The National Housing Council will play an important role in accountability and oversight of the Federal government’s housing policy, recommending improvements to the National Housing Strategy, advancing the progressive realization of the right to housing and, importantly, providing a venue for people living in housing need and homelessness to have a voice in the policy that affects them. Read Tim’s statement below.
Today’s National Housing Council announcement is a critical step toward ending homelessness, addressing Canada’s housing crisis and advancing the progressive realization of the right to housing in Canada. I am honoured to be appointed Co-Chair of the Council with Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation CEO Evan Siddall.
Launching the National Housing Council on National Housing Day, during a global pandemic that poses life threatening risk to people experiencing homelessness and is disproportionately impacting people living in poverty and crowded and/or unaffordable housing, is deeply symbolic and a stark reminder of the urgency to solving Canada’s housing crisis.
National Housing Day began in 1998 after the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee declared homelessness to be a national disaster. Homelessness in Canada remains a national disaster and it demands our urgent and immediate attention.
The National Housing Council is officially mandated to:
- promote participation and inclusion in the development of housing policy,
- contribute to the success of the National Housing Strategy ,
- provide advice to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on how to improve housing outcomes,
- offer advice on the effectiveness of the National Housing Strategy,
- support the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing, as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The creation of the National Housing Council is an important step in a long fight for the right to housing in Canada. Since Canada ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1976, advocates, civil society organizations, people with lived experience of homelessness and inadequate housing have fought for the right to housing to be realized in Canada.
When the federal government adopted the National Housing Strategy Act in June 2019 it made the right to housing law in Canada and created the National Housing Council as a key human rights oversight body.
Canada’s National Housing Strategy, the National Housing Strategy Act and the Council are the result of decades of advocacy to convince Canada to respond to our country’s obvious and deadly housing crisis. The government has responded to those calls and now the Council has a duty to the legacy of those advocates, and most importantly to people living in housing need and homelessness, to apply that same tenacity, energy and urgency to pushing the federal government to make good on its promises and see that the right to housing in Canada is fully realized.
On the National Housing Council, I’m honoured to join a diverse, impressive and highly qualified group of experts from across Canada. The Council must, however, be a venue for people living in housing need and homelessness to have a voice in the policy that affects them. To do this, I believe more people with lived of experience of homelessness need to be on the council. To support the progressive realization of right to housing and the Council’s mandate to hold public hearings into systemic issues if requested by the Housing Advocate, the Council also need to add technical housing rights expertise.
I commit to working with my Council colleagues and the government to ensure these important voices are added and we begin work quickly on the Council’s mandate.
Thank you to Minister Ahmed Hussen for the opportunity to serve on the National Housing Council and I want to acknowledge the guts it takes for a Minister and a government to create an independent accountability body like the Council that will necessarily turn a constructive but critical eye to federal policy and programs. Thank you as well to Evan Siddall and the good people at the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation for their support of the Council and their work to ensure all Canadians have a place to call home.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to tell people living in housing need and homelessness that you have my word, as a member of the Council and as CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, I will do everything I can to make sure your voices are elevated to the halls of power in Canada and we will do everything we can, as fast as we can, to end homelessness in Canada and ensure the right to housing is realized for all.
President & CEO
Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness