Recognize the Right to Housing in Law

Canadians have been urging their governments to recognize housing as a human right for over a decade. Last year, the federal government introduced Canada’s National Housing Strategy and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that “housing rights are human rights”. Now public consultations on the National Housing Strategy’s human rights-based approach to housing are underway until June 2018. The Government of Canada wants to hear what you have to say about the key elements of a human rights-based approach to housing, the proposed approach to new legislation, and new concepts to be explored.

We believe that the federal government MUST recognize that housing is a human right in law. Canada signed international agreements that must be upheld. We need clear remedies to hold our government accountable to their promise. Without recognition of the right to housing in law, a human-rights based approach to housing is merely symbolic.

Click on this link to send an email to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and tell them to recognize housing as a right in law.

Right to Housing Forum

On April 30, 2018, we organized the Right to Housing Forum. Panelists discussed solutions to Ontario’s affordable rental housing crisis and what the right to housing should look like in Canada – if you couldn’t make it in person, watch the forum here:


The Government of Canada is currently in the midst of a national consultation for their human rights-based approach to housing. Consultations will end on June 1, 2018. We encourage everyone to engage in this process through written submissions.

Here are two resources to help you with your submission:

1 – ACTO’s ideas paper on the human rights-based approach: Questions on the Way to the Right to Housing.

2 – Emily Paradis, Research Consultant at the University of Toronto and Bruce Porter, the Executive Director of the Social Rights Advocacy Centre have prepared a summary paper that sets out key elements for implementing the right to housing: Implementing the Human Right to Housing in Canada’s National Housing Strategy.

Advertisements

Canada responds to years of pressure from community advocates by recognizing housing as a human right

IMG_20171122_125301

ACTO and the Right to Housing Coalition applaud recognition of right to housing in National Housing Strategy

November 24, 2017 (TORONTO) — For over seven years, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and the Right to Housing Coalition – alongside housing advocates from across the country, including those with lived experience of homelessness – have pressed for a National Housing Strategy and the recognition in law of the right to housing. Those demands have finally been heard by the federal government in their announcement of a National Housing Strategy.

“The courts repeatedly blocked our efforts to have these rights recognized under existing laws. But the community organizing on the ground sent a loud message to the government that enough is enough,” says ACTO lawyer Tracy Heffernan, one of the legal counsel in the historic Charter challenge. “The fight isn’t over just yet. Until new legislation is adopted by Parliament, we have to keep up the pressure to ensure that our government stays true to their promise of legally recognizing that housing is a human right.”

From 2010 to 2015, the Right to Housing Coalition worked tirelessly to have the voices of those impacted by the affordable housing crisis heard by the courts through the Charter case called Tanudajaja vs. Canada. 10,000 pages of evidence never heard by the court demonstrated:

Five applicants bravely shared their life stories of struggling with inadequate housing and homelessness, while many social justice organizations intervened in the case to echo the call for the right to housing, backed up by a National Housing Strategy.

In 2016, ACTO, the Right to Housing Coalition and others went to Geneva to make the case before the United Nations’ Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) that people were suffering from governments’ broken promises and to push for the right to housing in Canada.

Details of the National Housing Strategy unclear

While we celebrate the recognition of the right to housing and the creation of the first National Housing Strategy, we are also waiting for more details of how it will be implemented, to verify that it actually meets the needs of those living on lower incomes in Canada. The affordable housing crisis most adversely impacts hundreds of thousands of people living on lower incomes and fighting to keep a roof over their heads. These people cannot wait several years for the bulk of the money to be spent.

“Committing to a national strategy is an important step toward ending the affordable housing crisis, but a generation has gone by without meaningful spending and the time is now to invest in building communities,” says Kenneth Hale, the Director of Advocacy and Legal Services at ACTO. “We must continue to advocate for the rights of the most marginalized members of our society and work in partnership with people whose lives are being thrown off course by a lack of housing opportunities.”

See official press release here.

Join us in delivering the UN report on Canada’s human rights record to the Finance Minister!

DSCN4544(photo credit: John Bonnar)

We sent two delegates to Geneva in February to address the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights during its review of Canada. The UN committee’s concluding observations will be released to the Canadian government on Monday, March 7th at 12:00pm ET, and we plan to bring attention to this! Join us that day at 2:00pm as we deliver the UN report to the Finance Minister, two weeks ahead of the federal budget! Help us show the government that housing is a human right!

If you can’t make it in person, you can still make your voice heard, wherever you live! Call, email or visit your local MP that day to tell them you want them to act on the recommendations in the UN report on Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Ask them what they plan to do about Canada’s poor track record on the housing and homelessness crisis. You can locate the contact information for your local MP by entering your postal code here.

What: We will be “delivering” the UN report to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and have speakers who will give statements to the media and answer media questions.

Who: Speakers representing the Right to Housing Coalition, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, Working for Change, Chiefs of OntarioODSP Action Coalition, and Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation. Everyone joining us on the street can help us deliver the report!

When: Monday, March 7th from 2:00-2:30pm

Where: Outside on the sidewalk in front of Bill Morneau’s office, 430 Parliament St. (between Gerrard and Carleton), Toronto

Why: Canada has been ignoring the fact that it signed this international human rights covenant for far too long. After the last UN review in 2006, the CESCR slammed Canada on its poor track record, noting that most of its recommendations from previous reviews in 1993 and 1998 had not been implemented, and referring to the inadequate housing and homelessness crisis as a “national emergency.” Canada’s new Liberal government promises to deliver “real change” but what we heard from the government’s representatives during this year’s review was sadly business as usual. We will not accept business as usual because everyone who lives in Canada deserves the right to housing! Real change will only happen if Canadians speak up and tell the government that it’s time to comply with our international human rights obligations. Public pressure and media attention on the issue will make it hard for Canada to ignore the UN report again – so join us in making sure our message is heard!

Read our media advisory here.