Housing rights not in government’s agenda—activists

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“We have a housing crisis in Canada. It is a national disaster that is ignored by our governments.”
 
Thus said Toronto local and anti-poverty activist Mike Creek, who is a prominent figure in a coalition that is challenging the federal government’s lack of decisive action in dealing with the persistent problem of affordability in Canada’s housing markets.
 
Along with the movement’s legal counsellor, Creek submitted the alliance’s “right to housing” Charter challenge to a United Nations committee in Geneva, after Canadian courts supposedly refused to hear the case.
 
“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,” Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario legal director Kenneth Hale told Metro News.
 
“It further marginalized marginalized people,” said Hale, whose legal aid firm supports the coalition’s goals.
 
The Charter challenge put municipal, provincial, and federal government officials to task for their inaction on homelessness and price gouging in real estate markets, which they described as blatant violations of equality and security rights.
 
The activists said that the Liberal administration—which touted housing as an inalienable human right in the last federal election—does not have in its agenda a viable housing plan that would ensure greater access for fringe groups such as the homeless and the disenfranchised.
 
“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.
 
Complicating matters is that the Trudeau government has split the responsibility for housing between three officials—namely, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, and Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett.
 
This arrangement has snarled up any possible coordinated response to the crisis, the advocates said. To date, the government’s promised action to maintain 350,000 subsidized housing units across the country has yet to materialize.

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