unit greater than 25 million;
development of regulations to prohibit or control ozone-depleting substances;
involvement of Ontario residents in environmental decision-making through the
Environmental Bill of Rights in 1994. This Act provides for:
a process for public participation in environmentally significant decisions made
by the government;
increased access to the courts by members of the public for the protection of the
enhanced protection for employees who took action with respect to environmental
harm; and
increased accountability for environmental decision-making.
1537. During the reporting period, Ontario launched the four-year, $90 million Healthy Futures
for Ontario Agriculture program to enhance the quality and safety of the food supply, to
safeguard rural water quality and quantity and to increase access to domestic and global
markets. As of November 1, 2000, 19 projects worth $47.9 million have been approved,
with a provincial contribution of $7.1 million.
1538. Ontario is developing the Ontario Small Town and Rural Initiative (OSTAR) to help rural
and small urban municipalities invest in priority infrastructure such as water, wastewater
and flood control management facilities. It will target more support to municipalities that
lack the ability to pay for such projects. OSTAR will provide over $600 million over the
next five years to help small municipalities to finance projects that the municipalities
have identified as being a priority.
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Article 13: Right to Education
Access to primary education
1539. During the 1998-1999 academic year, there were a total of 1,413,786 students enrolled in
3,948 elementary schools; 51.33 percent of students were male and 48.3 percent were
Secondary education
1540. During the 1998-1999 academic year, there were a total of 697,836 students enrolled in
809 secondary schools; 51.4 percent were male and 48.6 percent were female. Of this
total, 6.37 percent were 19 years of age or older.
1541. In 1998-1999, long distance education was provided through the Independent Learning
Centre to 27,969 students who wished to earn secondary school diploma credits, upgrade
basic skills, or study for personal development. Of the secondary school level students
enrolled with the Independent Learning Centre, 40.6 percent were male and 59.4 percent
were female, and ranged in age from 15 years to over 65. Each enrolment is subject to a
nominal fee, which is refunded upon completion of the course requirements.
1542. The Independent Learning Centre administers the General Education Development
(GED) testing program for Ontario. Upon successful completion of a series of five tests,
candidates are awarded a High School equivalency certificate that is recognized by most
employers and many post-secondary institutions.
Adult education
1543. Courses for adults in basic literacy and numeracy are offered by school boards, colleges
of applied arts and technology, and community organizations. In the 1998-1999 fiscal
year, approximately 60,000 learners were enrolled in such courses. Literacy programs
have also been developed to meet the needs of Francophone, Aboriginal and deaf learners
in Ontario.
1544. Ontario’s welfare-to-work program, Ontario Works will provide basic literacy and
numeracy training for any welfare recipient who can’t pass a basic language and
mathematics test. Where required this training will be mandatory for all non-learning
disabled Ontario Works recipients to help ensure they are job-ready.
Human rights
1545. In 1995, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released Teaching Human Rights in
Ontario, an educational resource for high school and English-as-a-second-language
students. It addresses human rights, the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights. In 1999-2000, the Commission also worked on the
development of a companion teaching resource on Human Rights and Disabilities.
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Realizing the right to education
1546. In September 1999, Ontario introduced a new four-year secondary curriculum program to
replace the previous five-year program. It consists of courses designed to prepare
students for a variety of postsecondary destinations. No meaningful data will be
available on the distribution of Aboriginal and racial and ethnocultural minority students
in these new courses for several years.
1547. In the academic year 1993-1994, the Ontario government passed legislation requiring all
school boards to develop antiracism and ethnocultural equity policies. The legislation
was meant to address the removal of existing systemic biases and barriers adversely
affecting the achievement of Aboriginal, racial and ethnocultural minority students.
These board policies were in effect in Ontario during the reporting period with the
exception of those components relating to mandatory employment equity policies. The
responsibility for the on-going monitoring of these policies rested with district school
boards/school authorities and their local communities.
1548. During the reporting period, a major curriculum reform was implemented, with a
complete rewriting of all curriculum-related documents from kindergarten through
Grade 12. A statement on policy relating to Anti-discrimination Education is included in
Ontario Secondary Schools, Grades 9-12: Program and Diploma Requirements, 1999
which sets out the policies and requirements that govern the program in English-language
secondary schools. Curriculum expectations relating to antidiscrimination education,
violence prevention, and perspectives of Aboriginal peoples have been integrated into the
new secondary curriculum. These expectations include knowledge and skills relating to
conflict resolution, responsible citizenship, and civil and human rights. In addition, there
is a Grade 10 Civics course, which is a mandatory secondary school graduation
1549. The Ministry of Education does not collect data on school dropout rates. In 1998-99, the
high school graduation rate (as a percentage of the 18-year old population) was
77.6 percent.
1550. In 1989, according to the survey of Literacy Skills Used in Daily Activities, 38 percent of
the adult population in Ontario did not have adequate literacy skills. The 1994
International Literacy Survey (IALS) reported that 20 percent of the adult population in
Ontario do not have basic literacy skills and further 24 percent need literacy upgrading.
1551. In 1998-1999, approximately 60,000 persons were enrolled in adult literacy programs
supported by the Ontario government’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
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Table 12: Literacy Results for 1998-1999
Number of Learners
1552. Total funding in 1998-1999 was $55.3 million.
State financial information for education
1553. In 1998-1999, Ontario allocated $13.1 billion for elementary and secondary education.
More than 2.1 million learners were being taught by over 116,000 teachers at
3,948 elementary and 809 secondary schools across the province. Provincial government
support for the 1998-1999 school year was just over $7 billion, of which $340 million
was allocated for pupil accommodation needs, including the operation, maintenance and
construction of schools. Almost $6 billion in education property taxes was used to
support elementary and secondary education.
1554. There are four publicly funded school systems in Ontario: English public or nondenominational; English Catholic or separate; French public and French Catholic. At the
local level, the system is operated by 72 district school boards accountable to the public
through elected trustees, 31 school authorities, and six hospital authorities.
1555. In a decision rendered on November 5, 1999, the United Nations Human Rights
Committee (UNHRC) took the position that Ontario’s system of funding Roman Catholic
separate schools, and not other religious denominations or faiths, violates Article 26 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. However, Ontario continues to
uphold its constitutional obligations by providing full funding to public and separate
1556. Scheduling of the school calendar is the responsibility of district school boards, but
provincial regulations stipulate that the school year must consist of a minimum of
190 instructional days. The length of the instructional program of each school day for
students of compulsory school age is not less than five hours.
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1557. In addition to publicly funded post-secondary institutions, there are private postsecondary education and training institutions, including private vocational schools.
Access to education
1558. Table 13 represents a gender breakdown of enrolment in Ontario educational institutions
during the years 1997-1999. Percentages reflect proportion of total full time equivalent
student enrolment.
Table 13
(% of enrolment) (% of enrolment)
Colleges of Applied Arts & Technology
Elementary Schools
Secondary Schools
Distance Learning
Vulnerable groups
1559. A Foundation Grant provides for costs associated with the basic requirements of all
students. A series of special purpose grants address individual and board specific needs
such as special education, second-language education, additional costs faced by district
school boards covering large rural or isolated geographic areas, and additional costs due
to the social and economic situation in a board’s jurisdiction.
1560. Under The Education Act, it is the responsibility of the district school boards to provide
the supports for all their exceptional students, as outlined in the students’ individual
education plans. In 1998-1999, Ontario increased the boards’ Special Education Grant to
nearly $1.2 billion, in acknowledgement of additional costs associated with educating
special needs students. In addition, Ontario “enveloped” its special education allocation
to ensure that district school boards use this funding exclusively for special needs
students. Any funding that is not used for this purpose must be placed in a special
education reserve fund for future use.
1561. Every district school board receives a Language Grant, based on its particular need for
language instruction. This grant is used by the boards to provide English as a second
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language (ESL) or French as a second language (FSL) assistance for children who are
new to Canada, or whose first language spoken at home is not English or French. In
1998-1999, district school boards provided 21,855 children and 14,666 adults (both on an
average daily enrolment basis) with ESL or FSL language instruction.
1562. In 1998-1999, a Geographic Allocation Grant of nearly $149 million provided funding
for small schools and remote and rural boards, in recognition of the higher costs of
operating in vast, sparsely populated areas.
1563. Research has shown that certain social and economic indicators are associated with the
risk of academic difficulties. Specific risk factors include: low parental income; low
parental education; Aboriginal status; or recent immigration status. Ontario’s Learning
Opportunities Grant of almost $185 million in 1998-1999 permitted district school boards
to offer a range of locally determined programs to improve the educational achievement
of students at risk.
1564. In 1998, 38,000 adult ESL learners were enrolled in provincially funded English as a
second language/French as a second language programs.
1565. At the post-secondary level, colleges of applied arts and technology and public
universities receive an Accessibility Fund to help them provide support services to
accommodate students with disabilities. In 1999-2000, the colleges received
$7.748 million and universities $5.752 million for this purpose.
Action to promote equal access to education
1566. In addition to requiring district school boards and school authorities to have mandatory
antiracism and ethnocultural equity policies, Ontario established an Aboriginal Education
and Training Strategy to increase the number of Aboriginal students attending and
graduating from Ontario’s colleges and universities. The strategy is to reduce the barriers
that restrict Aboriginal student access to postsecondary institutions, including initiatives
with respect to admissions, access programs, and Native teacher education programs. In
addition, this strategy will increase Aboriginal community involvement in institutional
governance, program development, and admissions processes.
1567. To improve access to education for Aboriginal people, the Ministry of Education in
partnership with the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres and the district
school board, established an Alternative secondary school in each of three Friendship
Centres. These alternative schools were established to address the high dropout rate of
Aboriginal students by providing an appropriate environment that would encourage them
to complete their secondary school.
1568. Ontario provides annually over $7 million in funding for Aboriginal postsecondary
initiatives at colleges, universities and Aboriginal postsecondary institutions. The
Aboriginal Education and Training Strategy (AETS) provides $6 million annually to
increase Aboriginal participation and completion rates in universities and colleges;
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increase sensitivity to Aboriginal cultures; and to increase the participation of Aboriginal
peoples in decisions affecting Aboriginal postsecondary education.
1569. The balance of funding is used to support the fixed-wing flight program at First Nations
Technical Institute and for teacher education and nursing programs for Aboriginal
peoples at various universities.
1570. Implementation of a system of Prior Learning Assessment began in Ontario colleges so
that credits could be awarded for past learning and life experiences.
Language facilities
1571. In Ontario, the two official languages of Canada, English and French, are instructional
languages. While the majority of school boards are English speaking, there are now
112 French-speaking school boards in the province. The Education Act provides that
every pupil with rights under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
has the right to receive elementary and secondary instruction in French.
1572. The province also allocates funding to school boards for international language programs
and Native language programs.
Private schools
1573. In 1998-1999, there were 704 private elementary and secondary schools in Ontario with a
total enrolment of 90,534 students, just over 4 percent of all elementary and secondary
students in the province. Private schools are independently operated and do not receive
funding from the province or municipalities. Private schools are required to file a
“Notice of Intention to Operate,” and those offering a secondary school diploma are
inspected by the Ministry of Education to ensure that courses offered meet Ministry
1574. At the post-secondary level, there are approximately 310 private vocational schools. As
well, 17 privately funded schools have been granted restricted degree-granting authority.
Other private post-secondary education and training institutions that do not require
registration by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities operate in Ontario.
Article 15: Right to Participate in Cultural Life and Benefit from
Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
Language discrimination
1575. In 1996, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released the Policy on Discrimination
and Language. Although language is not a prohibited ground of discrimination, there is
a link between language or accent and ancestry, ethnic origin or place of origin.
Therefore, the Commission accepts complaints on the latter grounds where language
appears to be a factor.
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Aboriginal peoples’ access to the Human Rights Commission
1576. In 1999, the Ontario Human Rights Commission initiated a special program for
Aboriginal persons in order to enhance awareness of human rights protections and to
develop culturally sensitive mechanisms to improve access to the human rights process in
Tax credits to encourage investment and create jobs in Ontario’s cultural
1577. The Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit was introduced in 1996 for domestic
producers. Features include a 20 percent refundable credit for eligible labour
expenditures capped at 48 percent of the production budget in eligible productions
(75 percent of production expenditures must be spent in Ontario and the project must be
controlled by a Canadian-owned production company).
1578. The Ontario Book Publishers Tax Credit, which became operational in 1998, is a
refundable tax credit for qualifying publishers of first-time Canadian authors (in five
genres). At maturity, the credit is estimated to be worth $5 million.
1579. The Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit, introduced in 1997, is
for both domestic and foreign producers. Features include a refundable tax credit of
20 percent on qualifying labour expenditures capped at 48 percent of production budget
for digital animation and digital visual effects, available to firms with a permanent
establishment in Ontario.
1580. The Ontario Production Services Tax Credit, introduced in 1997, is primarily for foreignbased producers, although domestic producers can also apply. Features include an
11 percent refundable tax credit on qualifying labour expenditures for eligible production
companies undertaking film or television productions in Ontario.
1581. The Ontario Sound Recording Tax Credit, introduced in 1998, is for small domestic
recording companies. The credit is a 20 percent rebate on eligible production and
marketing expenses to small Ontario-based recording companies recording new and
emerging Canadian artists. All Ontario marketing and production costs are eligible;
Ontario will also rebate 20 percent of 50 percent of marketing costs outside Ontario. At
maturity, the credit is estimated to be worth $5 million annually.
1582. The Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit, introduced in 1998, is for small
domestic interactive digital media producers. The credit provides a 20 percent refundable
credit on wages and salaries for original interactive works and a 20 percent rebate on
50 percent of freelance labour costs. At maturity, the credit is estimated to be worth
$7 million annually.
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Heritage programs
1583. For this reporting period, through its operational grant program, Ontario earmarked
$5.3 million to provide operational funding for Provincial Heritage Organizations,
$15 million to provide operational funding for Community Museums, and $1.06 million
to support the operations of local heritage organizations. The province provided
$10.5 million in operational funds to the Ontario Heritage Foundation and a further
$0.8 million in capital funds for designated property grants, and $1.6 million for culture
capital grants.
1584. In May 1999, the province announced a $10 million Heritage Challenge Fund. The Fund
provided monies on a matching basis for capital work on recognized heritage properties
in public or non-profit ownership.
1585. In May 1999, the province announced a temporary (May 1999-December 2000) Heritage
Sales Tax Rebate Program. This initiative provided a rebate of the 8 percent provincial
retail sales tax on the purchase of materials used in the conservation of recognized
heritage properties.
Other measures
1586. Community-based organizations that received grants in delivering services and programs
to newcomers include:
The Cultural Interpreter Services Program assists newcomers, particularly those who
are victims of wife assault, to gain access to appropriate services.
The Recreation Development Fund provides funds to local government and other
community recreation organizations for the provision of recreation opportunities to
Ontarians. First Nations Communities and Aboriginal Friendship Centres receive
preferential treatment, receiving up to 80 percent, rather than the standard 50 percent
maximum, funding for eligible costs.
The Games Program provides yearly project funding to the sport organizations for
people with a disability to help provide ongoing sport opportunities, and also supports
the annual Ontario Games for the Physically Disabled.
Ontario Senior Games, a provincial championship for Ontario men and women
55 years of age and older, are held in the summer, every two years. In 2000, the first
winter games for seniors, Winterfest, was held, with government support. Plans are
in place for another Winterfest to be held in 2003.
1587. In order to support quality delivery of literacy and basic skills training, the Ministry of
Training, Colleges and Universities provides funding to AlphaPlus, Ningwakwe Learning
Centre to develop, produce and disseminate literacy materials and share best practices
amongst Aboriginal, Deaf and Francophone serving delivery agencies.
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1588. The Government of Québec undertook to abide by the provisions of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by adopting Order in Council
No. 1438-76 on April 21, 1976. The provisions of the Covenant have been implemented
in Québec within a context of reductions in federal transfer payments during the 1990s.
Article 2: Rights Specifically Subject to Non-Discrimination
1589. The Government of Québec contributed to the reports by Canada to the International
Labour Organization in respect of Convention No. 111 concerning Discrimination
(Employment and Occupation), which was ratified by Canada in 1964. The report filed
in August 2001 covers the period from July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2001.
1590. The purpose of the Pay Equity Act, which was enacted in November 1996, is to redress
differences in compensation due to the systemic gender discrimination suffered by
persons who occupy positions in predominantly female job classes. It is one of the most
progressive laws that exist to guarantee equal pay for work of equal value, in that it
applies to both the private sector and the public sector. It requires any employer whose
enterprise employs 50 or more employees to establish a pay equity plan, and any
employer whose enterprise employs 10 or more but fewer than 50 employees to
determine the adjustments in compensation required to afford the same remuneration, for
work of equal value, to employees holding positions in predominantly female job classes
as to employees holding positions in predominantly male job classes. An employer
whose undertaking employs 100 or more employees must also allow employees to
participate in establishing the plan.
1591. The Government of Québec, in a Parliamentary Commission, examined the positions of a
variety of stakeholders with the aim of combatting wage disparities based solely on the
employee’s date of hiring. The purpose of the Act to amend the Act respecting labour
standards as regards differences in treatment (S.Q., 1999, c. 85) is to prohibit in an
individual contract of employment, in a collective agreement under the Labour Code, in
any other agreement relating to conditions of employment, including a Government
regulation giving effect to it, or in a collective agreement decree, provisions which
effectively grant an employee covered by a labour standard under the Act respecting
labour standards or a regulation issued under it, a condition of employment less
advantageous than that which is applicable to other employees performing the same tasks
in the same establishment, when the difference is based solely on the date of hiring.
1592. Section 137 of the Québec Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Québec Charter), which
had permitted certain distinctions in pension plans, retirement plans, benefit plans and life
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insurance plans, was repealed on June 13, 1996 (S.Q. 1996, c.10). Under the new section
20.1, distinctions based on age, sex or civil status that could be discriminatory may be
justified where the use of those distinctions is warranted in the type of plan in question
and the basis for using them is a risk determination factor based on actuarial. The
Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse has said that it is
pleased to see the former provisions eliminated.
1593. The Québec Charter assigns responsibility to the Commission des droits de la personne et
des droits de la jeunesse (the Commission) for receive complaints of discrimination and
harassment, and to investigate complaints.
1594. The Commission examined 3,246 complaints of discrimination in employment between
the beginning of 1995 and the end of 1999. Sex, handicap, race, colour or ethnic or
national origin, and age, are the grounds of discrimination most often cited in those
complaints. The most common incidents of discrimination occur in relation to dismissal,
hiring and working conditions. In the same period, 631 cases were closed in the course
of the investigation as a result of a settlement between the parties. Settlements may take
the form of monetary compensation or agreement to cease the act complained of perform
another act. The Commission initiated 123 legal proceedings in relation to employment
between the beginning of 1995 and the end of 1999.
1595. The decision of the Court of Appeal in Commission des écoles catholiques de Québec v.
Gobeil and Syndicat du personnel de l’enseignement du Nord de la Capitale v. Morin,
[1999] R.J.Q. 1883, established that a rule whose effect is to deny pregnant women the
right to be hired where they would otherwise have had access to the employment
necessarily violates the right to full equality. In that case, the availability requirement
creates a discriminatory distinction based on the fact that childbirth and maternity leave
prevent women from securing the contracts to which they would have been entitled.
1596. Protection from harassment is separate from the protection against discrimination. The
courts have defined sexual harassment as unsolicited and repeated acts, or a single act
where it is particularly grave and serious that it produces effects that continue into the
future (see Habachi v. Commission des droits de la personne, [1999] R.J.Q. 2522 (C.A.)).
1597. The Commission examined 512 complaints of discrimination in housing between the
beginning of 1995 and the end of 1999. The grounds of discrimination most frequently
cited in those complaints are social condition, followed by race, colour and ethnic or
national origin. During the same period, 75 cases were closed in the course of the
investigation, after the parties reached a settlement.
1598. A number of cases that the Commission brought before the courts continued to contribute
to advancing the right to equality in access to housing. In Desroches, [1997] R.J.Q.
1540, the Court of Appeal confirmed that refusing to rent housing on the ground that
there were more than two persons constitutes a form of age-based discrimination against
children. In Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse v. Sinatra,
JE 99-2197, the complainant, a freelance with insecure work, had been discriminated
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against on the ground of social condition. The Court referred to the Covenant in respect
of the right to adequate housing. In Whittom v. Commission des droits de la personne et
des droits de la jeunesse, [1997] R.J.Q. 1823 (C.A), the Court of Appeal held that refusal
to rent an apartment to any last-resort assistance recipient, or any person whose income
was equivalent or lower, regardless of those persons’ actual ability to pay the rent
charged, is discrimination based on social condition.
1599. The Commission published a study in 1997 identifying and describing the factors that
create systemic discrimination against low-income individuals in respect of access to
housing. There are a number of factors at work here in addition to the direct
discrimination against low-income households. Some of the tools used for selecting
tenants (rental application forms, credit investigations, requiring for co-signers, defining
a maximum percentage of income to be spent on housing) may discriminate against
those households in their effect. As well, the structure of the private housing market does
not reflect the needs of disadvantaged groups. Evidence of this fact is the development of
“high-end” units during the 1980s. The Commission has made various recommendations
to both landlords and the government. It has reminded landlords of their obligation to
provide housing without discrimination to everyone who can demonstrate that he or she
is capable of meeting the obligations that are incurred when a lease is signed, without
applying prejudices with respect to the amount or source of their income or the
proportion of their income that the rent represents. It has proposed that the government,
among other things, encourage and support the implementation of initiatives that would
result in faster growth of affordable, decent housing stock, for example by creating an
inventory of units comprised of properties seized by financial institutions in recent years.
The various assistance programs created by the Société d'habitation du Québec, which are
described under article 11 of this report, are meant to achieve this objective among other
1600. The Commission issued an opinion concerning the possibility of a community
organization active in the mental health field denying services to people living with HIVAIDS, to protect people who are not infected with the virus. The Commission is of the
opinion that this kind of exclusion may be discrimination on the basis of handicap.
Scientific research shows that the risk of HIV-AIDS transmission cannot be directly
linked to the services offered by these organizations. Moreover, there is also nothing to
stop them from doing preventive work, for example by informing users of their services
about measures they should take to avoid contracting HIV-AIDS, and making their staff,
including both volunteers and employees, aware of the precautions to be taken in certain
specific situations.
1601. In Commission des droits de la personne et G.(G.), [1995] R.J.Q. 1601 and Hamel v.
Malaxos, [1994] R.J.Q. 173 (C.Q), the Human Rights Tribunal of Québec and the Court
of Québec concluded that a dentist may not refuse to treat a person, or automatically refer
that person to the dental clinic or hospital, solely because the person is HIV positive or
has AIDS. They based their decision on the finding that HIV is a handicap within the
meaning of the Québec Charter and that dentists have a duty to use protective measures
that enable them to treat persons who carry the virus.
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Article 3: Equal Rights of Women and Men
1602. Québec guarantees women’s right to equality, primarily in two legal instruments: the
Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (R.S.Q. c. C-12) and the Civil Code of Québec
(S.Q. 1991, c. 64). The Code came into force on January 1, 1994. It reiterates the
principle of the legal equality of the spouses in the marriage, which was adopted in 1980.
