The National Housing Strategy Act recognizes housing as a human right for everyone in Canada, and makes the progressive realization of this right the basis for all housing policy.
All orders of government, including provinces, territories, and municipalities, have an obligation to protect, respect, and fulfill the human right to housing within their areas of jurisdiction. They must implement effective measures, using the maximum of available resources and employing all appropriate means, to realize the right to adequate housing in the shortest possible time, giving priority to those in greatest need.
For provinces and territories, this means:
- Providing the housing, health, and social services people require to transition out of homelessness into permanent, accessible housing;
- Protecting tenants’ rights and preserve the affordability of rental housing by regulating rent increases; and
- Ensuring that income security programs provide sufficient benefits to enable people with disabilities, lone-parent families, and other low-income households to afford adequate housing and to live in peace, security, and dignity.
For municipalities, this means:
- Respecting the rights and dignity of people experiencing homelessness, including those in informal dwellings, unsheltered homelessness, and encampments, and ensuring that they have the services they require as a basic precondition to life and health, such as water, sanitation, and fire prevention;
- Reallocating investments away from policing as a means of responding to homelessness, mental health crises, and intimate partner violence, and instead funding community-based crisis response services and social infrastructure that foster community safety;
- Using planning and zoning powers to prioritize the development and preservation of housing that is affordable and accessible for those in greatest need.
In the coming year, the Federal Housing Advocate will continue to work with provinces, territories, and municipalities to support them in advancing the right to housing, and to ensure that the federal government is providing the resources and powers sub-national governments need in order to uphold their human rights obligations.
Annex B – The Federal Housing Advocate’s final recommendations.