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On May 26-28th, the Ontario Court of Appeal will hear arguments from lawyers representing 4 formely homeless or poorly housing Ontarians. Their case – the ‘Right to Housing Charter Challenge’ was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court in September of 2013.

They will argue that the Superior Court was wrong to deny homeless people the right to present their case before the Court in a full hearing. Eight groups of intervenors will argue in favour of allowing the appeal and denying the motion to strike, including: LEAF, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, the Colour of Poverty, in addition to several legal clinics: ARCH Disability Law Centre, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, Neighbourhood Legal Services, and the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario.

Stand in solidarity with the applicants and show your support for the right to housing:
You can attend the Appeal to show your support. It takes place in Courtroom 1 at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, 130 Queen St W, Toronto (northeast corner of University and Queen St.) The hearing begins at 10:30am each day and ends by 4:30pm. Wednesday may end by noon.

The ‘Right to Housing challenge’ argues that the governments of Canada and Ontario are in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law for their failure to address, and their contribution to, the growing crisis of homelessness and inadequate housing. Almost 10,000 pages of expert witness evidence were submitted to support this case on National Housing Day in the fall of 2011.

Come hear speakers from India, Scotland and the United States share success stories from the world-wide movement for the right to adequate housing!

International Strategies for the Right to Housing
Wednesday, October 23rd 7pm
SCC 115 – Oakham House
Ryerson University – 63 Gould Street
Toronto

Our speakers:

Fiona King is Senior Policy Officer at Shelter Scotland based in Edinburgh. Shelter Scotland helps over half a million people a year struggling with bad housing or homelessness and has been campaigning for housing rights for the past 40 years. In 2003, Scotland introduced legislation which will give people an enforceable legal right to housing.

Miloon Kothari is an outspoken critic of the countries and institutions that see the neo-liberal and military/security policies as a means to achieving democracy and human rights. Formerly UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on adequate housing (2000-2008), he is also the convener of the Habitat International Coalition’s Housing and Land Rights Network. Miloon lives in Delhi, India.

Rob Robinson is co-founder of the Take Back the Land National Movement and a member of the US Human Rights Network. He is a member of the Human Right to Housing program at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (US). Rob spent two and a half years homeless in Miami and ten months in a New York City homeless shelter and has been in the housing movement in New York City since 2007.

This event is free. The venue is accessible. Transit tokens will be provided by FMTA – please email fmta@torontotenants.org or call 416-646-1772 to confirm your transit needs.

The event is organized by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, the Federation of Metro Tenants Associations and the Right to Housing Coalition Ontario.

This is event is part of the Right to Housing Symposium, which includes the conference “The Road Home: The Right to Housing in Canada and Around the World”. For information on the conference see: http://www.acto.ca/en/training.html

Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/673206979363995/

From the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario

September 6, 2013

Homeless Canadians Denied Their Day in Court

Judge Accepts Government Motion to Quash Historic Case

 

(Toronto) Today, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that homeless and inadequately housed Ontarians should be denied a chance to have their landmark legal challenge heard.

“This case is about the fundamental principle of access to justice in our society,” said Tracy Heffernan, staff lawyer for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, who represents the applicants. “By denying them the chance to present their evidence, the Court suggests that poor people cannot rely on Charter protection.”

Joined by housing advocates from the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), the individuals filed the case in 2010, seeking a Court order requiring Federal and Provincial governments to implement a national housing strategy. They argued that Canada and Ontario have violated their rights under section 7 and section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by creating and maintaining conditions that lead to and sustain homelessness.

In May of this year, the governments of Canada and Ontario argued that the case should be struck down before any evidence was heard. Several interveners, including Amnesty International, underscored the importance of allowing the challenge to move forward. Today’s decision accepted government arguments that “it is plain and obvious that the Application cannot succeed” and dismissed the case.

“The decision reflects a narrow view of the Charter that seems to be applied when the poor seek judicial relief,” said Peter Rosenthal, lawyer for the applicants.

