On 22 November 2017 the Government of Canada announced a National Housing Strategy based on its commitment to “progressively implement the right of every Canadian to access adequate housing.” Consultations held in recent months regarding the National Housing Strategy demonstrated a strong consensus that implementing legislation must explicitly recognize the right to housing as defined in international human rights law.
The following is a list of key commitments integral to the meaningful implementation of the right to housing. They were recently presented to Prime Minister Trudeau in an Open Letter signed by over 170 individuals and organizations across the country. You can add your name here.
We call on the federal government to ensure that Canada's National Housing Strategy legislation:
- affirms the recognition of the right to housing as a fundamental human right;
- implements accountability mechanisms through which those affected by homelessness or inadequate housing can hold governments accountable for the progressive realization of the right to housing;
- ensures that the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate and National Housing Council are independent, adequately resourced and given authority to make recommendations and require remedial action for compliance with the right to housing;
- provides for an adjudication body which includes both experts in human rights and persons with lived experience of homelessness or inadequate housing, to hold accessible hearings into systemic issues affecting the progressive realization of the right to housing and to recommend effective remedies;
- requires goals and timelines for the elimination of homelessness and access to adequate housing, in accordance with Canada’s obligations under international human rights law and commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals;
- provides resources and support for local lived-experienced-led monitoring of NHS programmes and for community initiatives to promote the right to adequate housing engaging all levels of government.
We believe the legislation implementing a rights-based national housing strategy provides an historic opportunity for the federal government to address, as a priority, a critical human rights issue at home and at the same time to provide leadership in human rights internationally. It is the first time that legislation implementing the right to housing has been contemplated in Canada, and it is critical that this be done right.