Toronto’s monthly homeless memorial marks a sober milestone at noon on Tuesday as the 700th name is added to the list of women and men who have died as a result of homelessness in Toronto. This month, six names are being added to the list, including a ‘Jane Doe’ and a ‘John Doe’ – two people whose identity cannot be established. The monthly memorial comes a day before the second reading debate for Bill C-400, national draft legislation that would require the federal government to consult widely with provinces, territories, municipalities, Aboriginal groups, community and private sector interests and create a national housing plan.
The Wellesley Institute’s Precarious Housing in Canada documents the negative impact of inadequate housing and homelessness on the lives of individual Canadians, as well as the social and economic impact on communities and the government. Access to safe and affordable housing is one of the most important determinants of health, according to research in Canada and internationally.
Canada’s federal government does a poor job tracking vital housing and homelessness statistics, as the Wellesley Institute has noted in a discussion paper on measuring housing need. However, the latest Canadian Housing Observer from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the federal government’s national housing agency, notes that one key measure – core housing need – grew by 10% in the two-year period from 2007 to 2009 as the recession took its toll on Canada. Another dimension of housing need is lack of supply:Toronto’s affordable housing wait list stood at 87,486 households in December 2012, up 6.5% over the previous December
In about two months, Canada’s performance in meeting its international housing and human rights obligations will be reviewed, once again, by the United Nation’s Human Rights Council as part of Canada’s second Universal Periodic Review. In the first review, in 2009, Canada accepted the critical observations of the UNthat it had failed to meet its international obligations to meet the housing rights of Canadians and promised to work more closely with provinces and territories on effective solutions. The Wellesley Institute’s formal submission to the UN UPR for the 2013 review documents the continued erosion of national housing funding and programs.
More background information on C400 and the draft legislation to create a national housing plan for Canada.