Canada has a human rights-based housing strategy.          Let the City know that Toronto should too.

Home is at the centre of human rights. Without a safe, affordable, secure, and accessible home, our other rights such as dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equality, liberty, security of the person, and even life, are threatened.

United Nations covenants signed by Canada guarantee the right to adequate housing. This means that everyone has a right to housing that meets basic conditions. International law states that all levels of government, including City governments, have the ability and obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to adequate housing.

The Government of Canada has taken a monument step forward on the enactment of the National Housing Strategy Act as part of Bill C-97 (the Budget Implementation Act, 2019). With the enactment of the National Housing Strategy Act, we celebrate a historic achievement in Canada. This legislation recognizes housing as a human right for the first time in Canada and acknowledges the role of housing in ensuring human dignity and building sustainable and inclusive communities. This approach also recognizes the key role of housing in achieving social, economic, health and environmental goals, and focuses on improving housing outcomes for those in greatest need.*

Now the City is developing its new HousingTO Plan for the 2020-2030. This plan, like the National Housing Strategy, should be based in human rights.

Download our full submission and executive summary  to the City of Toronto on the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.

What is Toronto doing about housing rights?

Toronto has already taken steps to recognize the right to adequate housing. Toronto’s Housing Charter affirms that:

        • “All residents should have a safe, secure, affordable and well-maintained home from which to realize their full potential.
        • All residents should be able to live in the neighbourhood of their choice without discrimination.
        • All residents, regardless of whether they rent or own a home, or are homeless, have an equal stake and voice in Toronto’s future.
        • All residents have a right to equal treatment in housing without discrimination …
        • All housing in Toronto should be maintained and operated in a good and safe state of repair.”

The goals of the last 10-year housing and homeless plan, Housing Opportunities Toronto 2010-2020 aimed to meet those aspirations. Through that plan, the City implemented policies and programs that contribute to Torontonians’ right to housing, such as:

A rights-based approach to our next 10 year housing and homelessness plan, HousingTO, would build on this foundation and provide a clear basis for the Plan’s goals, targets, timelines and actions.

What would the right to housing mean for Toronto?

Download our full submission and executive summary  to the City of Toronto on the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.

First, let’s be clear about what the right to housing does NOT mean for Toronto:

        • It does NOT mean that the City of Toronto would be obligated to provide every resident with an adequate home.
        • It does NOT mean that individuals would be able to take the City to court to claim their housing rights.

Instead, it means that the City would:

        • consider how policies, programs, planning decisions, and budgets affect residents’ access to adequate housing;
        • create and implement a plan to move toward ensuring the right to housing for every resident, over time, with priority to those who are most vulnerable;
        • invest the maximum of its available resources to fulfill the right to adequate housing;
        • act immediately to address urgent threats to human security and dignity, such as homelessness;
        • ensure that by-laws and regulations protect residents’ housing rights;
        • use City powers—such as planning, zoning, licensing, by-law enforcement, and taxation—to secure residents’ housing rights;
        • deliver City services—such as shelters, social housing, community services, emergency services, police, and welfare—in ways that uphold the right to housing;
        • meaningfully engage individuals and communities directly affected when developing, implementing, and monitoring policies and programs on housing and homelessness;
        • call upon higher orders of government to fulfill their obligations, and provide the resources and powers Toronto needs to end homelessness and ensure access to adequate housing for all residents.

*View our full statement on the Government of Canada enshrining the right to housing in law.

Tell the City  that housing is a right.