1603. In the period covered, the Government of Québec enacted or amended nearly 60 statutes
that have an impact on women’s rights, and in particular the Pay Equity Act, discussed
under article 2.
1604. The policy on the status of women, which was adopted in 1993, is another instrument that
promotes women’s equality. It is implemented through three-year action plans entitled
“Equality for All Québec Women.”
Article 6: Right to Work
1605. Labour market conditions improved during the period covered, and prospects are now
encouraging. The progress made by women aged 25 to 54 on the labour market
continued throughout the 1990s, but at a slower pace than was the case earlier. The
proportions of women in the labour force and in employment in 1999 are at their highest
points ever (76 percent and 70 percent, respectively), and their unemployment rate,
9 percent, is the lowest since 1976.
1606. Significant numbers of jobs have been created, and the employment rate for persons
aged 15 to 64 rose from 62 percent in 1993 to 66 percent in 1999. During the same
period, the unemployment rate fell from 13 percent to under 9 percent. In 1998, length of
time unemployment dropped, a majority of new jobs were in full-time employment, and
half of the jobs created went to young people.
1607. The unemployment rate among young people aged 20 to 24 improved, falling to
13.8 percent in 1998, while the rate for people aged 25 to 29, 10.3 percent, was virtually
identical to the overall unemployment rate (10.4 percent).
1608. The incidence of long-term unemployment (more than a year) is highest among older
workers; in 1998, it was 21.4 percent among men aged 55 and over, and 17.7 percent
among women in the same age group. Nonetheless, the situation for older workers seems
to have stabilized in relation to previous years, and this might be explained by higher
education levels as compared to earlier generations.
1609. The intensive examination of labour force development, access to the labour market,
income support, and public employment services as a whole that was initiated by the
Government of Québec in the first half of the 1990s continued over the second half of
that decade. In 1996, the government called on its partners in the trade unions,
management and the community to mobilize around the Summit on the Economy and
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Employment and its broad objectives, relating to cutting the deficit and creating jobs. A
number of reforms and policies were proposed in the wake of that event. They included
educational reform, income security reform, the creation of the Fund to combat poverty
through reintegration into the labour market, the policy to support local and regional
development, realization of the potential of the social economy, the establishment of local
development centres and local employment centres, the creation of the ministère de la
Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie and measures to support research, the
economic strategy entitled Québec: objectif emploi, etc. The purpose of the adoption of
that strategy in 1998 was of course to create a more competitive economy in Québec, but
also one focussed more on human values, solidarity and concern for sustainable growth.
We would also note the measures taken to promote investment and expansion in
industrial sectors in which Québec already excels, such as aeronautics,
telecommunications, computer technology, the pharmaceutical industry and hydroelectric energy, and the creation, in 1994, of the Aboriginal Development Fund,
consisting of $125 million over five years, to support First Nations economic projects and
community projects. In addition, to ensure that the work would be more productive, a
policy to lighten the regulatory burden was implemented.
1610. Between 1997 and 1999, the Canada-Québec Labour Market Agreement was negotiated
and signed. Under that Agreement, Québec is responsible, within the province, for job
placement services and the active employment measures including orientation and job
training. Under the Act respecting the ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité and
establishing the Commission des partenaires sur le marché du travail, in 1998, the
creation of Emploi-Québec allowed for new public employment services to be
established, incorporating the resources of three federal or provincial bodies that had
been separate up until then. The objectives underlying this major reform were
simplification, decompartmentalization and efficiency. It resulted in a spectrum of
assistance programs for individuals and employers in relation to the labour force and
employment being brought together under one roof, based on priorities and strategies
developed with the active participation of local, regional and national labour market
partners (employers, unions and the community). This public services infrastructure is
available throughout Québec, and for all workers, regardless of the individual’s status
(unemployed, working, employment insurance claimant or income support recipient, not
receiving public support, etc.). The number of programs have been reduced from about a
hundred to about a dozen. Public employment services are now organized around five
major focuses:
labour force improvement, by making preparation for employment and rapid access to
employment, orientation and job training available;
support for integration into employment, particularly for persons who have
employment constraints;
maintaining employment and keeping people on the job by providing support for
businesses and the labour force;
stabilization of seasonal, part-time or precarious employment by continuing to extent
the length of the period of work;
financial, technical or other support for job-creation initiatives.
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1611. The Act respecting income support, employment assistance and social solidarity was
enacted on June 19, 1998, and came into force on October 1, 1999. The Act will be
discussed in more detail under article 9.
1612. In relation to businesses, the government adopted the Act to foster the development of
manpower training in 1995. That Act, which was implemented gradually, based on
business size, required that employers with total payrolls over $250,000 spend 1 percent
of their payroll annually on employee training. Businesses that do not invest the
mandatory minimum must pay the difference into a special fund established for that
purpose, the Fonds national de formation de la main-d'Éuvre. A plan for the allocation
of those resources is prepared by the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail
and submitted to the Minister responsible, for approval.
1613. Vocational training in Québec is a function of secondary education, and technical training
is a function of college education. Vocational and technical training is offered in more
than 300 programs involving 21 training areas.
1614. The ministère de l’Éducation du Québec guides and supports the development of
vocational and technical training, through integrated management of the curricula. Its
activities involve the academic, physical and material organization of the instruction
offered, curriculum development, the issuance of diplomas and the funding of equipment.
1615. Vocational training is offered in 173 public schools, under 70 school boards (out of a
total of 72), administered by school board members who are elected for a particular
geographical area and are responsible for public pre-school, primary and secondary
instruction. There are also 23 private institutions and two institutions outside the system
that provide vocational training.
1616. Vocational training in secondary school leads to a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS)
for skilled trades, Attestation of Vocational Specialization for holders of a DVS who have
vocational experience, and Attestation of Vocational Training for semi-skilled trades.
1617. Technical training is provided in 48 general and vocational colleges (CÉGEPs), in
24 private colleges, and in a dozen institutions outside the system. CÉGEPs are
administered by boards of directors, whose members are appointed by the government
after consultation with interested groups. In addition to two-year programs of preuniversity instruction, CÉGEPs offer three-year technical instruction programs leading to
a Technical Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS) and to jobs as technicians. As a rule, the
time required to obtain a Technical Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS) is three years,
but few students complete it in that time. A high proportion of students receive their
Technical DCS within five years after beginning their studies.
1618. The measures that have been taken to improve vocational and technical education since
1994 include:
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Gradual revision of technical education curricula to make them more adapted to the
context of a constantly changing labour market. Among other things, the needs for
multi-skilling and the acquisition of specialized knowledge, and for information and
communication technologies, are taken into account;
Development of new programs for emerging industries, such as multimedia;
Implementation of measures to encourage students to continue their studies in high
tech, or leading to scientific careers;
Implementation of measures to reduce the drop-out rate and improve diploma
completion rates;
Publishing a yearly list of trades and occupations in which there are good job
Promoting non-traditional occupations for women.
1619. The success rate for full-time students in vocational education was 78.7 percent at the end
of 1996-1997, and 77.7 percent in 1997-1998.
Access to equality programs
1620. In December 1998, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse
(the Commission) published a quantitative review of the implementation of access to
equality programs in Québec. There are four different types of access to equality
programs, depending on the legal basis for the program.
1621. Voluntary programs are established at the initiative of businesses and institutions that
want to promote access to equality for certain groups (women, ethnic and visible
minorities, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities). Since 1986, 76 organizations
have agreed to try this experiment: 15 private firms, one trade union, 19 organizations in
the education sector, 10 in the health and social services sector, 18 in the post-secondary
and science education sector, and 13 municipal organizations.
1622. Programs may also be proposed by the Commission after an investigation is conducted,
and imposed by a court when the Commission’s proposal is not followed. Only one
program has been established in this way as a result of an out of court settlement.
1623. Access to equality programs in the public service are established under section 92 of the
Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Based on the available data, the Commission
finds that there has been notable progress in the numbers of women in permanent
positions in the public service, while the proportion of women in casual positions has not
grown significantly. The total for the other groups targeted by government programs
(cultural communities and persons with disabilities) has risen from 1092 to 1102, while
the number of persons with disabilities employed has risen 818 to 725 between 1992 and
1624. The contract compliance program provides that businesses with over 100 employees that
bid for contracts worth $100,000 or more, or that apply for subsidies in an equivalent
amount, must undertake to implement an access to equality program if the contract or
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subsidy is awarded. A company that does not fulfil its commitments may be prohibited
from bidding or applying for subsidies. At December 31, 1997, 169 businesses had
undertaken to implement access to equality programs, representing 11 percent of
businesses in the sectors in question in Québec with 100 or more employees.
1625. The recommendations made by the Commission in order to preserve the progress made
by access to equality programs include placing government programs under Commission
supervision, extending access to equality programs to include persons with disabilities,
visible minorities and Aboriginal people, and expanding the scope of the contract
compliance program.
Situation of women
Business start-up
1626. Despite the progress that women have made in recent years, there are still some problems
on the labour market: labour market participation by women has flattened off, women
have a lower rate of employment than men, women are concentrated in a limited number
of occupational categories, job gains by women in the work force are lower than men’s,
etc. To remedy some of these imbalances, the Government of Québec supports the startup and consolidation of small and medium-sized businesses managed by women. It
facilitates women’s access to credit, supports the advancement of women in the sciences
and in technological innovation, and encourages women to enter non-traditional
Single-parent women heads of families
1627. Single-parent heads of families, who are almost exclusively women, face major barriers
when they want to enter the labour market. They now have access to a range of
incentives to obtain paid employment, whether it be income support or assistance with
labour market entry: earned income supplement, medication record, back to work
allowance, supplementary financial support for childcare for a pre-school child, training,
flexible admission rules for training measures offered by public employment services for
pregnant teenagers, etc. Taken together, these measures have proved to be a crucial
strategy to support efforts to assist women with dependent children to enter the work
Women’s economic autonomy
1628. In addition, one of the major focuses of Québec’s policy on the status of women, which
was introduced in 1993, is women’s economic autonomy. The 1997-2000 Action Plan,
Equality for All Québec Women, identifies three priorities: preventing pregnancy among
very young women and supporting teenaged mothers, supporting the advancement of
women in the sciences and technological innovation, and applying gender-differentiated
analysis in government practices.
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“Comité aviseur femmes”
1629. The ministère de la Solidarité sociale has committed itself to developing regional
expertise in respect of the living conditions of women who receive income support and
developing regional action plans in cooperation with the partners concerned. Since the
reorganization of public employment services in 1998, that clearly stated intention now
extends to all women who need employment assistance services. Emploi-Québec
established a women’s advisory committee in 1996, with the mandate of promoting and
supporting women in entering and remaining in the work force. The ministère de la
Solidarité sociale has also created a network of regional female respondents, to ensure
that the activities of local employment centres in relation to women in the work force
take account, in an equitable manner, of the realities that women face in relation to
Decision-making positions
1630. The program À égalité pour décider was launched in 1999. The purpose of the program
is to provide financial support for local and regional non-profit organizations to carry out
projects designed to increase the number of women in decision-making positions. It has
an annual budget of $1 million, for five years. The aims of the 33 projects that were
approved for the first year included providing training to strengthen women’s decisionmaking skills and to make the members of regional and local decision-making bodies
aware of the fact that women are under-represented on those bodies.
Education and training for women
1631. Although girls and women attend school longer, they are still concentrated in disciplines
that do not often lead to professions or to the occupations of the future. The ministère de
l’Éducation is giving this situation special attention, as are public employment services,
particularly in relation to providing information and academic and occupational guidance.
Women and non-traditional sectors
1632. Activities to generate interest among girls and women in sectors that do not traditionally
attract women, in terms of future-oriented sectors and, more specifically, science and
technology-oriented sectors, continued and intensified during the second half of the
Specific programs for women
1633. The creation of Emploi-Québec, and bringing active measures together in 1998, resulted
in the more traditional route of offering specific programs for narrow categories of the
population being abandoned in favour of an approach that is much more focussed on each
person’s needs and situation. Individualized integration, training and employment plans
were adopted, and policy implemented to make it possible to identify groups at risk of
long-term unemployment. The factors that place people at risk for longer periods of
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unemployment are associated with socio-economic characteristics, such as single
parenting, low education levels, etc. The individualized plans have enabled women to
benefit from the full range of support that is appropriate to their personal and family
situations. As well, Emploi-Québec provides financial support for community
organizations that offer services to women in the work force.
1634. Despite major gains made in access to education, the situation of women, both in respect
of choice of occupation and once they are in the labour market, is still largely dictated by
family responsibilities. That is the primary conclusion of a study conducted by the
Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse and published in 1995.
The objective of the study was to compare the education girls were receiving in
comparison to boys, at the secondary school, college and university levels, to identify the
factors that might result in inequality between the sexes in education and on the labour
market, and to identify measures to counteract any inequality found. The study showed,
among other things, that school attendance and diploma completion were higher among
girls, that the education received by boys and girls was still different, but that with
equivalent education, boys and girls did not have equal opportunities to enter the labour
market. The results of this study confirm the importance of measures to resolve the
conflicts between work and family obligations.
Situation of handicapped persons
1635. Specific actions have been taken to assist handicapped persons with job entry, designed
to provide them with concrete and practical methods of obtaining paid employment or
keeping their employment: preparation of hiring plans, awarding contracts for
occupational integration, financial support for adapted employment centres, financial
assistance for adapting workplaces, etc. As well, the network of local employment
centres makes regular use of the specialized services of community organizations whose
aim is to assist workers who have limitations on their abilities. Emploi-Québec provides
financial support for those community organizations.
1636. To address the social integration of handicapped persons and persons with mental
illnesses, the Plan d’action en santé mentale was adopted in 1998. It proposes that the
interventions undertaken be brought closer to where people live, by organizing health and
social services on a local basis and diversifying the services provided, with the aims, for
example, of providing treatment and on-going contact in the community, ensuring that
services are available at all times in the event of a crisis, developing personal skills,
assisting with job entry, encouraging peer assistance and providing support for families
and friends.
Situation of immigrants
1637. In 1995, in addition to the measures that had been instituted earlier to facilitate the
integration of immigrants, an action plan was implemented. Under that plan, labour
market entry services have been strengthened (employment counselling, labour market
information sessions), job referrals have been made both in urban centres and outside
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those centres, support has been provided for self-employment and entrepreneurship,
partnerships with non-profit organizations that support job entry have been cemented, and
more support has been provided for activities relating to skills recognition, retraining and
access to professions and various occupations.
Article 7: Right to Just and Favourable Working Conditions
1638. Québec has four labour law statutes designed to ensure fair and equitable working
conditions for all workers. Some of them establish a compensation system for victims of
work-related accidents and illnesses: the Pay Equity Act (R.S.Q., c. E-12.001), the Act
Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases (R.S.Q., c. A-3.001), the
Labour Standards Act (R.S.Q., c. N-1.1), and the Act respecting Occupational Health
and Safety (R.S.Q., c. S-2.1). Except for the Pay Equity Act, those statutes were enacted
before the period covered by this report.
1639. The Act to amend Act respecting labour standards as regards annual and parental leave
(S.Q., 1997, c. 10) and the Act respecting labour standards as regards the duration of a
regular work week (S.Q., 1997, c. 45) should be noted. The first statutory amendment
extended unpaid parental leave from 34 to 52 weeks, and allowed employees with
between one and five years of continuous service to request one week of unpaid leave, to
extend their annual leave to three weeks, when a birth occurs. Leave for family events
are dealt with in more detail under article 10. The second statutory amendment provided
for the gradual reduction of the duration of a regular work week from 44 to 40 hours, by
one hour per year on October 1 of each year from 1997 to 2000. The basic minimum
wage was set at $6.90 per hour at the end of the period covered.
1640. With respect to occupational safety and health, the enactment in June 1997 of the Act to
establish the Commission des lésions professionnelles and amending various legislative
provisions (S.Q., 1997, c.27) should be mentioned. The purpose of that Act is to reform
the entire process for challenging decisions made by the Commission de la santé et de la
sécurité au travail (CSST) after an administrative review. One of the things that the Act
changed was the process for doing the medical assessment of a worker who has suffered
an occupational injury.
1641. Under the 1997-2000 Action Plan, Equality for All Québec Women, the Commission de
la santé et de la sécurité au travail presented six projects designed to eliminate dangers to
women’s health and safety on the job. The projects primarily targeted childcare centres,
ambulance services, libraries and certain non-traditional occupations such as auto
bodywork, automobile mechanics and construction. To date, awareness activities have
been conducted with teachers in 1,200 early childhood centres and with workers in
various non-traditional sectors of employment.
1642. In 1997, following on the initiatives taken at the time of the Sommet sur l’économie et
l’emploi, a mechanism was established to assist in paying people who work in the home
care services sector: the employment-service cheque (CES). The purpose of the CES is
to simplify the job for handicapped persons who use home care services, to provide social
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protection for home care services workers, and to reduce the incidence of underground
employment in this sector. Because of the nature of the eligible home care services
(housekeeping, personal care, babysitting, etc.), a large number of women who are home
care now enjoy greater social protections, because employers who use the CES are
required to pay the employer’s Québec Pension Plan contributions and Employment
Insurance assessments.
1643. The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (la Commission)
has examined precarious employment and its impact on equal access to social protection.
Its study shows that the traditional criterion for the employer-employee relationship, or
relationship of subordination, is becoming increasingly difficult to apply as the
transformation of the organization of work continues, with the prevalence of selfemployment increasing. In this area, there are serious inequalities between categories of
self-employed workers. More specifically, the social protection available to
economically vulnerable categories of workers is extremely unreliable, in terms of the
risks associated with unemployment, maternity, and occupational illness and accident.
Possible solutions for the disparities observed in this respect have been suggested by the
Commission and proposed in a number of forums, including the Sommet du Québec et de
la jeunesse held in February 2000.
Article 8: Trade Union Rights
1644. In 1995, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (La
Commission) examined the representation scheme established by section 64 of the Public
Service Act (R.S.Q., c. F-3.1.1). That section provides that the Syndicat des
fonctionnaires provinciaux du Québec represents all public servants who are employees
within the meaning of the Labour Code. The general scheme established by the Public
Service Act does not allow for a bargaining unit that is determined by the legislature ex
officio to be split.
1645. It is the Commission’s opinion that this limitation is not an unlawful interference with
freedom of association. The Commission noted that section 9.1 of the Québec Charter
provides that limits to the exercise of freedom of association may be fixed by law, where
the limits are intended to promote respect for democratic values, public order and general
well-being. The Commission also noted that the prohibition on splitting bargaining units
in the public service was not contrary to the applicable international conventions.
Article 9: Right to Social Security
1646. In June 1998, the Government of Québec enacted the Act respecting income support,
employment assistance and social solidarity, to replace the Act respecting income
security. The statutory amendments made were designed to simplify the income support
system, make it more equitable, and align it with the reorganization of public
employment services in Québec. The Act defines the present assistance system, which is
based on the values of social solidarity, justice and equity. Its foundation lies in section
45 of the Québec Charter, which gives every person in need the right to measures of
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financial assistance provided for by law, susceptible to ensuring such person an
acceptable standard of living. The new Act has been in force since October 1, 2000.
1647. This has been an integrated process, at the end of which Québec policies regarding
employment and social solidarity were completely reorganized in order to remove major
barriers to employment, while at the same time reaffirming the solidarity of Québec
1648. Québec provides financial income support assistance to people with little or no means of
subsistence and those of their dependants who are not capable of providing for their own
needs. Assistance is provided both to persons who are able to work and to those who are
temporarily or permanently incapable of working. The basic financial assistance
provided depends on the family composition (adults and children). The essential needs
recognized are covered in full for persons who are permanently incapable of working.
Special benefits or additional assistance are also available in certain circumstances.
1649. In addition, the Government of Québec has instituted a range of employment assistance
measures and services to support people in their efforts to integrate socially and
occupationally: for example, training and support with job searches. Social assistance
recipients who participate in these measures receive a supplement to the basic financial
assistance provided. As well, the obligation to seek employment does not apply to adults
who are taking part in an employment assistance measure or another activity by
agreement with the Minister, for instance under an Individualized Integration, Training
and Employment Plan. The purpose of these Individualized Plans is to assist recipients,
and especially young persons and single-parent heads of family, to achieve long-term
integration into the labour market.
1650. At March 31, 1999, the Government of Québec was supporting 661,276 recipients in
410,554 households. Over $3.2 billion was spent on financial assistance measures in
1998-1999, representing 7.05 percent of Québec’s budget expenditures in that fiscal year.
1651. Benefits are paid for out of Québec’s Consolidated Revenue Fund. The federal
government contributes to the funding of the program under the Canada Health and
Social Transfer.
1652. A number of improvements came into effect in 1998-1999, representing about
$55 million in additional funding for financial assistance programs alone. They include:
an increase in the income from employment that recipients who are capable of
working are permitted to earn;
an increase in the amount of the exemption for the net value of a residence, from
$60,000 to $80,000;
an increase of $100 per month for single-parent families sharing a residence;
exempting the first $100 per month of support payments in calculating the benefit for
families with one or more children under the age of five;
the creation of a lump sum payment of $500 to persons who enter the labour market.
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1653. Benefits were increased in January 1999, at a cost of $18.8 million.
1654. After examining the Third Periodic Report of Canada, the Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights expressed its concern that Québec had adopted mandatory
employment programs. There are in fact no such mandatory employment programs.
Rather, recipients are asked to make reasonable efforts to recover their economic and
social autonomy. For that purpose, the Act respecting income support, employment
assistance and social solidarity provides that an adult who receives benefits must not,
without serious cause, refuse a suitable employment; otherwise, his or her benefit may be
reduced. There may be an administrative review of that decision, and it may be appealed
to the administrative tribunal. The Act also provides that an adult must make such efforts
as are appropriate in his or her circumstances to find suitable employment, as defined by
section 48 of the Act.
1655. Observations made, for example, by the OECD, to which Québec fully adheres, show
that the strategies that have the most chance of successfully combatting social and
economic exclusion of individuals who depend on income support are based on a
principle of reciprocity. That principle holds that the state must provide recipients with
allowances that enable them to meet their subsistence needs, but also encourage their
reintegration into the labour market.
1656. The Committee also expressed concern that in Québec the government has enacted
legislation providing for the payment of benefits directly to landlords, without recipients’
consent. While the Act does include a measure providing for payment of a portion of the
benefit to the lessor where the lessee is a recipient of a benefit and is in default in respect
of payment of rent, the government has not adopted the sections of the Regulation
respecting income support that would allow the provision of the Act in question to be
applied. The Government of Québec is still trying to find a solution to non-payment of
rent that will be satisfactory for both landlords and benefit recipients.
Article 10: Protection of the Family, Mother and Child
1657. In September 1997, a new family policy was implemented in Québec.
Protection of the family and assistance measures
1658. The objective of all of the reforms in this area is to offer low-income working men and
women, and especially those who have dependent children, the same benefits as are
available to households receiving income support.
