Supreme Court Slams Door Shut on Canada’s Housing Crisis

TORONTO, June 25, 2015 – The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that a Charter challenge holding governments responsible for the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness will never be heard in Canadian courts.

With no evidence before them, two out of three judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a controversial lower court decision that issues of homelessness do not belong in the courtroom. The Supreme Court decision affirms this ruling and brings to a close the five year wait by homeless and precariously housed applicants to have 10,000 pages of evidence detailing the impact of homelessness on hundreds of thousands of people across the country presented to the court.

“The housing and homelessness crisis is directly related to policy decisions that governments make every day,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, one of sixteen organizations that intervened in the case. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that the troubling ways that those decisions impact and even violate the rights of some of the most marginalized communities in Canada remain unexamined.”

There continues to be a worsening housing crisis in Canada. Over the past five years, Ontario’s affordable housing waiting list has ballooned to 168,711 households, the Federal government has announced the revocation of 365,000 housing subsidies for low income households across the country, and the cost of keeping people homeless has continued to skyrocket. It is currently estimated at $7 billion annually.

“Housing should be a fundamental human right,” asserts Janice Arsenault, an applicant in the case. “It is shameful that disadvantaged people like me have been refused access to court on issues basic to our health, life and well-being. But if the courts think this is a political issue, it’s time for the government to sit up and do something.”

For more information on the Right to Housing Charter Challenge:
http://www.acto.ca/en/cases/right-to-housing.html

Official press release on today’s ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada:
Supreme Court Slams Door Shut on Canada’s Housing Crisis

Media coverage:
Supreme Court tosses out affordable housing case (iPolitics – Thursday, June 25, 2015)
Homeless Denied Day in Court (Toronto Star – Thursday, June 25, 2015)

Contact your MP and candidates on June 17th: Vote Housing For All!

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Join our collective voices across Canada on June 17th to call for the right to housing!

We have an affordable housing and homelessness crisis in Canada and the government is doing little to fix it.

On Wednesday, June 17th, groups across Canada will be holding different events and actions in their communities to say that we will vote housing for all! Send a strong message to all political parties for the upcoming federal elections that we want to see a commitment to housing as a human right.

Will you stand up and join this national day of action?
Call, visit or email your MP and election candidates on June 17th and tell them you will vote housing for all, and share with them our collective message!
Find your local MP’s contact information by entering your postal code here.
Contact political party leaders here.
Use this hashtag on social media: #VoteHousing4All

We invite you to take part and share our collective message:

  1. We want a national housing strategy now:

A national housing strategy is required to reduce and eventually end homelessness in Canada.

In Canada, we have 150,000 to 300,000 people who are visibly homeless, plus 450,000 to 900,000 people who are among the “hidden homeless.”

In 2009, Miloon Kothari, the UN Special Rapporteur on Housing, called the housing and homelessness crisis in Canada a “national emergency.” Yet, Canada remains the only G8 nation in the world without a national housing strategy, and the federal government continues to cut funding to housing and homelessness programs.

We are calling for the government to ensure that everyone has adequate housing by adopting a national housing strategy, and that this strategy must be developed in consultation with groups across Canada.

  1. We want to see a re-investment in affordable housing:

We already have a housing and homelessness crisis but it may soon get even worse.

Social housing is the safety net that houses those who might otherwise risk homelessness. In Canada, 365,000 low income households are at risk of losing their homes because the Federal government refuses to renew subsidies for social housing.

Meanwhile, the waiting list for social housing continues to grow: there are over 168,000 households on the waiting list in Ontario alone. Without federal government support, many providers of social housing will have to raise rents to market levels or sell their affordable units to make ends meet. Tenants who can’t pay the higher price will face economic eviction.

We are calling for the government to re-invest in social housing by renewing the federal subsidies, and to dedicate adequate funding to building new affordable housing.

 

June 17th National Day of Action: Vote Housing for All!

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Join this National Day of Action to make the call for a right to housing now! Vote Housing for All!

On Wednesday, June 17th, groups across Canada will be holding different events and actions in their communities, to send a strong message to all of the parties for the upcoming federal elections. We invite you to take part and share our message:

We will vote housing for all!

