Upholding Human Rights Through Public Policy – November 29th, 2017

Good morning subscribers and thanks for tuning in to another edition of the Morning Brief!

This week we turn our attention to the connection (or sometimes, disconnect) between public policy and human rights. The articles below demonstrate that for public policy to be truly just, human rights must be placed at its centre, rather than left in the margins.

This week’s Morning Brief was prepared by Cindy Liu. Sign up here to receive the Morning Brief directly to your inbox.

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  • On October 17th, Quebec’s Liberal government passed Bill C-62, which requires employees of public bodies and those receiving public services to uncover their faces. The law is heavily debated, with critics arguing that it violates human rights, women’s rights, and especially, the rights of Muslim women who wear the burqa or niqab. Talha Sadiq and Harpreet Sahota discuss how Bill C-62 plays into the politics of fear and further isolates and excludes minority groups [Sadiq & Sahota/PPGR].
  • Have you heard of the “Sixties Scoop”? The term refers to Canada’s child welfare policies of the 1960s-1980s, where Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed into non-Indigenous foster and adoptive homes. To make amends, the federal and provincial governments have negotiated an agreement for survivors. But the fact that the agreement leaves out Métis and non-status Indigenous people casts doubt upon its accountability to human rights overall [Winger/PPGR].
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that “Housing rights are human rights” as the Liberals announced the 10-year, $40 billion National Housing Strategy. The Strategy will help prevent homelessness as well as improve the availability and quality of housing for the 1.7 million Canadians in need of core housing. The government is also preparing a separate Indigenous housing strategy tailored to the needs of inadequately housed Indigenous people. Taking a “human rights approach” to the housing problem is no doubt, a historic step in the long march ahead to eliminating chronic homelessness [Tasker/CBC News].
  • Is Canada violating human rights with its current immigration policy? The government is looking at all options to revamp its 40-year old policy, which blocks entry to applicants who could impose excessive costs on the country’s public health or social service systems. Several groups have argued that the policy discriminates against people with disabilities and that the provision should be fully repealed to properly align with Canadian values regarding the inclusion of people of all abilities into society [Harris/CBC News].

We hope these articles have conveyed to you the importance of accounting for human rights in public policy. The next edition of the Brief will be making its way to your inboxes on December 6th.