Family allowances
1659. The new system of family allowances is a good example of the philosophy behind
Québec’s intervention strategy. It came into effect in September 1997, and brings
together all government assistance to cover the basic needs of children under the age of
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18. Adopting this approach makes it possible to administer the coverage of children’s
needs separately from the social assistance given to adults with little or no income. The
allowance is paid based on parents’ income, regardless of whether they are working or
receiving income support, and enhances equity between social assistance recipients and
low-income workers, thereby making it more possible for individuals with family
responsibilities to remain in or enter the work force.
Supplementary assistance for children
1660. Since September 1997, supplementary assistance for children has been paid to lowincome families. It combines the new family allowance and the National Child Benefit
Supplement (NCBS). The amounts paid under these two programs depend on a family’s
income level.
Allowance for disabled child
1661. The purpose of the allowance for a disabled child is to help parents, or persons standing
in the place of parents, to provide for the special needs of a disabled child under the age
of 18 who has a severe permanent physical or mental disability, and whose condition
requires special measures for treatment, rehabilitation, retraining or education. It is paid
monthly and is not taxable.
Parental Work Assistance
1662. The aim of the Parental Work Assistance Program (PWA) is to assist low-income
families with at least one dependent child to find or keep employment. The assistance
offered to low-income families who have employment income includes a supplement to
family income and, where applicable, partial reimbursement for eligible child care
expenses. In 1998-1999, $54.9 million was paid to over 20,400 families under this
Tax measures
1663. There are a number of tax measures that enable families with children to reduce their
income tax. These include non-refundable tax credits for dependent minor children,
single-parent families, low-income families, adult children attending post-secondary
educational institutions and handicapped adult children.
1664. In addition, the Québec income tax system offers refundable tax credits that are more in
the nature of a cash transfer than a tax reduction. The main refundable credits that
families may claim are intended to compensate for part of the expenses incurred for child
care, adopting a child and infertility treatments. As well, the Québec Sales Tax (QST)
credit reduces the consumption tax burden for low-income and middle-income families
and protects the progressive structure of the tax system.
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Childcare services
1665. There are two programs in Québec to subsidize the cost of childcare services for parents.
The first is childcare services at minimum cost ($5 per day per child) for children aged 2,
3 and 4 on September 30, 1999. This measure is one element in the new family policy,
the aim of which is to create a network of early childhood centres (ECCs). The ECCs
offer educational childcare services. For children under the age of 2, low-income parents
can obtain financial assistance through the Exemption and Financial Assistance Program
for childcare. Childcare services at minimum cost are also offered for school-aged
children attending primary school. Other assistance measures are provided specifically
for certain income support recipients.
Maternity and paternity protection and leave
1666. The program Pour une maternité sans danger has been administered since 1981 by the
Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CSST) under the Act respecting
Occupational Health and Safety. The objective of the program is to give pregnant or
lactating workers the opportunity to be assigned to safe duties when there are risks to the
woman’s or baby’s health in performing her usual work. If the employer is unable to
assign the woman to another position where there are no risks and dangers, the worker is
entitled to stop working and receive compensation representing 90 percent of her net
1667. In 1998, the CSST received 21,000 applications for compensation, 19,832 of which
(94 percent) were approved. In 1998, $92.2 million was paid in compensation.
1668. The Government of Québec has continued to offer a maternity allowance to partially
make up for the two-week gap between the time a pregnant worker leaves work and the
time she begins receiving maternity benefits under the federal government’s employment
insurance program.
1669. In Québec, the Labour Standards Act provides for leave for certain family events.
Employees who are denied their rights may complain to the Commission des normes du
1670. Generally, working women in Québec are entitled to unpaid maternity leave (the federal
government pays 15 weeks of maternity benefits) for a maximum of 18 consecutive
weeks. When she returns to work, the worker is entitled to return to her usual position
with the same pay and benefits as if she had remained at work.
1671. The father and mother of a newborn, and a person who adopts a pre-school-aged child,
are entitled to unpaid parental leave (the federal government pays 10 weeks of parental
leave benefits). Since 1997, the maximum time for parental leave has been raised to
52 consecutive weeks (previously 34 weeks). Provisions for returning to work depend on
the length of the leave taken. For instance, if the parental leave was no more than
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12 weeks, the employee keeps his or her usual position with the same benefits, including
the pay to which the employee was entitled if he or she had stayed at work.
1672. If the leave lasts longer than 12 weeks, the employee is not guaranteed his or her usual
position by the law. The employer is only required to assign the employee to a
comparable position in the same establishment, with pay at least equal to what the
employee would have been entitled to if he or she had stayed at work, and, where
applicable, equivalent retirement and insurance plans.
1673. An employee may be absent from work for five days a year without pay to fulfil
obligations relating to the care, health or education of a minor child, where he or she is
required to be present because of unforeseeable circumstances or circumstances beyond
his or her control. This leave may be divided into days. A day may also be divided if the
employer consents.
1674. A father may take five days off from work for the birth of his child or the adoption of a
child. The first two days off work are paid if the employee has 60 days of continuous
employment. A person who adopts his or her spouse’s child is entitled to two days off
work without pay.
1675. Under the Politique de périnatalité of the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, a
pilot project was conducted in 1995 in three regions of Québec to assess the possibility of
collaboration between the Travail-Québec centres and the CLSCs (local community
service centres) so that pregnant women receiving employment insurance could be
referred early in their pregnancies to perinatal services in their communities. The
evaluation report was published in 1996, and led to this experiment being extended to all
of the regions of Québec, over a three-year period.
1676. The Government of Québec also believed it was essential to take action to prevent
pregnancies among very young women and to provide support for teenaged mothers,
since the consequences of pregnancy in very young women are often tragic. This
problem was one of the priorities identified in of the 1997-2000 Action Plan, Equality for
All Québec Women. An interdepartmental committee was established to develop
government policy and an action plan.
1677. The practice of midwifery was legalized in September 1999. Public funding, and access
to the services of midwives at no charge, are provided. Midwives may attend births both
at home and in hospital. A training program for midwives, leading to an undergraduate
university degree, has been offered since the fall of 1999. The objective is to train about
200 midwives by 2008.
1678. Women who receive income support are entitled to special benefits in addition to the
monthly benefits: $40 per month to improve nutrition during pregnancy, and $50 per
month during the first year of their child’s life, for mothers who decide to breastfeed their
babies, or financial support to purchase regular, soy-based or lactose-free formula for a
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newborn. This support is paid until the child is 9 months old, or one year old if the child
is intolerant to cow’s milk or lactose or has other difficulties.
Protection of children and young persons
1679. These issues were addressed in Québec’s contribution to the First and Second Reports of
Canada on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
1680. During the reference period, the Government of Québec has developed a measure to
supplement the existing measures in force to implement article 10 of the Covenant, by
enacting the Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative
provisions concerning work performed by children (S.Q., 1999, c.52). That Act, which
was proclaimed on November 5, 1999, provides that an employer may not have work
performed by a child that is disproportionate to the child's capacity, or that is likely to be
detrimental to the child's education, health or physical or moral development. It also
prohibits work at night and during school hours.
1681. In addition, the article of the Civil Code that imposed a support obligation on
grandparents to their grandchildren, and vice versa, was eliminated in 1996. This was an
alternative and exceptional measure, since parents are responsible for providing for the
needs of children in the first place. All things considered, it seemed that this measure
provided no real benefit for children, and ran the risk of poisoning relations within
Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
1682. A fund to combat poverty and promote labour market re-entry was created in 1997. The
fund has a budget of $250 million over three years. Its purpose is to support job-creation
initiatives for people who are most affected by exclusion and poverty.
Housing situation
1683. Government assistance to the most vulnerable households has risen since 1994. The
portion of the budget of the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) that goes to lowincome households rose from 94 percent to 99.9 percent, and in total figures rose from
$462.4 million to $499 million.
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Changes in housing subsidies
Year Social and community
housing assistance
(in $million)
Source: Société d'habitation du Québec, financial statements
1684. The 1996 census data compiled by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
indicate that 473,000 households in Québec have urgent housing needs. About
76 percent, or 360,000, of those households are renters, while 113,000 are owneroccupants. Of the households with urgent needs, 82 percent of the renters and 72 percent
of the owner-occupants are in this situation because of financial problems. In other
words, these households are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
1685. Households are poorly housed because of overcrowding or the need for major repairs to
their housing units. There are 64,800 renter households that are poorly housed, that is,
18 percent of the renter population with urgent housing needs. There are 31,640 poorly
housed owner-occupant households, representing 28 percent of the owner-occupants with
urgent housing needs.
1686. The latest census figures also show that single people make up more than 56 percent of
renter households that spend over 30 percent of their income on housing.
Coverage of renter households with financial accessibility problems, by age group
(March 31, 1998)
Age group
Paying over 30 percent
Receiving housing allowance
of income for housing
Under 55
55 to 64
65 and over
Source: Statistics Canada, 1996 Census of Canada, and SHQ, social housing branch
1687. To meet the most urgent housing needs, particularly among low-income families, seniors,
especially those suffering from loss of autonomy, persons with disabilities, the Inuit,
homeless persons and women and children who are victims of violence, Québec has
adopted an action plan for the coming years.
1688. To that end, a Fonds québécois d’habitation communautaire was created in 1997, with a
recurring annual commitment of $43 million, plus partner contributions, to ensure that
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new housing units are produced every year. The community housing policy has resulted
in the creation of new programs.
Social and community housing
1689. The Accès Logis program, which was created in 1997, enables housing cooperatives and
non-profit organizations to produce community housing, with a minimum contribution
from their communities, for low-income or moderate-income households. Over
2,050 units have been built.
1690. The Allocation-logement program, which was created in 1997, offers financial assistance
for low-income households that spend too high a proportion of their budget on housing.
Over 148,000 people benefit from this program, including persons 55 and over, families,
roomers and immigrants. (This program results from a merger of the Logirente program
for seniors and the special housing allowance benefit of the ministPre de la Solidarité
sociale for families receiving income support).
Social partnerships
1691. The Programme d’aide aux organismes en habitation, which was created in 1996,
subsidizes the operations of organizations dedicated to defending and promoting housing
rights. The Programme d’aide aux associations de locataires d’habitations à loyer
modique, which was created in 1998, supports a variety of community action projects to
benefit low-rental housing tenants.
Habitat improvement
1692. The Shelter Enhancement Program (SEP), which was created in 1995, supplements
Project Haven (1988-1992) and Next Step (1991-1995), two federal programs to assist in
arranging housing for women and children who are victims of family violence. Under
the SEP, interest-free loans are given to community groups to renovate or build shelters
and housing units. These projects have resulted in improved access, use and financial
viability for shelters. Over 1,588 beds have been made available to date.
1693. The Programme d’achat-rénovation de logements sociaux et coopératifs, which was
created in 1995, was created to produce housing (buy buying and renovating, recycling or
new construction) intended primarily for a low-income or moderate-income clientele who
belong to housing cooperatives or non-profit organizations. Over 1,135 housing unites
have been assisted through this program.
1694. The Programme de revitalisation des vieux quartiers, which was created in 1996,
provides support for cities that invest in efforts to rehabilitate their older neighbourhoods.
Over 10,310 housing units have been renovated.
1695. The Programme Réno-Village, which was created in 1997, assists low-income owneroccupants whose homes are located in municipalities with a population under 5,000, or in
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areas that do not have water and sewer services. Over 4,366 housing units have been
renovated under this program.
Projects in Nunavik
1696. The Nunavik residential park has 128 new social housing units. As well, a budget of
$10 million has been committed for the construction of 43 new social housing units in
1697. Québec has programs for access to ownership, renovation and purchase-renovation that
have resulted in housing units being built, purchased or renovated, thereby freeing up
social housing units for other households.
