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protection law. Canada’s international human rights obligations have informed the scope of Charter protection of refugee claimants and others seeking Canada’s protection.
Individuals granted refugee status can become permanent residents of Canada, can access
settlement services for newcomers and, in due course, can apply for Canadian citizenship.
Failed refugee claimants can: seek leave of the Federal Court of Canada for judicial review
of the Immigration and Refugee Board decision; request a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment; and apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, including that they would be at risk should they be removed from Canada.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND CHALLENGES IN THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Prosperity and quality of life
Canada has seen a decline in the numbers of persons living with low income over the past
decade. The overall rate of low income in Canada declined from 15.7 per cent of the population in 1996 to 10.5 per cent in 2006. This equates to approximately 3.4 million members of Canadian society, of which 760,000 were children, 2.4 million were working-age adults and 219,000 were seniors. Various programs and benefits instituted by governments to provide financial assistance to Canadians to enhance their economic well-being, some of which are described in the previous section of this report, have contributed to this trend.
However, governments in Canada recognize that efforts to reduce poverty must continue
and that some groups are at particular risk. Poverty reduction strategies and programs exist at all
levels of government and specifically target the most vulnerable groups, including people with disabilities, lone parents, recent immigrants, Aboriginal persons, the elderly, and children.
For example, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador adopted a Poverty
Reduction Strategy in 2006, which sets out specific goals and actions to reduce poverty. As part of its strategy, the Government has increased and indexed Income Support Rates. The Act to combat poverty and social exclusion, adopted by the Government of Québec in 2000, aims to combat poverty, reduce its effects on individuals and counter social exclusion. A five-year plan targeting a range of measures was also adopted in Quebec. Governments also provide access to
assistance programs, in the areas of workforce training, educational advancement and/or financial support, examples of which are outlined in Part III under Human well-being.
Housing and homelessness
The majority of Canada’s housing needs are met by the private market. Despite this
success, approximately 13.7 per cent of all Canadian households were in core housing need in 2001. Core housing standards define whether a household’s situation to determine whether its housing is adequate, suitable (uncrowded) and affordable.
Governments in Canada are working collaboratively, and with non-governmental
organizations, on measures to address the housing needs of all Canadians, including families
with children, and ensure that their residents have access to adequate housing through various
initiatives, for example: