Elements of 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.*

UN covenants signed by Canada guarantee the right to “adequate housing.” 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.

This means that everyone has a right to housing that meets basic conditions:

        • Affordable – the cost of housing doesn’t interfere with access to other basic needs such as food;
        • Habitable – homes are large enough, safe, and in good repair – healthy environment in which to thrive;
        • Accessible – people of all abilities, and members of disadvantaged groups, have housing that accommodates their needs;
        • Secure tenure – residents are protected from arbitrary eviction;
        • Serviced by necessary infrastructure such as safe drinking water, affordable power and heating, and communication technology;
        • Located close to employment, services, and amenities;
        • Culturally appropriate for inhabitants’ way of life.

A right to housing in Toronto must also ensure that adequate housing is equitable and accessible to all, without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, Indigenous identity, disability, faith, place of birth, age, family status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors.