CERA is committed to using a variety of strategies to ensure the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. Our law reform activities have recently focused on a private member’s bill that, if adopted by Parliament, would lead to the adoption of a rights based national housing strategy.
CERA and the Social Rights Advocacy Centre (SRAC) have been working hard since November 2009 to see the passage of Bill C304: The Secure, Adequate, Accessible and Affordable Housing Act. In early December 2009 the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities adopted a series of significant amendments to Bill C-304. CERA and SRAC worked with Gerard Kennedy (LIB) and Libby Davies (NDP, sponsor of this private member’s bill) to make this a model piece of legislation to implement the right to adequate housing in Canada through a national housing strategy. Subsequent to the prorogation of parliament, Bill C-304 has been re-adopted, including all of the amendments, and has been reported to parliament.
The Act includes a strong commitment to the right to adequate housing as guaranteed under international human rights law and commits to developing:
- targets and timelines for the elimination of homelessness;
- priority for disadvantaged groups including women leaving violent households and persons with disabilities;
- a process for the independent review, addressing and reporting of complaints about possible violations of the right to adequate housing;
- a process for review and follow-up on any concerns or recommendations from United Nations human rights bodies with respect to the right to adequate housing;
- a key role for civil society organizations, including those representing groups in need of housing, and Aboriginal communities in designing the delivery, monitoring and evaluation of programs required to implement the right to adequate housing;
- provision of financial assistance to those who cannot otherwise afford housing.
In May a provision granting Quebec an exemption from the Bill was challenged by the Conservatives as inadmissible. The Speaker of the House ruled that the amendment was in fact out of order. The Bill is now before Parliament for third reading and will be voted on either late in June or in the fall of 2010.
As it stands neither the Conservatives nor the Bloc intend to support the Bill on third reading. An historic moment is close to being extinguished. We urge you to contact Conservative and Bloc MPs to encourage them to support the Bill so that Canada can join other developed countries and move toward the establishment of a national strategy to address homelessness and inadequate housing.