Joint Submission: CESCR Periodic Review of Canada

CESCR Submission

Canada: Drug policy and economic, social, and cultural rights

Joint Submission: CESCR Periodic Review

February 2016

This joint submission was developed with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (CHLN) on the occasion of the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights periodic review of Canada's implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

In this submission the HRDP and CHLN map out key tensions between Canada's current national drug strategy and the full and effective realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.

During the interactive dialogue with Canada in February 2016, a member of the Committee engaged Canada on questions related to their drug policy and plans for rights-based reform.

The Committee issued in their Concluding Observations the following Statement on Canada's obligations under the Covenant in relation to drug policy:

Right to health

49. The Committee is concerned that undocumented immigrants in the State party are denied access to health care. The Committee is also concerned that drug users face barriers in access to health-care services due to stigma and the punitive approach of the 2007 National Anti-Drug Strategy, which has had negative consequences on the health of drug users and discriminatory effects on disadvantaged and marginalized groups and individuals, such as African-Canadians, indigenous peoples and women (art. 12).

50. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure access to the Interim Federal Health Program without discrimination based on immigration status, in line with the Human Rights Committee’s recommendation of 2015 (see CCPR/C/CAN/CO/6, para. 12). The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure that its national drug law and the National Anti-Drug Strategy incorporate a public-health approach and be harm-reduction-based, and take effective measures to facilitate access to appropriate health care, psychological support services and rehabilitation for drug users. 

The full report is available here: