The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–The federal minister in charge of a decade-long housing strategy says the plan will be based on a “right to housing” as he faces criticism the Liberals are watering down the pledge.
Characterizing housing as a human right was meant to provide recourse–either through tribunals or the courts–to anyone wrongfully denied an apartment or home for reasons such as ethnicity, religion, or gender identity.
It was also to put pressure on governments to maintain their housing commitments and ensure a future federal government couldn’t easily cancel the 10-year, multibillion-dollar national housing strategy unveiled in November.
The Liberal government’s first thoughts on the rights legislation are contained in a recently released discussion paper that coincided with the start of consultations.
The NDP accuse the Liberals of touting the right to housing as “an empty slogan,” saying the document shows the government doesn’t intend to follow through fully on the pledge.
Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says the Liberal plan rests on a human-rights based approach.
“These investments (will) reduce homelessness and take 500,000 Canadians out of housing that is either unaffordable or is inadequate, and that will be based on the right to housing,” Duclos said yesterday in the House of Commons.
The four pillars of the rights proposal are inclusiveness, helping those in the greatest need; accountability, requiring regular reporting to Parliament about national housing efforts; participation, through the creation of a national housing watchdog; and non-discrimination, eliminating systemic issues that prevent people from finding a home.
Consultations on the proposal close June 1. The legislation is expected to be introduced later this year.
The national housing strategy takes $26 billion in promised new spending to go with previously promised funding and expected cash from provinces, territories and the private sector that combined to push spending over $40 billion.
All the spending is supposed to happen over the next 10 years, much of it after the 2019 election.