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Hearing directly from people across Canada

A wave of new data: The first year of the Advocate’s submission tool

An important duty of the Federal Housing Advocate is to listen to and amplify the voices of those impacted by inadequate housing and homelessness. One of the ways we do this is by receiving submissions from people across Canada on systemic housing issues.

In May 2022, we launched our public submission tool and process so that individuals as well as organizations can submit relevant information directly to the Advocate.

The following snapshot is the first comprehensive look at what we gathered over the course of the first year of the submission tool.

How it works

Submissions can be made using an online tool that we built and tested with feedback from over 30 different community organizations, stakeholders and people with lived experience. Their input was invaluable in ensuring the form is responsive to a variety of needs, situations, and experiences.

People and organizations can also make a submission by email or mail, including by using a downloadable form in English and French.

Submissions are a critical way for the Advocate to hear directly about systemic housing issues in Canada. The Advocate does not intervene in individual cases. Instead, the Advocate will use these submissions to raise awareness on the most common and critical housing issues people are facing, make recommendations to improve Canada’s housing laws, policies and programs, and drive change on systemic housing issues.

Submissions are a key part of how the Advocate identifies systemic housing issues to review or refer to a review panel.

Helping people find help

We consulted with 30 community organizations across the country to help us develop the tool and provide support to people in their communities who need help making a submission to the Advocate.

The submission tool is also supported by toll-free phone assistance offered to people who need help using the tool.

We provided a series of online seminars on how to use the tool to front-line service providers that work with people experiencing housing inadequacy and homelessness. These service providers are an important advocacy link for people with lived experience to have their voices heard and effect meaningful change.

People requiring immediate assistance are referred to 2-1-1 so they can be connected to local support services. 2-1-1 is a national source of information for health and social services, including assistance for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. They provide people in crisis with personalized help navigating the complex network of programs and organizations quickly and easily. This collaboration will help ensure that people experiencing inadequate housing and homelessness get the immediate help they need.

Who we heard from

Since the launch in May 2022, 220 people who have experienced inadequate housing and homelessness made a submission to the Federal Housing Advocate about their situation. In addition, 36 organizations shared their experiences and observations.

We received submissions from most provinces and territories, but the majority came from Ontario (52 percent), British Columbia (20 percent) and Quebec (13 percent).

We acknowledge that access to technology and the scope of the Advocate’s office can be a challenge in remote regions and across Canada. This year, we built the foundation of an outreach strategy to grow our reach and engage with more people, both in person and using the submission tool.