What is the right to housing?

The United Nations (UN) defines the right to housing as all people having the “right to live somewhere in security, peace, and dignity.” Members of the UN, such as Canada, are required to implement reasonable policies and programs to make sure everyone in their country has access to affordable and adequate housing.

It is important that vulnerable groups and those with the greatest need for housing are prioritized. Especially in the context of Canadian history, our Indigenous population’s rights should be protected.

What is the Government of Canada doing to uphold their responsibility to the UN and people living in Canada?

In 2018, The Government of Canada launched a public consultation on housing as a Human Right. Raising the Roof, among many other housing rights advocates, submitted recommendations for new legislation.

The Government of Canada’s motion to release the National Housing Strategy Act in Bill C-97 on April 8th, 2019 took a major step toward legislating the right to housing for the first time in its history.

We are so excited to see that this Act reflects the recommendations made by housing rights advocates across Canada, using rights-based language and understanding the importance of adequate housing for everyone in Canada. However, there is always room for improvement, and we want to make sure the legislation of the right to housing is done right!

Why does the National Housing Strategy Act need improvement?

Raising the Roof believes that the way the legislation has been drafted could add some aspects that would help the government better implement a rights-based approach. Specifically, the legislation needs measures added to monitor, promote, and hold the right people accountable for their actions under the housing policy.

The National Housing Strategy Act also needs to be more in line with the UN’s definition of the right to adequate housing. Currently, it does not set up the rights-based steps that are necessary for the Government’s commitment to the right to housing as an effective way to address the crisis of homelessness and housing affordability in Canada.

What is Raising the Roof doing to help with Improvements to the National Housing Strategy Act?

Following Maytree’s lead on this initiative, we are asking our Member of Parliament (MP) to move to make changes to the National Housing Strategy Act so that it accomplishes what the government is trying to do.

Raising the Roof has sent an open letter (created by Maytree) to our MP, Ministers Duclos and Morneau, and Prime Minister Trudeau with a mark-up including suggested changes to the National Housing Strategy Act created by The Right to Housing Coalition of Canada.

What can you do?

If you want to help impact history by supporting the strong development of Canada’s National Housing Strategy Act, you can do the following:

  1. Find your local MP here by searching with your postal code.
  2. Download the open letter and legislation mark-up here.
  3. Address the letter to your MP and sign it.
  4. Mail your letter with the mark-up attached! E-mail works too.
  5. Share this post and encourage your friends and family to follow these steps too.
  6. Let us know you’ve signed and shared this letter by tagging us at @RaisingtheRoof and @legislater2h in your post with the hashtag #right2housing.

Join ACORN Canada, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, Alyssa Brierley from CERA (Center for Equality Rights in Accommodation), A Way Home Canada, Elisa Traficante, Pamela Sariyannis… and many others! Add your name to the list and maximize your impact by sending your letter to your MP!