Over the course of 2022–2023, the Federal Housing Advocate made it a priority to meet with people who are directly affected by inadequate housing and homelessness.
One of the Federal Housing Advocate’s duties is to consult with rights holders and civil society groups on the right to housing across Canada. Meeting with people, right where they live, allows the Advocate to build relationships directly with First Nations, Métis and Inuit and to have personal conversations with people experiencing inadequate housing and homelessness who may not always have access to virtual meeting technology.
These visits are key to informing the Advocate about the unique realities faced by people in different parts of the country. They offer opportunities to work with partners across all sectors to find meaningful solutions. Importantly, the Advocate’s engagement visits inform her reviews, research, reporting and recommendations to government duty bearers.
Last year, we heard from people across Canada about the systemic housing issues that are of serious concern in their cities, communities, and situations. The Advocate traveled to several communities to meet with people in person, including:
- British Columbia: Victoria, Prince George and Vancouver
- Nunavut and Nunatsiavut: Nain, Hopedale, Goose Bay, Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit
- Quebec: Montreal and Saint-Jérôme
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Thousands of people across the country are having their human right to adequate housing violated. Affordability for those who need it most is being eroded. Housing insecurity is worsening. People are at risk of falling through the growing cracks of the safety net into homelessness. Encampments are more visible than they have ever been.
Canada has work to do.
As people in Canada continue to feel the effects of the housing and homelessness crisis, we will continue to amplify their voices and experiences and push for solutions.
In a busy year of cross-country visits, three key highlights stand out: the Advocate’s visits in British Columbia, the North, and Quebec.
Core housing need Canada-wide
Almost 1.5 million, or 1 in 10, households were in core housing need in 2021. Core housing need is defined as living in an unsuitable, inadequate or unaffordable dwelling and not able to afford alternative housing in their community. (Statistics Canada)
The role of governments at all levels
The National Housing Strategy Act establishes housing as a human right for everyone in Canada. Governments at all levels have a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil this right. The federal government has a responsibility to lead the way. Provincial, territorial and municipal governments have jurisdiction over many housing and homelessness policies, laws, and programs. Municipalities play an important role in community planning, approval processes and responses to encampments.
So, across Canada, people must continue asserting their rights, demanding to be heard, and advocating for themselves, their neighbours, and their communities.
The Advocate encourages provincial and municipal policy makers to consider and take action on the observations and recommendations from her visits. Solving the housing crisis will mean mobilizing all available resources, prioritizing systemically disadvantaged groups, and fully implementing the human right to adequate housing.