Human Rights Must Guide Canada’s Housing Strategy

For immediate release

OTTAWA (28 June 2016) – As federal, provincial and territorial housing ministers gather in Victoria, BC for the Ministers’ Forum On Housing, they will be doing so in the shadow of a housing and homelessness crisis.

Super Intent City, a community occupied by over 100 homeless individuals from Victoria and the surrounding areas, is a visible sign that current government housing programs aren’t working. The community represents the broader rights abuses that homeless people face on a daily basis including discrimination and a lack of adequate housing. Each year over 235,000 people are homeless across Canada, while an estimated 3 million households are precariously housed.

Canada Without Poverty (CWP) joins local and national partners in calling on all levels of governments to uphold and respect Canada’s international human rights obligations and protect the right to housing.

Recent announcements by the federal government indicate that a national housing strategy is in the pipeline, but no further details have been given. It is essential that those impacted by inadequate housing and homelessness are consulted, and that a human rights approach guides the process. With the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development on the horizon in October, Canada has the opportunity to show the international community that it is the human rights leader it claims to be.

In the most recent review of Canada by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Canada was criticized for its lack of rights-based measures to address homelessness. A key recommendation by the Committee was for Canada, “to develop and effectively implement a human-rights based national strategy on housing and ensure that all provincial and territorial housing strategies are aligned with the national strategy.”

Leilani Farha, CWP’s Executive Director and UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing stated, “Minister Dulcos and his provincial/territorial counterparts have a choice to make: uphold Canada’s international human rights obligations and address the structural causes of homelessness or risk creating a strategy that does little to fix the problem. Super InTent City is a blatant reminder that government failure to protect human rights causes homelessness. ”


For more information:
James Armbruster
Communication and Development Coordinator