Housing, income, food and health are all strongly linked. It is important to understand the interconnections, the vicious and virtuous cycles that feed each other, and the impact policy and program interventions can have on those cycles. Those are some of the key messages that the Wellesley Institute’s Director of Housing and Innovation, Michael Shapcott, delivered to the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, during his fact-finding mission to Canada.
A significant amount of the research and policy work of the Wellesley Institute focuses on housing and income issues. Our formal submission to the Special Rapporteur noted that hunger and food insecurity loom large for people who are homeless, precariously housed and those with low-incomes. While Canada has signed onto numerous international legal instruments that recognize the right to food, the right to adequate housing and an overall adequate standard of living, these international obligations have not been fully incorporated into domestic law or properly realized in Canadian policies and programs.
Among other recommendations, the Wellesley Institute is calling on the Special Rapporteur to add his support for Bill C-400, a private member’s bill in front of Canada’s Parliament, which would require the federal government to develop a national housing plan in consultation with other orders of government, the community, Aboriginal groups and the private sector. The high cost of housing is the single biggest expense for most low, moderate and middle-income Canadian households, and for many, the high cost of housing leaves less money for food, medicine, transportation and other necessities for both personal and population health.
Links and resources:
The formal Wellesley Institute submission to the Special Rapporteur
The Wellesley Institute presentation at the meeting with the Special Rapporteur
Wellesley Institute’s Precarious Housing in Canada 2010
United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Right to Housing – final report on fact-finding mission to Canada
United Nation’s Human Rights Council – Universal Period Review of Canada: Working Group report
Government of Canada formal response to UN Universal Periodic Review – June 2009
Affidavit of Michael Shapcott, Director Affordable Housing and Social Innovation-Wellesley Institute
Street Health report 2007 – health status of homeless people
Work and health – Wellesley Institute research report
Canada’s Colour-Coded Labour Market
OECD Growing Unequal – Canada report
OECD Divided We Stand – Canada report
Bill C-400 – draft legislation for a national housing plan
In from Margins – Senate report on poverty, housing and homelessness