C. Conclusion

Author:Robert J. Sharpe - Kent Roach
Profession:Court of Appeal for Ontario - Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Page 271

Section 7 gives rise to some of the most difficult issues arising under the Charter. The right to life, liberty, and security of the person invites the courts to engage a wide array of difficult moral and ethical issues. The Supreme Court’s insistence that the principles of fundamental justice have substantive and not merely procedural content signalled an activist role for the Court. Until recently, the Court proceeded cautiously in determining the ambit of section 7. However, the Court’s extension of section 7 to the guarantee of timely access to health-care services potentially opens the door to a host of contentious health-care and other issues formerly regarded as falling outside the limits of constitutional adjudication. It is a virtual certainty that, in the years to come, the courts will continue to be asked to resolve the conflict between the individual’s right to control his or her own body and the broader social interest in the protection of the sanctity of life. These issues have arisen in the past in relation to abortion and assisted suicide and are likely to arise in the future in connection with life-choice and health issues generated by the remarkable scientific advances in genetics. It is also likely that both the "haves" and the "have-nots" will continue to press for recognition of economic or social welfare rights. So far, the Court has shied away from interpreting the Charter to include economic rights, but equally it has refused unequivocally to preclude the protection of a right to basic rights of social assistance and housing.

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