Human Rights

Official Development Assistance

Official Development Assistance

Since the 1960s, Canada has been internationally recognised as a progressive and generous country in its diplomatic and financial contributions to promoting international development, thought its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. However, since coming to power in 2006, the Conservative government has been quietly dismantling programmes, changing policy orientations and priorities, and—following an initial increase which peaked in 2011—cutting the federal foreign aid budget, all to the point where there has been a major reorientation of Canada’s international development agenda, with virtually no public consultation.

Bill C-51: Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015

CSIS sign

Since the fall of 2014, the Harper government has introduced two significant bills to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other national security related legislation, identified as Bill C-51 and Bill C-44.

PEN Canada

Since January 2013 PEN Canada has filed four access to information (ATI) requests in an effort to understand how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) interprets the prohibition on “partisan political activity” set forth in ss.


On 1 December 2014, the House of Commons, responding to a New Democratic Party-led motion, voted unanimously to offer “full support” to the Canadian victims of thalidomide.

Universal Child Care

In 2006 the newly-elected Conservative government cancelled the national child care program initiated by the previous Liberal administration and replaced it with the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB; a taxable monthly benefit of $100 per child under six years of age). This, they argued, offered “choice” to Canadian parents.

Oxfam Canada

Like many organizations working in the area of international development, human rights and poverty alleviation, Oxfam Canada has found itself under increased scrutiny by the federal government.

Oxfam was required to file articles of continuance to comply with the federal Not for Profit Act before October 17, 2014, a general requirement for all federal not for profit corporations. While reviewing Oxfam's submission in the summer of 2014, the charities directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) told Oxfam that to keep its charitable status, Oxfam can work to “alleviate” poverty but not “prevent” it. CRA reportedly wrote that "Relieving poverty is charitable, but preventing it is not," and that, "Preventing poverty could mean providing for a class of beneficiaries that are not poor."

Canadian Citizenship (Bill C-24)

In June 2014, the Harper government amended the Citizenship Act, making citizenship in Canada harder to get and easier to lose. Key provisions of the amending legislation, which has already been approved by Parliament, will be coming into force at a later date. Under the new amendments, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may revoke the citizenship of Canadians convicted abroad of terrorism, treason, or spying, or who are or may have been part of an organization considered to be at war with Canada.

Interim Federal Health Program

21 February, 2016—The Government of Canada has announced that the Interim Federal Health Program, which provides medical services for refugee claimants, will be fully restored to its pre-2012 levels by April 1, 2016.

The Supreme Court of Canada

In May of 2014, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s integrity was called into question by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and by Justice Minister Peter McKay, over a phone call Justice McLachlin made to the Minister of Justice regarding the purported appointment of Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada.  

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice is being slowly starved of research capacity, lawyers and expertise. Successive budget and personnel cuts have hit the DOJ harder than many federal departments.