This chapter examines the status of socio-economic rights in Canada and the competing constitutional visions that confront Canadian courts in this area. The chapter presents the historical context and legislative history of the Canadian Charter as a source of socio-economic rights protection. It describes the Supreme Court’s approach to the Charter in light of Canada’s international human rights obligations and considers sections 7 and 15 with specific reference to the positive versus negative rights debate to which social and economic rights claims have frequently given rise. The chapter discusses recent challenges in two of the most active areas of current socio-economic rights litigation in Canada: housing and health. The chapter concludes by referring to the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for resolving the opposing paradigms that characterize this important area of constitutional rights.
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