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.

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

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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.

National Housing Day in Toronto: The People’s Assembly on the Right to Housing

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Join the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and the Right to Housing Coalition in Toronto for a march and People’s Assembly on Friday November 20th to mark National Housing Day!‎

“We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.” – Augusto Boal

If you were in charge, what would you change?

On June 25th, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that a Charter challenge holding governments responsible for the crisis in affordable housing and homelessness will never be heard in Canadian courts. The courts refuse to hear the people, but the people will be heard! We will continue to take to the streets until we have a national housing strategy. The new Liberal government campaigned with a promise to fix our affordable housing crisis and we will hold them to this. We are calling for the government to ensure that everyone has the right to housing.  Join the People’s Assembly on the Right to Housing to help imagine what a national housing strategy will look like.

To register: https://nationalhousingday2015.eventbrite.ca
(If you need assistance with registration, call 416-597-5855 or toll free 1-866-245-4182)

11:00am – March!
Location: meet outside the Superior Court of Justice, 361 University Ave. (north of Queen St. W)

12:30pm–3:30pm – People’s Assembly!
Location: Church of the Holy Trinity, 10 Trinity Square (behind Eaton Centre)
Rise up, speak up! Be a “spect-actor” in our legislative theatre chambers and join our collective voices for an end to the affordable housing and homelessness crisis!
Watch a short play based on local community members’ lived experiences of homelessness and housing struggles. Act onstage to offer alternative solutions to this systemic problem – on the individual, institutional and government levels. Propose policy ideas which will be heard by housing advocates, policymakers, legislators and others witnessing the process. Vote on the laws you want to see passed.
An interactive performance/community dialogue performed and facilitated by Branch Out Theatre.

Free – all welcome! Wheelchair accessible. ASL interpretation provided.
A light, hot lunch will be served at Church of the Holy Trinity at 12:00pm.
This event is part of a national day of action.

Help us share the event on Facebook!: https://www.facebook.com/events/420537858147673/