About SPON

The SPON – Social Policy in Ontario – site is designed as a tool for public reporting about social programs in Ontario.

This site:

  • Aims to inform the public about current issues relating to social programs and policies in Ontario.
  • Spotlights current news articles that have relevance to social policy in Ontario
  • Informs the public of Canada’s obligations as a United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • Promotes informed critical analysis and public participation in the development, assessment and enhancement of social programs

Guiding Framework for Policy Sectors – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) was drafted in December 1966. It entered into force on January 3, 1976 with Canada ratifying the document on May 19, 1976. To date, 160 countries have acceded to this International Covenant.

The ICESCR is designed to protect the rights of all people. Ontario, in its policy-making decisions, is required to adhere to this Covenant. Article 28 of the ICESCR: “The provisions of the present Covenant shall extend to all parts of federal States without any limitations or exceptions.”

Since ratifying the ICESCR document, Canada has submitted four periodic reports. Canada submitted, in October 2004, its Fourth Report on the ICESCR to the UN. The Fourth Report covers the period from October 1994 to September 1999. Please see the sites listed below for further information.

The ICESCR identifies the following categories as indicators of “the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…” as stated in the Charter of the United Nations.

Article # Rights
2-5 Equality Rights
6-8 Conditions of Work and Vocational Training
9 Social Security
10 Family Protection and Child Development
11 Standard of Living
12 Physical and Mental Health
13-14 Education
15 Cultural Life and Scientific Progress

Additional information on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights can be found on the following websites:

United Nations

International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights:


Canadian Heritage:

Canadian Human Rights Commission:


Ontario Human Rights Commission:


Site Background

Initiated with the help of SSHRC funding, and support from the Ontario Social Development Council, the Online Guide to Social Policy in Ontario combines the resources of faculty and students at Laurentian University to generate a ‘macro’ view of the human service system. It is intended to facilitate access to information and analysis, and to encourage debate about the adequacy of social programs in Ontario.

This site aims to promote informed critical analysis, and public participation in the development, assessment, and enhancement of social programs.  This site is constantly under development. Your encouragement, in the form of constructive feedback, is most welcome.

Please email the SPON Editor if you have any questions or comments:

Duncan Matheson – dmatheson@laurentian.ca

Past Contributors

We wish to thank contributors to the original Online Guide to Social Policy in Ontario.

Contributor Project Role Duration Organization
Karen McCauley Project Researcher 2000 – 2005 Laurentian University
Henry Tumanowski Technical Coordinator 2000 – 2005 Laurentian University
Cassandra Jacobs Web Designer 2001 – 2004 Laurentian University
Michael Cushing Project Advisor 2002 – 2004 Ontario Social Development Council
Mary Schofield Project Researcher 2002 – 2003 Laurentian University
Sean Kennedy Web Technician 2000 – 2001 Ontario Social Development Council
Jonathan Pratt Web Designer 2000 – 2001 Ontario Social Development Council
Ted Hildebrandt System Consultant 1999 – 2000 Social Planning Network of Ontario
Simon Mielniczuk System Consultant 1999 – 2000 Ontario Social Development Council
Malcolm Shookner Project Coordinator 1999 – 2001 Ontario Social Development Council
Duncan Matheson Project Coordinator 1999 – Laurentian University