Statement on the Passing of Nell Toussaint

Nell Toussaint

Nell Toussaint

The FCJ Refugee Centre community received with deep sadness the passing of Nell Toussaint, a giant defender of a basic human right: access to health care.

For more than 2 decades, she was fighting for the right to life and non-discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

FCJ Refugee Centre stands in solidarity with the family of Ms. Toussaint and all those who are facing challenges accessing health care.

Vulnerable populations with precarious migration are at high risk and are facing the same challenges Nell fought to eliminate.

At FCJ Refugee Centre we strongly believe everyone has the right to access basic health care and the government should take action instead of creating more barriers to essential services and rights for people with irregular immigration status.

As an organization supporting precarious populations, we are making a call to the government to implement treaties in good faith, including the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which Canada voluntarily ratified to give the UN Human Rights Committee jurisdiction to hear individual cases.

More information:

Amnesty International Joint Statement

The international human rights movement is saddened by the passing of groundbreaking human rights defender and champion Nell Toussaint on 9 January 2023.

Ms. Toussaint fought courageously for equal access to essential health care for people with irregular immigration status in Canada, herself having been denied access to public health benefits due to her irregular migrancy status, placing her life at risk and leading to serious long-term health consequences. When the Canadian justice system failed to recognize her claim to the right to life and non-discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Ms. Toussaint successfully brought her case to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee, achieving a precedent-setting decision in 2018 that the right to life under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) covers “essential health care to prevent a reasonably foreseeable risk that can result in loss of life.” The decision also stressed that these guarantees apply without discrimination against persons with irregular migrancy status. This was the first decision of its kind and represented a significant advance in the equal protection of migrants and access to essential health care under international law. Keep reading »

She went from undocumented to undeniable. Advocate whose fight against Canadian government reached the UN remembered as an ‘inspiration’ »
By Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star

Nell Toussaint clears legal hurdle for health care for migrants without status in Canada »
By Tracy Glynn, Canadian Health Coalition