Situation of homeless persons
1698. It is a difficult if not risky undertaking to estimate the number of homeless persons with
any accuracy. It is estimated that there are over 15,000 people in Québec who have used
the services of shelters for the homeless at least once over the course of a year. However,
strictly speaking, there are not 15,000 people sleeping on the streets every night in
Québec. However, that figure is an indicator of the situation of homeless persons.
1699. Québec has been engaged in on-going efforts to assist populations who are homeless or at
risk of becoming homeless since 1987. Since 1994, one of the initiatives undertaken is a
social housing program specifically for this population. One component of the Accès
Logis program, which is designed for special-needs populations with a variety of
problems, has led to the creation of 269 housing units targeted directly for people who are
homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
1700. In an effort to provide a viable solution for the complex problem of homelessness, the
Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ), in addition to focussing on permanent housing,
has adopted a more direct and preventive approach, by creating rooming houses with
“community support.” The advantage of this strategy is that it provides rooms for
various at-risk populations, and at the same time provides accommodation for homeless
persons and enables them to reacquire autonomy in the short and medium term.
1701. To carry out this preventive strategy, SHQ works jointly with public, community and
charitable organizations, and uses housing products and services that are adapted to the
unique characteristics of individuals with special problems. SHQ has developed
interdepartmental initiatives with the goal of harmonizing its housing strategies with
those implemented by the health and social services system. It also participates in a
number of coordinating committees dealing with the problem of homelessness, in
partnership with public and community organizations as well as municipal governments.
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Number of
households or
Housing allowance for low-income roomers in 1999
Purchase-renovation (roomers – studios) since 1995
Accès-Logis (persons who are homeless and at risk of being
homeless) including mental health problems, alcoholism,
since 1997
SEP (Shelter Enhancement Program), since 1997
PRVQ (old neighbourhood revitalization), since 1995
Situation of women
1702. Women who are responsible for a majority of household expenses account for
37.1 percent, or 1,046,525, of all households in Québec.
1703. About 75 percent of Québec households that receive housing assistance are headed by a
woman alone, representing about 183,000 housing units. In the case of the AllocationLogement program, about 90 percent of recipient households are headed by lone women,
representing about 135,000 households. In 1999, SHQ produced a quantitative profile of
women’s housing situation, which was distributed in the spring of 2000.
Situations of persons with disabilities or suffering from loss of autonomy
1704. Over 11.9 percent of the population of Québec reports having a disability, which may
vary from slight to severe. Of those people, 90.7 percent occupy housing units, and the
rest reside in institutions. An aging population and the objectives of integrating people
with disabilities into the community and keeping them in familiar surroundings are
factors that are creating more need for residential adaptation.
1705. For persons with disabilities, nearly 9,117 households or housing units had received
government assistance provided by a range of programs at December 31, 1999. For
persons suffering from a loss of autonomy, nearly 3,797 households received government
assistance during that period.
Situation of immigrants
1706. In Québec, 12 percent, or 332,795, of households are supported by a person born outside
Canada. A large proportion of immigrants, nine out of 10, live in the metropolitan
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Montreal region: there are 236,740 immigrant households in the Montreal Urban
Community, six out of 10 of which live in the city of Montreal.
1707. The households that experience the greatest financial insecurity are those that belong to a
visible ethnic group. The proportion of income spent on housing in households where the
supporting member was born outside Canada is much higher than for households
supported by a person born in Canada (40 percent of such households spend 30 percent or
more of their income on housing versus 26 percent of households supported by persons
born in Canada). More than half of West Indians (50 percent), Africans (51 percent) and
Latin Americans (52 percent) spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing.
1708. The strategies developed by the Société d’habitation du Québec (SHQ) for these
populations are as follows:
in 1999, produced a quantitative profile of the housing situation of immigrant
households in Québec, which was distributed during 2000;
participated in the revision of the Guide à l’intention des nouveaux arrivants –
Comment se loger au Québec to assist newcomers in finding house, which was
produced in cooperation with the ministère des Relations avec les citoyens et de
l’Immigration, the City of Montreal and other public and private partners;
in 1999-2000, continued the community action program relating to a low-rental
family housing complex in Montréal-Nord that was experiencing critical situations
associated with impoverishment and inter-ethnic relations;
continued to provide SHQ support for social housing organizations and managers in
relation to the implementation of training and information tools to facilitate the
process of including and integrating immigrant households.
Collection and determination of support payments
1709. The high rate of non-payment of support is one of the factors in the poverty experienced
by single-parent women heads of family. To remedy that situation, the government of
Québec instituted a universal support collection program in 1995. Among other things,
the Act to facilitate the payment of support makes life easier for the support creditor by
reducing the tension and risk of blackmail and violence between the former spouses,
reducing delays in payment, and standardizing payment times. The Act provides for
support to be paid bi-monthly. Where payment is not made, the government department
responsible for administering the program is able to pay the creditor the equivalent of up
to three months’ support payments (to a maximum of $1,000).
1710. Another factor in poverty is the inadequacy of the child support payments ordered in
separation and divorce judgments. A new model for determining child support payments
came into force in Québec on May 1, 1997. It provides a uniform method for calculating
child support payments in a separation or divorce. The amount of the support is
calculated based on both parents’ incomes, the number of children, the time the children
are in each parent’s custody and, where applicable, certain additional expenses associated
with the needs of the children. One of the aims of this new model is to affirm the
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parents’ joint responsibility for the children and to ensure that the children’s essential
needs are covered.
Article 12: Right to Physical and Mental Health
1711. Since the early 1970s, the entire population of Québec has had access to medical services
at no charge to users for any part of the cost.
1712. For the delivery of services, Québec has skilled and devoted medical professionals who
serve a population which enjoys a universal free health plan, in which individuals have
access to the physician of their choice. In terms of medical resources, there were
14,112 physicians to serve an eligible population of 7.2 million in 1998: a ratio of
196 physicians per 100,000 population, which puts Québec high on the list of
industrialized societies.
1713. In the last few years, a number of measures have been implemented to ensure that
medical resources are distributed fairly and equitably, and particularly in order to serve
remote populations properly.
1714. As well, the Prescription Drug Insurance Plan that was created in 1997 has provided
some 1.4 million people, many of whom are people with modest incomes or who were
not insurable, with insurance coverage for prescription drugs when they are needed for
their health. Drugs are included in the universal health care plan, and a contribution
based on income must be made. Children in low-income families may obtain the
prescription drugs they need free of charge, and seniors and income support recipients do
not pay premiums but must pay a deductible.
1715. A number of measures have been implemented since 1994 to prevent child mortality and
support children’s development. Several projects were carried out to strengthen
preventive and health-promotion intervention with children and their families. Maternal
and infant mortality and morbidity rates reflect the efforts that have been made:
For Québec as a whole, the infant mortality rate fell from 7.5 per 1,000 births in 1984
to 5.5 per 1,000 in 1997; the 1997 mortality rates per 1,000 births were 6.0 for boys
and 5.0 for girls;
perinatal maternal mortality is so low in Québec (fewer than 10 cases annually) that it
has not been a matter of public concern for several years.
1716. The Government of Québec has also updated its perinatal policy, which was adopted in
1993. The perinatal policy focuses on developing environments that are beneficial to
parents-to-be and newborns, developing a complete range of ongoing services that meet
the needs of parents-to-be, and developing innovative approaches for supporting parents.
The policy has been supplemented in recent years by the development of a program to
support parents and their newborns when they leave the hospital.
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1717. In 1997, the MinistPre de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) adopted its Priorités
nationales de santé publique 1997-2002. Those public health priorities include children’s
social adaptation and healthy development. Four specific measures have been identified
to promote healthy development for small children:
an integrated perinatal health promotion and prevention program that includes social
services, health services and educational services for parents and small children from
disadvantaged backgrounds;
an integrated early stimulation program for pre-school children (aged 2 to 4) which is
based on the cooperative efforts of health and social services institutions and early
childhood child care. It focuses on offering children stimulating activities to promote
their overall development, as well as providing information, advice and assistance to
parents to help them perform their role as educators;
breastfeeding support activities, with the goal of having 80 percent of mothers
breastfeeding their babies when they leave hospital, and 60 percent and 30 percent of
mothers still breastfeeding in the third and sixth months of their child’s life,
respectively. These activities are part of an initiative to provide mothers and families
with support and education;
general measures to support fathers’ involvement in childcare and child-rearing. A
significant movement has grown up in Québec in this area, and the Ministère wants to
have a frame of reference for supporting the development of activities that promote
the role of fathers, in all of the services within the health and social services system.
1718. The life expectancy at birth of people in Québec has risen significantly in the last two
decades. It rose by five years, going from 69.5 to 74.9 years for men and from 76.9 to
81.2 years for women. There is still a gap between the sexes, although it narrowed
slightly in the last two decades (7.4 years in 1976 and 6.3 years in 1997). This is mainly
a reflection of the fact that men continue to die younger of cardiovascular disease, cancer,
suicide and accident.
1719. Suicide has been recognized as a major health problem in Québec. In 1995, 1,442 people
died by suicide in Québec: 1,144 men and 298 women. Suicide is the leading cause of
death among men under 40, and the second most common cause of premature death
among Québec men in general. The problem of suicide therefore warranted special
measures being taken. In February 1998, the MSSS adopted the Stratégie québécoise
d’action face au suicide. The aim of the suicide action strategy is to mobilize the health
and social services system and its partners so that together, they can do more to prevent
1720. Working jointly with the ministère de l’Environnement and with the other appropriate
government authorities when needed, MSSS is involved in a number of areas like
surveillance activities relating to health problems associated with the environment, and in
conducting epidemiological studies, identifying and assessing toxicological risks,
analysing the health impacts of industrial projects, managing health problems among the
affected populations (medical analyses, treatment, decontamination), etc.
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1721. In the area of public health, and more specifically infectious disease, MSSS has devoted
particular efforts since 1994 to a free hepatitis B vaccination program for high-priority
populations, and a pneumococcus vaccination program for people aged 65 and over.
1722. In recent years, surveillance of infectious diseases has been expanded significantly. For
diseases under surveillance, a strategy has been developed for emerging infections such
as streptococcus, West Nile encephalitis, and epidemic diarrhea. To complement
Canadian initiatives, heightened surveillance of influenza has also been implemented.
New technologies are being studied so that we can increase our capacity to analyse the
data available and provide decision-makers with more useful information in a timely
1723. Since 1989, under the Stratégie québécoise de lutte contre le sida, services have been
created to provide care for people living with HIV and prevention activities developed for
vulnerable populations, and action has been taken to monitor the progress of the epidemic
and support research in this field.
1724. In 1994, the La Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse
published a report on a public consultation concerning violence and discrimination
against gay men and lesbians. In 1997, in response to its recommendations, MSSS
adopted a policy to adapt social and health services to the realities of their lives. The
policy promotes training for service providers and the adaptation of services to this
population, in cooperation with community organizations.
Article 13: Right to Education
1725. In 1998, the Government of Québec embarked on a large-scale reform of the education
system, which resulted in, among other things, the revision of the Education Act and the
creation of a policy on school adaptation. The policy is designed to ensure that schools
are adapted to the needs of all students. It stresses early intervention and meeting
students’ needs to ensure that they have a better chance to succeed.
1726. The revision of the law provided an opportunity to reaffirm the right of handicapped
students to have access to education, the obligation to work with parents to develop an
intervention plan, having regard to the evaluation of the student and his or her needs, and
the priority placed on integrating students with special needs into regular groups or
1727. There are other measures that also have an impact on the academic success of students
with handicaps and children with difficulties, including:
improved financial support and integration into regular classes;
improved and accessible information and communication technologies;
reduction of administrative constraints by reducing the number of categories of
students with difficulties or handicaps;
development of a reference framework to guide interventions with students at risk;
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making schools more open to parents and partners.
