(ENG) Canada Reprimanded After Kothari’s Housing Report Results


Canada has received both a sharp reprimand and a strong call to action
in the preliminary observations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur
on the Right to Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, in his preliminary
observations at the end of his fact-finding mission to Canada (October
22, 2007).

The preliminary observations are the first stage towards completing a
major review on Canada’s compliance with its international housing
rights obligations. The report will be presented to the United Nations
Human Rights Council, the highest human rights body within the UN, early
in the new year.

Mr. Kothari visited five Canadian cities and several Aboriginal
communities during his mission from October 9 to 22. He met with senior
government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations
and people who are directly experiencing Canada’s nation-wide affordable
housing and homelessness crisis.

“Everything I witnessed on this mission confirms the deep and
devastating impact of this national crisis on the lives of women, youth,
children and men,” said Mr. Kothari. “Canada is one of the richest
countries in the world, which makes the prevalence of this crisis all
the more striking.”

Mr. Kothari’s preliminary observations are a devastating indictment of
almost two decades of funding cuts by governments in Canada, not just of
housing programs but also income assistance and other initiatives.

“Canada has a reputation around the world for its progressive housing
policies and programmes, but that is no longer the case,” said Mr.
Kothari. “Canada’s successful social housing programme, which created
more than half a million homes starting in 1973, no longer exists.
Canada has fallen behind most countries in the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and development in its level of investment in affordable
housing. Canada has one of the smallest social housing sectors among
developed countries.

Along with his preliminary observations, Mr. Kothari has made a series
of recommendations to the federal government, including:

– a comprehensive national housing strategy, co-ordinated with the
provinces and territories;

– a “large-scale” building of social housing units;

– an immediate extension of the federal government’s affordable housing
programs, which are due to expire at the end of fiscal 2008;

– immediate steps to fully recognize international economic, social and
cultural rights in all Canadian domestic laws; as part of a national
housing strategy, specific initiatives directed at groups forced onto
the margins, including women, Aboriginal people, elders, youth, members
of racialized communities, immigrants and others;

– an immediate extension of the federal housing renovation program that
is due to expire at the end of fiscal 2008;

– a comprehensive fix for the subsidy erosion faced by s.95 housing
co-operatives; funding and resources to ensure that all Canadians have
access to potable water and proper sanitation;

– an immediate extension of the federal homelessness program, which is
due to expire in fiscal 2008;

– a consistent framework of tenant protection and rent regulation laws
across the country that meet the standards set by international housing
rights laws;

– additional housing allowances as part of a national housing strategy;

– inclusive zoning and planning practices across the country;

– a comprehensive and properly-funded poverty reduction strategy at the
federal level, and with provinces and territories; measures to address
the urgent, short-term and long-term needs of women;

– progressive legislation to address violence against women;

– creation, funding and implementation of programmes and policies to
support women in the area of housing and domestic violence;

– funding and resources to a national Aboriginal housing strategy, on
and off-reserve, that ensures that Aborginal housing and services are
under Aboriginal control;

– a moratorium on oil and extractive activities at Lubicon until a
settlement is reached with the Lubicon Lake Nation;

– specific targets and strategies, and independent monitoring, of the
Vancouver Olympics;

– funding and programmes to sustain non-governmental organizations over

– the development of proper statistics and indicators for homelessness
and housing insecurity.

Over the next four months, Mr. Kothari will continue to monitor the
activities of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and
will work with non-governmental organizations in Canada to develop a
comprehensive report on housing and homelessness in Canada.

* * *

Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow

The Wellesley Institute

45 Charles Street East, #101

Toronto, ON., Canada M4Y 1S2

Tel. – 416-972-1010, x231

Mobile – 416-605-8316

Fax – 416-921-7228