DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario


Coalition to Save the Court Challenges Program (CCP)

The Court Challenges Program of Canada:
An Important Access to Justice Institution

  • The Court Challenges Program of Canada (CCP) provides access to justice in language and equality rights constitutional test cases.

  • The Canadian Constitution establishes important constitutional rights, including the rights of official language minority groups to education and government services in their primary language and the rights of everyone to equality before and under the law and to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination. However, these rights are only paper guarantees unless the individuals and groups they are designed to protect have the means to access the courts in order to enforce their rights.

  • To be meaningful, rights have to be exercised. But many individuals and groups cannot access the courts without financial assistance. Without the CCP in place to provide this assistance, the interpretation and application of constitutional rights will only be available to those with deep pockets. Unequal access to constitutional rights adjudication must be a concern for all.

  • Canadian courts have long recognized that it would be "practically perverse" to expect governments to simultaneously enforce and challenge legislation. As a result, our justice system has recognized and accommodated public interest litigation to fill this void. The CCP plays an important role in facilitating public interest litigation in its mandate areas.

  • In a constitutional democracy like Canada, constitutional rights litigation is an essential part of democratic dialogue and the exercise of citizenship. Constitutional test cases examine the meaning of rights and their limits. As a society, we suffer when constitutional wrongs go unchecked.

  • The amounts provided by CCP are a fraction of the full cost of a constitutional test case. Individuals and groups also contribute to these cases and lawyers carry out the legal work on a reduced fee scale or in some cases for free. Yet, the CCP's contribution is vital - without it, these important rights would remain out of reach. Without CCP funding many worthy cases will never be launched and constitutional violations will continue unchecked.

  • In addition to funding cases, the CCP has made a significant contribution to the quality of these cases by developing resources to assist litigants and by taking other steps that help to build the capacity to undertake these complex, novel cases.

  • The Government of Canada has repeatedly informed United Nations treaty bodies that it funds the CCP in order to meet its obligation to ensure equal access to the courts and to provide effective remedies under international human rights treaties. These United Nations treaty bodies have recognized the Court Challenges Program as a vital means of implementing treaty rights, and have praised Canada for it.

  • Our justice system fails radically when individuals and groups whose constitutional rights are violated are denied access to justice. The CCP plays an important role in ensuring our justice system is fair.


Sign on to the Letter to the Prime Minister in Support of the Court Challenges Program

The Court Challenges Program: An Important Access to Justice Institution

The Court Challenges Program: An Effective and Accountable Institution

The History of the Court Challenges Program

The Coalition to Save Court Challenges is a broad coalition of concerned organizations and individuals
committed to ensuring the continuation of funding for the Court Challenges Program of Canada.
New organizations and individuals are signing onto our campaign every day.


Last Updated September 28, 2006

Website design courtesy of

Barbara Anello