1728. Adults’ right to an education is recognized in the Education Act. In 1994, the
introduction of the Basic adult general education regulation confirmed Québec’s
commitment to offering the entire adult population a basic education, including literacy,
and making it accessible throughout the province.
1729. The orientations adopted in relation to the development of basic education reflect the idea
of enabling everyone to fully exercise his or her social, economic and cultural roles,
without regard for religion or race. Québec has adopted special rules for adult education
programs for the Aboriginal population, with the objective of respecting their culture.
1730. The ministère de l’Éducation has also provided school boards with the financial resources
to ensure that these services will be free of charge to anyone who wishes to achieve an
academic level equivalent to nine years of basic education.
1731. In December 1997, on the question of access to loan programs for post-secondary
education, the ministère de l’Éducation enacted the Act respecting financial assistance
for education expenses, amending the Act respecting financial assistance for students. As
well, since April 1997, financial assistance to students has been an autonomous unit of
the ministère de l’Éducation, with a mandate to promote access to full-time vocational
secondary education, college education and university education. Although the student
loans and grants program is based on the principle that students bear primary
responsibility for the costs of their education, the main objective is to remove the barrier
represented by a lack of resources to attend school full-time by granting adequate
financial assistance to anyone who has the desire and ability to study.
1732. There are other measures to supplement the main program that are designed to meet
special needs:
deferred repayment for persons in precarious financial situations;
grants for persons with significant functional deficiencies;
grants for student association elected representatives;
loans for the purchase of personal computers;
summer grants for francophones outside Québec;
the study-work program;
the debt relief program.
1733. Since 1994, there have been changes to the loans and grants program designed to reduce
student indebtedness while preserving the assistance provided for those most in need.
1734. The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunessse analyzed some of
the demands made by the Québec student movement in relation to article 13 of the
Covenant. That study first summarizes the nature and scope of the commitments made in
the Covenant, based, inter alia, on General Observation No. 3 of the Committee on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, relating to the nature of the obligations of the
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States parties. That is followed by observations based more specifically on the right to an
education recognized by article 13. The topics addressed are free education, freezing
university tuition fees, the loans and grants program, the method of selecting university
students and cutbacks in government education funding. The Commission has submitted
the results of the study to the leading university and college student federations.
Situation of immigrants
1735. In the fall of 1998, the ministère de l’Éducation published a policy on educational
integration and intercultural education, A school for the future. The policy is addressed to
all primary and secondary educational institutions in Québec, and states the broad focuses
for intervention that should guide the actions taken by the education community to
promote the educational integration of immigrant students and prepare them to live in a
world characterized by diversity and interdependencies.
1736. One of the principles for those actions, which is the reference point for the policy
statement and to which Québec schools look in dealing with ethnocultural, linguistic,
religious and other diversity, is that equality of opportunity must be promoted. This
implies that educational institutions have an obligation to all students under their
responsibility, to fulfil their mission to educate, socialize and provide skills, whatever the
students’ characteristics (ethnic origin, mother tongue, social condition, sex, religion,
1737. Québec’s educational integration and intercultural education policy is also based on the
principle of education for democratic citizenship in a pluralist society, and proposes that
students must be prepared to play an active role in a democratic Québec society.
1738. The ministère de l’Éducation has developed a Plan of Action (1998-2002) which
accompanies the policy and includes a variety of measures to concrete the guidelines. Its
objectives include sharing of responsibility by all players in the educational system for
integrating immigrant students and ensuring their educational success. This means using
the Programme d’enseignement des langues d’origine, ensuring proficiency in French as
the language of instruction and the common language of public life, recognizing diversity
and respecting democratic values, and adequate representation of ethnocultural diversity
among school staff.
Situation of Aboriginal people
1739. The ministère de l’Éducation continues to offer Aboriginal people educational services
that are adapted to their unique cultural and language needs. On the question of
language, the Charter of the French Language gives Amerindians the right to instruction
in their mother tongue. Special arrangements have been made for the Inuit, Cree and
Naskapi to determine for themselves the extent to which French or English will be used
as languages of instruction.
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1740. Activities in Amerindian and Inuit communities, in cooperation with all of the
administrative units of the ministère de l’Éducation, have focused on promoting the
development of resources that are adapted to the special characteristics of the various
Aboriginal communities in Québec. The work of adapting educational resources is based
on projects designed for the Aboriginal communities.
1741. Those projects are carried out either by Amerindian groups or by educational
organizations that have an Amerindian clientele, and take into consideration the needs
expressed and resources available. The following are examples:
adapting curricula, pedagogical guides and didactic materials, particularly in areas
where language and culture are of considerable importance;
adapting pedagogical rules to certain aspects of Aboriginal life, such as the conditions
for issuing secondary studies diplomas, the academic calendar, approval of curricula,
pedagogical evaluation, the conditions for transferring from one institution to another
and pedagogical support for students;
developing varying pedagogical approaches to be used in intercultural education.
1742. Institutions of postsecondary education in Québec have developed expertise in education
for Aboriginal people. Since 1971, the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC) has
worked in partnership with the First Nations. In 1993-1994, a Centre d’études
amérindiennes was created to respond to the needs expressed by Aboriginal people. In
addition, UQAC offers a variety of certificates, mainly in education, science,
multidisciplinary programs, administration, psychology and languages, to respond to the
needs of Aboriginal people, who are involved in the administration of the Centre
d’études. The research section has produced a number of publications to its name on the
languages, population, history and culture of the First Nations.
1743. McGill University in Montreal has an Aboriginal teacher training program. The program
was first developed for the Inuit, in close cooperation with the Kativik School Board, and
then extended to the Cree, in cooperation with the Cree School Board, and also to a
number of other First Nations, including the Algonquin, the Miq’Mak and the Mohawk.
In addition, McGill University also developed a program for the Inuit to train social
1744. The ministère de l’Éducation has a policy of promoting access to post-secondary
education by encouraging flexibility and cultural adaptation to meet the needs of
Aboriginal people, while at the same time maintaining the standards and requirements of
any diploma.
Disabled children
1745. An analysis of the proportion of students who are in regular classes suggests that there is
a slight trend toward greater educational integration of students with disabilities.
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1746. Of the thousand disabled students who are now in kindergarten, more than 50 percent are
attending regular classes. During the 1987-1997 period, the proportion of disabled
students in regular classes at the pre-school level varied between 50 percent and
60 percent.
1747. At the primary school level, there has been more integration into regular classes. The
proportion of students with disabilities in regular classes rose from 29 percent in 19871988 to 42 percent in 1996-1997. An analysis of the proportion of students in regular
classes also indicates an upward trend in the secondary schools; in 1987, 10 percent of
students were in regular classes, and ten years later the figure was 18 percent. Disabled
students are increasingly attending post-secondary educational institutions.
1748. The ministère de l’Éducation has over a dozen programs that support access and
adaptation of instruction for students with disabilities from the pre-school level to
university. The first way in which this is done is to provide adapted services for students
with disabilities by funding the school boards. It also funds a portion of supplementary
services, support in class, adaptation of school materials, etc. About $200 million is
distributed to the school boards on an annual basis.
1749. In addition to this, there are supplementary allowances that cover the organization of
child care services in the schools, responses to the educational needs of disabled students
who remain at home, the development of regional and supra-regional educational services
and support for integrating disabled students, innovative projects to integrate disabled
students, etc. The ministère de l’Éducation invests about $12 million in these
supplementary allowances.
1750. In addition to those allowances, there is a program to subsidize the purchase of textbooks
in Braille by school boards, and a program that provides allowances for the special needs
of children with major functional deficiencies that covers the costs incurred for
interpreting, note-taking, in-class support or tape-recording readings. That program also
covers technical aids that are not subsidized by other organizations. Since 1998, the
ministère de l’Éducation has provided funding for adapted school transportation where
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Scientific Progress and the Protection of Authors’ Rights
Cultural life
1751. As part of its cultural policy, the Government of Québec has intensified its efforts to
promote participation by all Québecers in cultural life.
1752. More precisely, during the period covered by the report it has implemented three major
sectoral policies:
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the Politique de diffusion des arts de la scène to promote public access to a diverse
range of performing arts throughout Québec;
the Politique de la lecture et du livre which has led, among other things, to the
implementation of a variety of measures to enhance the quality of services in public
and school libraries;
the Politique québécoise de l’autoroute de l’information which has as one of its
priorities to increase the use of the information highway.
1753. Some of the other important measures that have been taken to promote cultural
development are:
creating the Journées nationales de la culture, to make the public more aware of
cultural life in all its forms, by having three days every year when cultural activities
are offered free of charge in a festive atmosphere;
increasing the budgets allocated to assisting community and Aboriginal media, to
stimulate and strengthen the dissemination of information outside of the major urban
creating a program to assist in restoring religious heritage sites of any denomination:
churches, synagogues, temples, presbyteries or convents;
creating a program to provide access to the information highway in public libraries,
through the installation of 1,115 access points in 830 public libraries;
ten years after it came into force, updating the Act respecting the professional status
and conditions of engagement of performing, recording and film artists, the ultimate
and central aim of which is still to improve the minimum conditions of employment
for self-employed artists.
1754. The ministère de la Culture et des Communications has also continued its coordination
efforts, to find municipal partners with which to work in order to better respond to the
public’s needs. For example, it has signed new cultural development agreements, and
renewed others, with the largest municipalities in Québec and helped them to implement
cultural policies. By the end of March 1999, there were 57 agreements in effect and 41
others being negotiated.
1755. The ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the ministère de l’Éducation have
prepared a memorandum of agreement for the purpose of enhancing coordinated and
collaborative efforts on the part of the various cultural and educational communities, one
of the aims being to encourage exposure to the arts and arts education at all educational
levels, and to strengthen cooperation between municipal and school libraries.
1756. The government has created the Institut national de l’image et du son, which is becoming
“the” place to go for specialized studies in cinematography and television, and founded
the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles, thereby bringing government
support for cultural undertakings under a single government umbrella.
1757. On the international scene, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications has
adopted a new tool, the program called Soutien au développement des réseaux et des
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marchés internationaux, to promote the international success of artists and undertakings,
using bilateral cooperation agreements signed by the Government of Québec as one of its
primary vehicles.
1758. Rencontre Québécois-Autochtones presents a program of cultural activities, as a joint
effort by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse and the
Institut culturel et éducatif montagnais. The activities at this event, which are originated
and conducted by Aboriginal people, provide non-Aboriginal secondary school students
with an introduction to Aboriginal life as part of their regular courses. They include a
preparatory meeting in each school where activities are held, a training workshop for
teachers, and activity days under the shaputuan, a big traditional encampment that can
accommodate sixty students. Rencontre Québécois-Autochtones has been a resounding
success everywhere it has been held.
Promotion of cultural identity
1759. On the question of promoting cultural identity as a factor in mutual appreciation among
individuals and ethnic groups, the Government of Québec held the Semaine québécoise
de la citoyenneté for the first time in 1997. The objectives of that event, which picks up
where the Intercultural Week leaves off, are:
to support, develop and strengthen solidarity among citizens, whatever their origin;
to affirm the pluralism of Québec society;
to promote the development of a feeling of belonging. Activities are organized in all
regions of Québec with various partners, to celebrate the common values that sustain
that feeling of belonging.
