Members of Parliament will have a free vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday, February 27, on Bill C400 – An Act to Ensure Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing for Canadians. The bill is up for second reading vote – which means that it has already passed the first reading vote. Under the rules of Parliament, MPs are not required to vote along party lines on Private Member’s Bills. However, Private Member’s Bills cannot bind the government on spending, so C400 doesn’t set out specific funding or a legislative program. Instead, it sets out a timeline that requires the federal government to consult widely – with provinces, territories, municipalities, Aboriginal groups, the community and the private sectors – and report back to Parliament in 180 days with a comprehensive national housing plan.
The Wellesley Institute’s Precarious Housing in Canada notes the erosion of federal housing funding and programs over the past two decades, which has helped spur an increase in housing insecurity and homelessness. Our research, and the work of others, draws a strong link between poor housing and poor health, along with premature mortality.
Senator Art Eggleton, a former federal cabinet minister and former Mayor of Toronto, has written a powerful column in support of C-400, calling it “the bill that could end homelessness”. Senator Eggleton was Chair of a Senate Standing Committee that prepared one of the most comprehensive reports on housing, poverty and homelessness in Canada.
Dignity for All has a national website with background information on C400.