Social Rights Accountability Research Project (SRAP) – Possible Solutions

The Next Step Towards Definitive Social Rights Policies

With the widespread chronic social and human rights issues experienced by Canada’s marginalized residents, the entire country is facing a moral crisis with implications that threatened to transcend its borders. An affluent nation currently riding a wave of unprecedented growth and economic prosperity, Canada nevertheless has to face up to social inequalities and human rights violations in its own backyard. This ‘backyard’ is the Canadian North, and its poverty, unemployment, and homelessness rates are reaching record numbers.

Nearly every country in the world has similar socioeconomic issues to deal with of course, not only in the poorer developing nations of Africa and Asia, but also in more prosperous countries such as Australia, Great Britain, and the United States. But what makes the situation in Canada so significant is that the country itself is gifted with considerable wealth. While the elite and the middle class reap the benefits of living in what is, by most standards, a wealthy country, the marginalized segments of society continue to be burdened by conditions that should not exist in a country such as Canada.

But they do exist, and the consequences are vast and serious. Scores of Aboriginal people and new immigrants are finding many opportunities closed to them, with widespread unemployment and the lack of suitable housing constant aspects of life in post-Charter Canada. Single mother families, people with disabilities, and racially segmented communities are equally affected by these conditions, which can best be described as deplorable.

Although the solutions to such problems are as complex as the very issues that have birthed them, a clue may lie in the values that every Canadian hold dear: human rights and equality. In fact, these values have been the defining characteristic of Canadian growth and development. By reaffirming a commitment to upholding these very same ideals that the Canadian forefathers worked so hard to instill, Canada may yet find itself with the means to foster a more socially just society.

Many of the components critical to rebuilding such a society actually already exist. With more venues and forums by which the marginalized can make suggestions and air out their concerns, social rights practitioners now have the means to influence decision makers in the government and hopefully get them to address–by direct action–the injustices the continue to plague the nation.

Other approaches that may help significantly in improving the conditions among marginalized Canadians include working with new federalism programs and policies in a more constructive manner. Any social rights related discussions should also consider input from aboriginal communities and other people who previously had no avenue by which to share their needs and insights.

There are still many other areas that can be improved on if the goal is to make some perceptible changes to the socioeconomic makeup among Canada’s poor and downtrodden. Apart from passing even more new laws, the solution may lie in a wider spread refocusing and reaffirmation of the nation’s core values as they relate to human rights and equality.