1760. The Prix québécois de la citoyenneté are awarded as one of the activities of the Semaine
québécoise de la citoyenneté. There are three prizes — for increasing intercultural
understanding, for democratic values, and for solidarity — to recognize individuals,
businesses and organizations for their exceptional contributions to activities relating to
those themes.
1761. The support for civic participation program was created in 1998. It replaces the
intercultural understanding program that had been established in 1992, and its objective is
to promote the full exercise of citizenship in Québec and the development of a feeling of
belonging to Québec society. It provides funding for projects to offer citizenship
education and increase civic participation among the public. The ministère des Relations
avec les citoyens et de l’Immigration spends about $1.9 million on this project annually.
Research, science and technology
1762. Government activities in respect of research, science and technology, which had
previously been under the jurisdiction of two separate departments, were combined in
June 1999 under the responsibility of one, the ministère de la Recherche, de la Science et
de la Technologie. Its mission is to establish strategic orientations in relation to scientific
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and technological development in Québec. Its role is to encourage and support initiatives
and stimulate interaction among universities and colleges, industry and government, and
organizations and associations, to promote convergence in respect of research initiatives
that affect all aspects of social, cultural and economic life. It is also mandated to provide
leadership and representation in these respects, both in Québec and abroad. In January
1999, the ministère formed a task force with the mandate of developing a science policy.
1763. Progress in medicine, as a scientific discipline and social practice, raise fundamental
questions from the standpoint of human dignity, individual equality and the right to
participate in the benefits of scientific progress. The Commission des droits de la
personne et des droits de la jeunesse (la Commission) is persuaded that modern medicine
is a kind of crossroads where concerns that run counter to an exclusively technical,
market-oriented or bureaucratic logic converge, and in 1995 it co-organized a conference
focussing on human rights and the issues in modern medicine. The proceedings of that
conference, in which the Société québécoise de droit international and the Département
des sciences juridiques of the Université du Québec B Montréal participated, have been
1764. The Commission also took part in the process surrounding the enactment by the National
Assembly of amendments to the Civil Code of Québec in relation to medical research
(S.Q. 1998, c. 32). In its brief, the Commission examined the proposed amendments
having regard to the fundamental rights of research subjects. It concluded that some of
the amendments appeared to be justified. However, the Commission was concerned
about the rights of minors and adults under a disability who are involved in experiments,
and recommended that the composition and functioning of the ethics committees that
approve the experiments be more closely regulated. That recommendation was accepted
by the legislature.
1765. The Commission’s internet site provides access to information about the Québec Charter
and the Commission’s services, activities, achievements and publications. The
Commission has also created an electronic distribution list to enable a discussion group
on human rights education to converse about various topics. In 1999, about 300
messages were circulated using the distribution list, which has 200 subscribers, mainly in
Québec, but also in France, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, the United Kingdom,
Argentina and the United States.
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New Brunswick
1766. During the period from October 1994 to September 1999, the Department of Family and
Community Services underwent a fundamental shift in business direction. Continuing
with the Andersen partnership, the Department moved away from the traditional
organizational focus of providing a welfare cheque and moved toward a client-focused,
results-driven organization committed to client self-sufficiency. With developments in
the areas of youth, persons with disabilities and labour market, the Department
introduced significant and important policies and implemented a financial and case
management system.
1767. The Family Income Security Act was proclaimed in 1995-1996. The changes brought
about by the Act include new policies and a separate rate structure for youth, specialized
policies for the disabled and future changes to the structure and name of the Social
Welfare Appeals Board. The Family Income Security Act also brought changes to the
names of two financial support programs. The Transitional Assistance Program replaced
the Upgrading, Training and Placement Program and the Extended Benefits Program
replaced the Long-Term Established Needs Program.
1768. The Department also introduced an enhanced dental program for clients exiting the
system for work, and increased access to clients requiring day care in rural parts of the
1769. The regional structure of the Department was reorganized to improve efficiency and
effectiveness of the service delivery model.
1770. In 1996, the Department officially opened its doors to NB youth through the Youth
Futures program. Youth Futures provides employment development services to youth
between 15-24.
1771. Signed in 1996, the agreement on Labour Market Development transferred federal
responsibility for labour market programs to the province. New employees delivered
employment programs and services to Employment Insurance clients. This represented a
fundamental shift in the business of the Department, which was formerly responsible to
serve social assistance recipients, persons with disabilities and youth.
1772. In 1998, the Department and Human Resources Development Canada signed the CanadaNew Brunswick Agreement on Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities
Initiative replacing the Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Persons Program.
1773. Significant changes were made to one of the policies the Department used to determine
eligibility for social assistance benefits. The Economic Unit policy was renamed the
New Brunswick
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Household Income Policy to more fully reflect its intention. Under this policy, the
Department considers the assets and income of all individuals living under the same roof
when determining eligibility.
1774. In addition, four specific groups of clients are now exempt from the Household Income
Policy. This includes social assistance clients whose adult children are living at home;
individuals who cannot work due to physical, emotional or social conditions; and longterm clients of the Department. Also exempt are single parent families who have been on
assistance for at least 12 months who wish to share accommodations. Eligible families
are those in which at least one of the single parents is actively pursuing education,
training or employment opportunities.
1775. As part of the introduction of the National Child Benefit, the Department made
significant new investments in its child-care program. This is an important program
designed to help low-income working families in the transition between social assistance
and work. In 1998, the Department invested an additional $2.1 million in the child-care
program. This investment was comprised of the addition of 200 new daycare subsidies,
an increase in the daily daycare subsidy rate and the introduction of a new service, the
Alternative Child Care Program.
1776. The Alternative Child Care Program offers financial assistance to low-income parents or
guardians who are in school or working and do not have access to licensed day care. This
allows more New Brunswick parents to access child-care during evenings, nights and
weekends or if there are no licensed day care centres in their community.
1777. In 1999, the Department expanded to include the Housing portfolio in order to better
serve New Brunswickers in need.
1778. The Department of the Environment and Local Government currently administers several
Acts and regulations that serve to promote a high quality of life through strong
ecosystems, throughout the province. These acts and regulations are periodically
reviewed to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of New Brunswickers. The
Department is reviewing the Municipalities Act, the principle piece of legislation that
guides municipal operations. This comprehensive review will modernize the legislation
and is geared toward giving municipalities greater flexibility in responding to emerging
issues, while at the same time, bringing more clarity to the statute. One of the key issues
raised during the review has been around local governance in the unincorporated regions.
To address this matter, the Department will be examining potential new governance
models that would enhance local decision making responsibilities regarding services and
activities affecting those communities.
1779. The Department of the Environment and Local Government believes in working with
communities to build a strong foundation for environmental stewardship. Public
consultation is often instrumental in shaping the direction that programs take. For
example, the Department's “full Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) explicitly
requires public consultation. Similarly, the Community Planning Act may also require
New Brunswick
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such measures, along with many programs and services which benefit from regular public
Article 6: Right to Work
1780. The Income Security Division of the Department of Family and Community Services
offers training and employment programs through its Program Services section. The
object of this program is to provide potentially employable individuals with an
opportunity to acquire skills and experience, which will increase their employability and
limit the likelihood of their long-term dependence on social-assistance benefits.
1781. Participation in all programs and services is voluntary. Only the educational training
requirement for youth is compulsory.
1782. The Income Security Division of the Department administered the Training and
Employment Support Services Program under the Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled
Persons Program up to April 1998. As of May 1998, the Training and Employment
Support Services Program falls under the direction of the Canada-New Brunswick
Agreement on Employability Assistance for People with Disabilities Initiative. This new
agreement assists people with disabilities to prepare for employment, and obtain or retain
employment if interrupted due to job crises.
1783. Efforts are ongoing to improve the representation of women in all occupational categories
and groups, where they are under represented, as well as to create a climate that supports
employment equity generally.
1784. A Mentorship Program for Female Students has been established. This program,
coordinated jointly by the Official Languages and Workplace Equity Branch, Office of
Human Resources and the Department of Training and Employment Development,
formally pairs female students with civil servants working in non-traditional or senior
level jobs. Through the program, female students have gained 12 to 14 weeks of valuable
employment experience in various areas of the province. An average of 50 female
students have participated each year.
1785. Progressive policies such as the Flexible Workplace Policy have been fully implemented.
Women’s representation among Senior Executive Officers and in the Middle
Management Group has increased and there has been an increase in the number of
women appointed as members of boards and commissions.
1786. The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Program has continued to evolve since the
last report was submitted and continues to pursue the mandate of providing equal access
to employment, training and promotional opportunities for Aboriginals, Persons with
Disabilities and Visible Minority Persons.
1787. In 1994, the EEO program contributed to the creation of a New Brunswick based
bilingual video of three vignettes titled “What is Prejudice.” In 1997, the EEO program
New Brunswick
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participated in the creation of a New Brunswick based bilingual video titled “Vision for
Equality.” These videos were directed by a New Brunswick Human Rights Commission
staff member and were circulated throughout the public school system. Each video was
introduced into the curriculum through their “Social Studies” class and was accompanied
with a workbook. Copies have been made available to other service organizations for a
minimal fee.
1788. In 1996, the EEO program conducted an independent study of the Equal Employment
Opportunity (EEO) Program pertaining to Aboriginal persons. The study examined
individual, organizational and environmental factors that impact the placement of
Aboriginal persons in the New Brunswick Civil Service. The study addressed underlying
reasons for these problems and provided 25 recommendations to address these areas of
1789. In 1998, the EEO program helped organize an Aboriginal Cultural Awareness workshop.
The workshop was facilitated by Aboriginal people at a First Nation community. The
workshop shared information with approximately 50 service providers and stakeholders
responsible for providing a variety of services to First Nation peoples.
1790. In 1998, the EEO program created the Directory of Career Counselling and Job
Placement Services for Persons with Disabilities in New Brunswick. This is a
comprehensive listing of non-profit and provincial government departments that provide
support services designed to help individuals with disabilities to succeed in their efforts
to become educated, trained and gainfully employed. Access to the directory is achieved
by visiting a Web site or by telephone. Information is updated on an on-going basis.
1791. Work is currently underway to update the Employment Equity Policy. The new focus
will be to merge with the EEO Policy, create an inclusive workplace and to address
barriers for employment for women as well as for EEO target groups.
Steps taken to safeguard the right to work
1792. In April 1996, the Human Rights Act was amended to allow the Human Rights
Commission to delegate its complaint investigation, settlement and dismissal functions to
its staff, with a proviso that any decision made by the staff under this authority may be
appealed to the Commission. Accordingly, in March 1997, the Commission authorized
the Director to close complaint files in specific situations. The 1996 amendment also
gave the Minister the option of referring complaints that cannot be settled to the Labour
and Employment Board, a permanent tribunal established under the Labour and
Employment Board Act. Up to then, such cases could only be heard by human rights
boards of inquiry appointed on a case by case basis. The Commission was also given
carriage of the complaint before such tribunals so that its legal counsel could represent
the Complainant’s interests. These measures were designed to accelerate the complaint
process and reduce the cost of bringing cases before boards of inquiry.
New Brunswick
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Full realization of right to gain a living by work
1793. The Department of Training and Employment Development supports this right through
its mandate “to build a trained workforce with the necessary skills and job training aimed
at ensuring New Brunswick has a 21st century labour force able to meet the new economy
needs of an increasingly competitive world.” All employment and training programming
and Community Colleges, as well as responsibility for industrial relations and workplace
regulation and apprenticeship and occupational certification, are combined in this
1794. The Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) was
signed on December 13, 1996, allowing the government of New Brunswick to assume
responsibility for the design and delivery of employment programming, formerly
administered by the federal government. The implementation date was April 1, 1997.
The Agreement also provided for the establishment of Canada-New Brunswick Human
Resource Service Centres through which New Brunswickers have