In his decision, Justice Lederer said that courts in Canada have no role in reviewing critical human rights issues such as “the basis on which people may be evicted from where they live and the treatment of those with psycho-social and intellectual disabilities”.

“This will come as a shock to those in Canada and the international community who have been assured that Canada recognizes access to adequate housing as a fundamental human right and that the most marginalized are protected under the Charter,” said Leilani Farha of CERA. “This decision, if allowed to stand, denies any protection under the Charter to the most vulnerable groups in Canada – those devastated by homelessness and inadequate housing. We welcome the opportunity to have these critical issues considered on appeal.”

To schedule interviews with spokespeople contact: Yutaka Dirks 416-597-5855 x.5243 or 1-866-245-4182 x.5243 email: dirksy[at]lao.on.ca http://www.acto.ca/en/cases/right-to-housing.html

Thank you to all of you who came for a few hours or a few days to watch the housing & homelessness human rights case unfold. We really appreciated your being there and it was good for the judge to see that people are interested and concerned about the outcome.

Fay Faraday and Peter Rosenthal did a brilliant job on behalf of the applicants and Molly Reynolds, Jackie Esmonde/Martha Jackman and Kent Roach/Cheryl Milne were all outstanding on behalf of the interveners. We just finished the 3 days of argument and it’s not clear which way the decision will go. Justice Lederer does not expect to have a decision until next fall.

There was a good article in the Toronto Star about the motion:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/05/26/landmark_homeless_charter_challenge_may_never_be_heard_if_government_wins_bid_to_quash_case.html

The hearing of the motion will take place at Superior Court – 361 University Ave, in Toronto, in courtroom 4-2 promptly at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27. Hope some of you can make it!

In the spring of 2010, several individuals and the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation filed a landmark legal challenge at the Ontario Superior Court. The ‘Right to Housing challenge’ argues that the governments of Canada and Ontario are in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for their failure to address, and their contribution to, the growing crisis of homelessness and inadequate housing. Almost 10,000 pages of expert witness evidence were submitted to support this case on National Housing Day in the fall of 2011.

The governments of Canada and Ontario have responded by seeking to have the case struck, before the evidence can be heard by a judge.

On Monday, May 27th and Tuesday, May 28th, Fay Faraday, Peter Rosenthal and the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario will argue that the case must proceed.

Amnesty International & the Economic Social and Cultural Rights Network, The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights and the Income Security Advocacy Centre, Charter Committee on Poverty Issues, Justice for Girls, & Pivot Legal Society are acting as intervenors in the case. They believe the challenge should be allowed to continue and will offer important information to the Court.

This case is historic: The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and the individual applicants – who have experienced poverty and homelessness, are asking for more than the simple right to shelter. They hope that the Court will declare that homelessness and inadequate housing violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the government must develop a national strategy to end homelessness.

Stand up for housing and human rights by attending this court appearance. We can send the message that adequate housing is a human right and that this vitally important legal challenge should move forward!

The motions will be heard on Monday, May 27th and Tuesday the 28th at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. We will update http://righttohousing.wordpress.com with the address and courtroom number when it is confirmed.

Legal materials from the case are available on the ACTO website

Thank you for supporting the right of everyone to adequate housing.

On December 10th – International Human Rights Day, join with the Right to Housing Coalition in sending a message to the Prime Minister: Create a rights-based national housing strategy! For physical postcards (English or French), which you can sign and send to the PM, or to your local MP, please contact us at: righttohousingcoalition@gmail.com

R2H imageR2H text

There are between 150,000 people homeless in Canada, according to the Canadian Senate report on poverty.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation identifies 1.5 million households in ‘core housing need’ in Canada.

A recent report by Stephen Gaetz of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network explains how it will cost us less money to end homelessness than to maintain it.

On May 4, 2012 members of the House of Commons from all parties voted to support a motion which recognized that Canada has obligations to fulfill the right to housing.

Canada is a signatory to the International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees the right to adequate housing.

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