The federal government is taking a big step forward on legislating housing rights. The CAEH is joining housing rights advocates in seeking amendments to strengthen key accountability mechanisms consistent with international standards and to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples
In Bill C-97 (Budget Implementation Act, 2019) tabled Monday, April 8, Canada took a major step forward to enshrining the right to housing in federal legislation for the first time in its history. The National Housing Strategy Act reflects many of the recommendations made by housing rights advocates. However, more needs to be done to ensure that key accountability mechanisms are included in the legislation.
The government got a lot right in the tabled Act including a commitment to the progressive realization of the right to housing consistent with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the creation of an independent Housing Advocate, the creation of a Housing Council with explicit inclusion of people with lived experience of homelessness and inadequate housing, clear and extensive involvement of affected communities.
However, the CAEH along with other housing advocates, will be seeking amendments to improve the bill.
As it’s written, the proposed National Housing Strategy Act lacks important elements of a workable, rights-based accountability framework that would ensure that the housing strategy is effective and bring Canada in line with international standards, including:
- Establishing a monitoring role for the Housing Council, so that it not only provides advice, but tracks progress on the goals of the National Housing Strategy.
- Empowering the Housing Advocate to assess compliance with the stated commitment to the progressive realization of the right to housing, including through federal investments and policies, and to make recommendations which the government can’t ignore.
- A procedure for the Housing Advocate to refer important systemic issues to the Human Rights Tribunal for public hearings, ensuring affected groups have a voice.
- Specifying the requirement for housing strategies to identify and address the distinctive barriers, needs and rights of Indigenous peoples, including urban Indigenous Peoples consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The CAEH is joined by 1,100 organizations and individuals from across Canada who have added their names to an open letter sent to Prime Minister Trudeau last August, calling for a legislated right to housing in Canada. To see that letter and for more information on the Right to Housing please visit housingrights.ca.
We will be working with government and Parliamentarians over the next few weeks to seek amendments to the proposed National Housing Strategy Act, as set out in Bill C-97, to ensure we get the right to housing right.
We have also prepared a Right to Housing Backgrounder & FAQ as a helpful reminder on how far we’ve come to obtain the right to housing in Canada and to answer any questions on its significance. READ MORE HERE.