Motion To Dismiss - Charter Challenge to Failures to Address Homelessness and Inadequate Housing in Canada
On June 11, 2012, the Attorneys General for Canada and Ontario filed a motion to dismiss the charter challenge, without a hearing into any of the extensive evidence already filed by the applicants after many months of research.
Many groups sought to intervene in the hearing of the Motion to Dismiss before Lederer J. of the Superior Court. Standing was granted to two important coalitions of international human rights organizations and anti-poverty organizations, as well as a constitutional law centre. Unfortunately, intervener standing was denied to a coalition of people with disabilities and another of low income tenants and homeless women. Justice Lederer's disappointing decision granting the Motion to Dismiss was based on the somewhat astonishing finding that the Canadian Charter imposes no positive obligations on governments to take any measures whatsoever to protect life, security or equality of members of disadvantaged groups, including those who are homeless.. Justice Lederer's decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
On March 28, 2014 a hearing was held before the Chief Justice Designate, Feldman JA,, on 8 applications of coalitions and organizations to intervene. The Attorney Generals of Canada and Ontario opposed most of the intervention applications and also sought to prevent interveners from referring to documents from UN Human Rights bodies.
Associate Justice Feldman provided a respectful hearing of prospective interveners and of the AGs attempt to prevent references to concluding observations of UN human rights committees and other UN records. Justice Feldman granted intervener status to 8 coalitions and rejected the AGs attempts to prohibit references to international human rights documents. Her decision on interventions was released on March 31, 2014.
The hearing into the appeal was held before Justices Feldman, Strathy and Pardu on May 26-28th. The decision was released on December 1, 2014. The appeal was dismissed, with Justices Pardu and the new Chief Justic Strathy finding that claims by homeless people are non-justiciable if the cause of the violations of their right to life and equality relate to a range of policies and programs and require a housing strategy to remedy. So much for access to justice for poor people.
AT THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA
AT THE ONTARIO COURT OF APPEAL
Interveners' Facta (At Ontario Court of Appeal)
AGs Facta in Resonse to Interveners
Motions to Intervene
Facta on Motions to Intervene at Court of Appeal
AT THE SUPERIOR COURT
The hearing on the motion to dismiss was held on May 27th & 28th 2013 at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Attorney Generals Facta on Motion to Dismiss
Four Coalitions of Non-Governmental Organizations Seek Leave to Intervene
Four coalitions of public interveners representing groups with broad interests and expertise in the issues being considered in the Motion to Dismiss sought leave to intervene in the hearing of the Motion to Dismiss to address particular areas of interest and expertise. The four coalitions consisted of
1) Charter Comitee Coalition:
Charter Committee on Poverty Issues, Pivot Legal Society, Income Security Advocacy Centre, Justice for Girls
2) Acorn Coaliton:
ACORN Canada, The Federation of Metro Tenants Associations and Sistering
3) ARCH Disability Coalition:
ARCH Disability Law Centre ("ARCH"), The Dream Team, Canadian HIV/AIDs Legal Network ("Legal Network") and HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario ("HALCO")
4) Amnesty - ESCR-Net: Amnesty International Canada ("Amnesty Canada") and the International Network for Economic, Social, and & Cultural Rights ("ESCR-Net")
In addition, one academic organization, the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the University of Toronto, sought leave to intervene representing itself.
Attorney Generals of Canada and Ontario Oppose Allowing Interveners
Two Coalitions of Organizations and Asper Centre Granted Leave to Intervene. Disability Groups' Coalition and and Low Income Tenants' Organizations Denied Leave
Applicants and Interveners Facta Responding to the Attorney Generals`Motion to Dismiss
Attorney Generals Facta Replying to the Applicants and Interveners