1. We want a national housing strategy now
2. We want to see a commitment to housing as a human right
3. We want to see a re-investment in affordable housing, not less than $2 billion per year of dedicated federal funding

Will you stand up and join this national day of action?
Organize an event or action in your community! It can be big or small – together, we can make a collective impact! Stay in touch for shared tools and resources you can use (website coming soon!), and let us know about your plans righttohousingcoalition@gmail.com

Court Divided on Charter Right to Housing, Claimants Will Appeal


(Photo source: Toronto Star)

For Immediate Release:
Monday, December 1, 2014

Court Divided on Charter Right to Housing, Claimants Will Appeal

(Toronto) – Today, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a divided ruling to homeless and inadequately housed Canadians in a landmark Charter challenge against the federal and provincial governments. In a strong dissent, Justice Kathryn Feldman, the most experienced judge on the panel, found that the application raises serious Charter claims of significant public importance.

“It was an error of law to strike this claim at the pleadings stage. This application. . . has been brought forth by counsel on behalf of a large, marginalized, vulnerable and disadvantaged group. . . It raises issues that are basic to their life and well-being. It is supported by a number of credible intervening institutions with considerable expertise in Charter jurisprudence and analysis. The appellants put together a significant record to support their application. That record should be put before the court,” Justice Feldman stated in the decision.

“It is distressing that the province has made elimination of homelessness a core part of their Poverty Reduction Strategy, yet continue to oppose this legal case rather than advocate for a national housing strategy,” asserts Avvy Go from Colour of Poverty/Colour of Change Network, one of eight intervenor groups that argued for the importance of allowing the case to proceed during the Ontario Court of Appeal hearing in May. Other intervening groups included Amnesty International, Ontario Human Rights Commission, LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund), and several legal clinics.

In 2010, The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) and four individual applicants filed the case, seeking a court order requiring the provincial and federal governments to implement provincial and national housing strategies. They argued that Canada and Ontario have violated their rights under Sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Physicians, academics and international human rights experts provided almost 10,000 pages of evidence to support the claim, but a motion to strike would prevent any of this evidence from being heard in court.

“Housing is a fundamental human right,” asserts Janice Arsenault, one of the applicants in the case. “I’m involved in this case not just for myself. I want to fight for this right for my family, and for everyone in Canada.”

Homelessness in Canada has reached crisis levels, yet Canada remains the only G8 country without a national housing strategy. The applicants will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

To view the written court decision and more information on the Right to Housing Charter Challenge: http://www.acto.ca/en/cases/right-to-housing/case-update-whats-happening-now.html

Official press release on today’s ruling from the Ontario Court of Appeal:
Version française: Face à une décision partagée sur le droit constitutionnel au logement, les requérants iront en appel
English version: Court Divided on Charter Right to Housing, Claimants Will Appeal

Media coverage:
No place for courts in affordable housing fight, Ontario’s top court rules (Global News and other major media outlets, via Canadian Press – Monday, December 1, 2014)
Housing for all not a right, Court of Appeal rules in rejecting Charter challenge (Toronto Star – Monday, December 1, 2014)

National Day of Action – Events Across Canada

These events and actions are happening across the country on November 21st as part of a national day of action calling for a national housing strategy and a stop to the cuts now!
Can’t be there in person? You can send a message to your MP and join our call!
On social media? Nov 21st hashtag: #right2housing (et #logementundroit en français)

Montreal & Ottawa:

Action organized by FRAPRU:
Harper, Couillard… Le logement est un droit: On déménage devant chez vous!
Time: 1:30pm-2:30pm
Locations:
À Ottawa: sur la rue Wellington, entre les rues Elgin et Metcalf.
À St-Félicien: devant le 501-1209, boul. du Sacré-Coeur.
For more details, please visit this page
View press release here
FRAPRU will be using #logementundroit hashtag on social media

Toronto:

Rally organized by the Right to Housing (R2H) Coalition:
Time: 12pm-1pm
Location: Yonge-Dundas Square
For more details, please visit this page
View event poster here
View press release here
For more information about the rally and R2H Coalition: righttohousingcoalition@gmail.com

Coming from Jane/Finch/Steeles/York University area? Free shuttle bus, pick-up at 11am outside of 35 Shoreham Dr. (see map here – just east of Jane, south of Steeles). Look for the yellow school bus! Return trip after the forum, pick-up at 5:15pm at the top of James St. (next to the church).

