Canada urgently needs a “comprehensive and coordinated national housing policy” to meet its international housing rights obligations, according to a powerful new report from Miloon Kothari, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing that is being tabled at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. The report is based on Mr. Kothari’s recent fact-finding mission to Canada.
“Canada is the only major country in the world without a national housing plan – and that leaves local communities to cope with deep and persistent housing insecurity and homelessness on their own,” says Michael Shapcott, Senior Policy Fellow at the Wellesley Institute. “As a leading and well-respected global expert on housing and homelessness, Mr. Kothari is telling Canada that it is failing to meet its fundamental obligations in international law. This is the latest in a series of damning reports from the United Nations – and should be a clear warning that Canada needs to adopt the practical recommendations set out by Mr. Kothari.” For instance, in May 2006, the United Nations’ Committee on Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concluded its review of Canada by calling housing insecurity and homelessness “a national emergency” and noted that “most of its 1993 and 1998 recommendations have not been implemented”.
The Wellesley Institute, a research and policy institute celebrating its first decade of advancing urban health, worked with Mr. Kothari and United Nations’ officials to help organize his meetings with community and academic experts across Canada. In his report, Mr. Kothari reviewed general housing and homelessness concerns, examined issues facing women and Aboriginal people, and studied the housing impact of the Vancouver Olympics.
“The recent federal budget includes an additional $2 billion for affordable housing, and the new investments are welcome,” says Mr. Shapcott. “However, it’s one-time only dollars and won’t repair the fraying patchwork of federal programs and investments that have been condemned by Mr. Kothari. Federal affordable housing investments have been eroding in recent years and are set to fall to their lowest level in more than a quarter century.”