We are a community of people advocating for the right to housing to be included in the National Housing Strategy legislation that is being drafted for autumn, 2018.
Together, we are seeking to provide input on legislation that recognizes and progressively realizes the right to housing to be included in the National Housing Strategy in autumn, 2018 and to be passed before the next federal election in October, 2019.
Over the past year, the Canadian Morgage and Housing Commision (CMHC) has conducted consultations and received submissions on what a “rights-based approach” to the National Housing Strategy should consist of. There was a strong consensus from civil society organizations at these consultations that a rights-based National Housing Strategy must explicitly recognize the right to adequate housing as defined in international law.
Our proposals would give mandates to the Housing Advocate, the Housing Council and community initiatives that are part of the promised National Housing Strategy to promote the “progressively realization of the right to housing.” That is Canada’s firm obligation under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and it was affirmed in the government’s November 22nd National Housing Strategy. Our proposals would ensure that systemic issues affecting the right to housing are subject to review, that those affected by homelessness and inadequate housing could be heard on systemic issues and that governments would be required to consider and respond to recommendations for remedial measures. Critical to all of these mechanisms, however, is the central recognition of the right to housing.
The legislation being developed over the next few months to implement a “rights-based” housing strategy is an historic opportunity for Canada to join the majority of other countries in recognizing housing as a fundamental human right and to ensure that homelessness is eliminated within a reasonable period of time. 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. The opportunity may be lost if we don’t make it clear to the government that a rights-based housing strategy must recognize the right to housing and must provide means through which those affected can hold governments accountable to their obligations.