Banners will also be dropped from the building fronts of several downtown social service organizations – including Street Health, Fred Victor Centre, and Casey House – to send a message to the Federal government that we need a national housing strategy now!
For more information about the banner drop:
lynda@streethealth.ca

Thunder Bay:

Rally organized by The Housing and Homelessness Coalition and Poverty Free Thunder Bay:
Time: 12:00 pm
Location: McGillivary Square, in front of City Hall
For more information:      
Anne Ostrom – Co-Chair, Housing and Homelessness Coalition
(807) 625-2942 / anneostrom@thunderbay.ca

Winnipeg:

Call to Action organized by Winnipeg Right to Housing Coalition:
Sarah Cooper, PhD Student at the University of Illinois – Chicago will present research on:
What the Expiring Social Housing Operating Agreements mean for Manitoba
A Panel of community and political representatives will respond to the paper, followed by audience discussion.
TIme: 1:30-3:00pm
Location: West End Commons (641 St. Matthews Avenue)
View event poster here
For more information:
coordinator@righttohousing.ca

Saskatoon:

For information on the leafleting/postering/social media action, please contact Saskatoon Anti Poverty Coalition and Passion for Action Against Homelessness:
antipoverty@sasktel.net

Edmonton:

Rally organized by the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness:
Time: 12:15pm
Location:
Centennial Plaza (on the south side of the Milner Library)
See more details here
View event poster here

Vancouver:

For information, please contact Social Housing Alliance:
info@socialhousingbc.com

Whitehorse:

Action organized by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition:
Bring a cardboard box and a marker if you can – we’ll build houses in solidarity with people across the country!
Time: 12:00pm
Location: Yukon Legislature
View event poster here
For more information:
(867) 334-9317 / yukonantipovertycoalition@gmail.com

Shout out to the (social media) world that HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!

Wherever you are across the country, whether you are on the streets with us, in your office or in your home, be part of our social media campaign for National Housing Day – use the hashtag #right2housing on Nov 21st to join the collective call to say HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT! Join our collective voice on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram! Every voice counts!

Also, please click through this link below and support our social media flash mob on Thunderclap so our message will be heard loud and clear across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr on Nov 21st at noon!
Join the flash mob here: http://thndr.it/1q3zgza

Join us on November 21st for a National Housing Day Rally and Right to Housing Forum!

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Communities across Canada will be marking National Housing Day with events to promote and raise awareness on the right to housing. Join the Right to Housing Coalition and the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario on November 21, 2014 in Toronto for a National Housing Day Rally and Right to Housing Forum!

This event is FREE!
To register online: https://acto-right2housing-forum2014.eventbrite.ca
If you need assistance with registration, call 416-597-5855 or toll free 1-866-245-4182


Rally and Forum Schedule:

12:00pm-1:00pm:
National Housing Day Rally at Yonge-Dundas Square: Housing is a human right!
(See rally event page here)

2:00pm-5:00pm:
Right to Housing Forum at Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square behind the Eaton Centre (wheelchair accessible) – moderated by: Angela Robertson, Executive Director, Central Toronto Community Health Centres

Panel 1 (2:00-3:00): Is Housing First the solution to homelessness in Canada?

Some say yes. Some say maybe. And some say we must analyze Housing First through a gendered, racialized, rights based lens.
Professor Stephen Gaetz, York University/Canadian Homelessness Research Network, and Professor Janet Mosher, Osgoode Hall Law School, will discuss and debate the Housing First approach.

Panel 2 (3:15-5:00): The Right to Housing in Canada

There are many ways to build the right to housing in Canada. The panelists will discuss their advocacy work in the courts and in their communities.

• DJ Larkin, Pivot Legal Society (Vancouver), is counsel on a case concerning access to safe shelter as a basic human right.
• Phillip Dufresne, member of the Dream Team (Toronto), will discuss how they filed a human rights complaint against five municipalities in Ontario for their discriminatory by-laws… and won.
• Émilie Joly, Community Organizer at FRAPRU (Quebec-wide tenant organization), will talk about FRAPRU’s successes in organizing tenants and how to build this nationwide.
• Tracy Heffernan, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and co-counsel on the Right to Housing Charter challenge will discuss next steps in the R2H litigation and campaign.

Join us on Facebook and help spread the word by inviting your FB friends:
https://www.facebook.com/events/340129336160461


You can download (and print!) pdf versions of the flyer here:
poster (8.5″ x 11″)
quarter-sized flyers (change the settings to print 4 to a page before printing)