The global pandemic brought on by COVID-19 is a stark reminder that the right to housing and the right to health are inextricably bound up with each other. As public health officials daily tighten the protocols for self-isolation to “flatten the curve” of the pandemic’s impact, many Canadians have never been more aware of the importance of having a safe, secure home.
The Right to Housing Toronto has distilled international and domestic human rights principles into advice for the City of Toronto about how to ensure its housing and homelessness-related COVID-19 responses are grounded in human rights. Our four-part human rights-based recommendations demonstrate what a rights-based approach to pandemic responses will look like in practice, emphasizing the importance of protecting and housing the most vulnerable, ending homelessness, preventing eviction, promoting housing security, and building a rights-based housing system.
We have also spent time reaching out to governments. On March 17, we wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau, Premier Ford, Mayor Tory, Minister Hussen, Attorney General Downey, and Deputy Mayor Bailao urging them to take urgent measures to ensure the right to adequate housing for all, as a fundamental basis for health and well-being in responses to COVID-19. Our letter includes recommendations for each government to consider. Many of these measures are in the process of being implemented, while others are being considered. R2HTO supports these initiatives and recognizes the dedication of all in the public service who are working tirelessly to respond as new circumstances unfold.
In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, we stand ready to work together to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.