1. The Committee considered
the fourth periodic report of the Government of Canada (CCPR/C/103/Add.5)
at its 1737th and 1738th meetings (CCPR/SR.1737–1738), held on 26
March 1999, and adopted the following concluding observations at its 1747th
meeting (CCPR/C/SR.1747), held on 6 April 1999.
2. The Committee welcomes
the comprehensive fourth periodic report as well as the additional written
information covering the period since the submission of that report. The
Committee expresses its appreciation for the presence of the large delegation
representing the Government of Canada and for the frank and forthright
replies furnished by the delegation to the issues raised by the Committee.
However, the Committee is concerned that the delegation was not able to
give up-to-date answers or information about compliance with the Covenant
by the provincial authorities.
B. Principal positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes
the delegation's commitment to take action to ensure effective follow-up
in Canada of the Committee's concluding observations and to further develop
and improve mechanisms for ongoing review of compliance of the State party
with the provisions of the Covenant. In particular, the Committee welcomes
the delegation's commitment to inform public opinion in Canada about the
Committee's concerns and recommendations, to distribute the Committee's
concluding observations to all members of Parliament and to ensure that
a parliamentary committee will hold hearings of issues arising from the
4. The Committee welcomes
the final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the
declared commitment of federal and provincial governments to work in partnership
with aboriginal peoples to address needed reforms.
5. The Committee commends
the Government of Canada in regard to the Nunavut land and governance
agreement of the eastern Arctic.
6. The Committee welcomes
the implementation of the Employment Equity Act, which entered into force
in October 1996, establishing a compliance regime that requires federal
departments to ensure that women, persons belonging to aboriginal and
visible minorities and disabled persons constitute a fair part of their
C. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
7. The Committee, while taking
note of the concept of self-determination as applied by Canada to the
aboriginal peoples, regrets that no explanation was given by the delegation
concerning the elements that make up that concept, and urges the State
party to report adequately on implementation of article 1 of the Covenant
in its next periodic report.
8. The Committee notes that,
as the State party acknowledged, the situation of the aboriginal peoples
remains "the most pressing human rights issue facing Canadians". In this
connection, the Committee is particularly concerned that the State party
has not yet implemented the recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP). With reference to the conclusion by RCAP that
without a greater share of lands and resources institutions of aboriginal
self-government will fail, the Committee emphasizes that the right to
self-determination requires, inter alia, that all peoples must
be able to freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources and that
they may not be deprived of their own means of subsistence (art. 1, para.
2). The Committee recommends that decisive and urgent action be taken
towards the full implementation of the RCAP recommendations on land and
resource allocation. The Committee also recommends that the practice of
extinguishing inherent aboriginal rights be abandoned as incompatible
with article 1 of the Covenant.
9. The Committee is concerned
with the inadequacy of remedies for violations of articles 2, 3 and 26
of the Covenant. The Committee recommends that the relevant human rights
legislation be amended so as to guarantee access to a competent tribunal
and to an effective remedy in all cases of discrimination.
10. The Committee is concerned
that gaps remain between the protection of rights under the Canadian charter
and other federal and provincial laws and the protection required under
the Covenant, and recommends measures to ensure full implementation of
Covenant rights. In this regard the Committee recommends that consideration
be given to the establishment of a public body responsible for overseeing
implementation of the Covenant and for reporting on any deficiencies.
11. The Committee is deeply
concerned that the State party so far has failed to hold a thorough public
inquiry into the death of an aboriginal activist who was shot dead by
provincial police during a peaceful demonstration regarding land claims
in September 1995, in Ipperwash. The Committee strongly urges the State
party to establish a public inquiry into all aspects of this matter, including
the role and responsibility of public officials.
12. The Committee is concerned
that homelessness has led to serious health problems and even to death.
The Committee recommends that the State party take positive measures required
by article 6 to address this serious problem.
13. The Committee is concerned
that Canada takes the position that compelling security interests may
be invoked to justify the removal of aliens to countries where they may
face a substantial risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The Committee refers to its General Comment on article 7 and recommends
that Canada revise this policy in order to comply with the requirements
of article 7 and to meet its obligation never to expel, extradite, deport
or otherwise remove a person to a place where treatment or punishment
that is contrary to article 7 is a substantial risk.
14. The Committee expresses
its concern that the State party considers that it is not required to
comply with requests for interim measures of protection issued by the
Committee. The Committee urges Canada to revise its policy so as to ensure
that all such requests are heeded in order that implementation of Covenant
rights is not frustrated.
15. The Committee remains
concerned about Canada's policy in relation to expulsion of long-term
alien residents, without giving full consideration in all cases to the
protection of all Covenant rights, in particular under articles 23 and
16. The Committee is concerned
about the increasingly intrusive measures affecting the right to privacy,
under article 17 of the Covenant, of people relying on social assistance,
including identification techniques such as fingerprinting and retinal
scanning. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to
ensure the elimination of such practices.
17. The Committee notes with
concern that the State party has not secured throughout its territory
freedom of association. In particular, the Act to Prevent Unionization
with respect to Community Participation under the Ontario Works Act, passed
by the Ontario legislature in November 1998, which denies participants
in "workfare" the right to join a trade union and to bargain collectively,
affects implementation of article 22 of the Covenant. The Committee recommends
that the State party take measures to ensure compliance with the Covenant.
18. The Committee is concerned
that differences in the way in which the National Child Benefit Supplement
for low-income families is implemented in some provinces may result in
a denial of this benefit to some children. This may lead to non-compliance
with article 24 of the Covenant.
19. The Committee is concerned
about ongoing discrimination against aboriginal women. Following the adoption
of the Committee's Views in the Lovelace case in July 1981, amendments
were introduced to the Indian Act in 1985. Although the Indian status
of women who had lost status because of marriage was reinstituted, this
amendment affects only the woman and her children, not subsequent generations,
which may still be denied membership in the community. The Committee recommends
that these issues be addressed by the State party.
20. The Committee is concerned
that many women have been disproportionately affected by poverty. In particular,
the very high poverty rate among single mothers leaves their children
without the protection to which they are entitled under the Covenant.
While the delegation expressed a strong commitment to address these inequalities
in Canadian society, the Committee is concerned that many of the programme
cuts in recent years have exacerbated these inequalities and harmed women
and other disadvantaged groups. The Committee recommends a thorough assessment
of the impact of recent changes in social programmes on women and that
action be undertaken to redress any discriminatory effects of these changes.
21. The Committee sets the
date for the submission of Canada's fifth periodic report as April 2004.
It urges the State party to make available to the public the text of the
State party's fourth periodic report and these concluding observations.
It requests that the next periodic report be widely disseminated among
the public, including to non-governmental organizations operating in Canada.