Along with over a dozen other concerned individuals and representatives of rights groups, anti-poverty activist Mike Creek and legal counsellor Kenneth Hale forwarded their “right to housing” Charter challenge to a United Nations committee in Geneva late last month.
“We have a housing crisis in Canada. It is a national disaster that is ignored by our governments,” Creek, who was formerly a homeless local of Toronto, told the Toronto Star
The submission came in the wake of the Canadian government’s refusal to hear the case for housing justice, which Creek and his fellows said stemmed from the unabated growth of home prices in the country’s red-hot markets (most notably, Toronto and Vancouver).
“I felt such shame that I lived in a country that would not recognize these very fundamental rights,” Creek said.
“It’s not like we went to court and made our case and didn’t convince the judges. We were blocked from being able to present the evidence and have it balanced against the government’s evidence,” Hale concurred. “It further marginalized marginalized people.”
The group’s Charter challenge contended that every level of the government has failed to live up to the principles of housing rights enshrined in the various international pacts that Canada has signed. These accords include the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the UN International Convention on Women's Rights, and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
In particular, the alliance put to task Trudeau’s Liberal administration, which has initially professed its commitment to uphold housing rights in the last federal election.
“Despite pre-election promises, a rights-based national housing strategy with specific funding and construction targets for affordable housing have not been included in any of the mandates,” the group stated.
To date, these vows have yet to bear fruit: Around 235,000 Canadian nationals are homeless every year, and no target date has been set for the government’s previously promised action to maintain over 300,000 subsidized homes across the nation.