Liberals ready to make housing a right as part of national strategy

However, sources say there may not be any legislated specifics tied to the promise

(Jae C. Hong/AP)

(Jae C. Hong/AP)

OTTAWA – The federal Liberals’ are sending signals that they are ready to make a right to housing part of its national housing strategy.

The declaration appears largely aspirational in nature at this point, as sources with knowledge of the government’s thinking said there won’t be any legislated specifics tied to the promise – unlike the detailed benchmarks on other parts of the plan to measure progress.

Government officials have told housing and homeless advocates to expect a declaration in the plan set to be released this fall, and have it put into legislation to make a bold statement that would be difficult for a future government to ignore or reverse.

A spokesman for Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the government couldn’t yet speak definitively to the details of the strategy.

The UN special rapporteur on adequate housing said declaring a right to housing in Canada would be a huge step forward for the country as it looks to curb homelessness and poverty.

“This country has been very slow to embrace all social and economic rights, including the right the housing,” said Leilani Farha, who is also executive director of Canada Without Poverty.

“They’re being pretty bold and creative in their thinking. I don’t know how that thinking translates into strategy.”

Federal coffers will dole out $11.2 billion over the next decade on the housing strategy, which is being billed as a plan to ensure everyone in the country can find housing that is affordable and meets their needs.

The government will flow $5 billion of that money to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. to stimulate private sector investments and hopefully create an extra $10.9 billion in funding over 11 years.

Officials are putting the final touches on the plan that is scheduled to be released this fall.

Sources say the Liberals are looking to create specific strategies each for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, instead of a singular Aboriginal housing strategy. The 2017 federal budget included $300 million for housing in the North and $225 million to support programs that provide units to Indigenous Peoples off-reserve.

The depth of Canada’s housing needs will be fully revealed at the end of October when Statistics Canada releases the data gleaned from the return of the mandatory, long-form census.

The most recent data available suggests there are 1.6 million households in “core housing need” – those who spend more than one-third of their before-tax income on housing that may be substandard or doesn’t meet their needs.

Census data released earlier this month showed that there were 4.8 million Canadians living below the poverty line, including 1.2 million children.

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Liberals ready to make housing a right as part of national strategy

  1. Interesting new development in the lack of affordable housing crises already plaguing many Canadians.

    Talk of strategy, especially development of strategy that is expected to cost us tax payers billions, without action may very well be as wasteful as it sounds.

    So far, both our provincial and federal levels of government have implemented policies that not only created this crisis in the first place, but more recently have only served to exasperate it further and in so doing they have and will continue to hurt exactly those Canadians who they purport to be “saving” from the already sky high costs of housing.

    Such will undoubtedly be the case with Ontario governments “Fair Housing Plan” unleashed on us back in April this year.

    To our fearless political leaders:

    Let me be perfectly clear as you are obviously missing the forest for the trees here.

    Talking your way out of this mess you created, yet take no responsibility for, is no solution.

    Expansions of rent control rules will not solve our affordable crisis. Indeed, it will only make it worse as developers are now much less inclined to build purpose built rental housing and less investors interested as well after your “Fair Housing Plan” announcement.

    The solution is simple. If you truly wish to increase supply of affordable housing, then why not simply implement policies that go towards enticing builders and investors in providing these to the market place instead of restricting them from doing so?

    Already over 4.8 million Canadians, over 13% of the countries population is living below the poverty line. How many more will join this club that no Canadian wishes to belong to, as a result of our political leaders assassin policies?

    Why is it that our political leaders seem to lack common sense here?

    Why is it that they are more interested in getting re-elected by providing short term gains in exchange for excruciating long term pain for all Canadians.

    Canadians deserve concrete housing solutions that not empty promises and B.S. studies costing millions in tax payer dollars only to tell everyone what we already know. There is an affordable housing crises in this country.

    Time to stop talking and take action.

    “Words are very unnecessary. They can only do harm” – Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode

  2. “The federal Liberals’ are sending signals that they are ready to make a right to housing part of its national housing strategy.
    The declaration appears largely aspirational in nature at this point, …”

    How can a right be aspirational? A right is either something that can’t be taken away – negative right (e.g., freedom of speech), or something that must be provided – positive right (e.g., health care?) If housing is to be a *right* (presumably positive right), then it must be provided, it can’t be aspirational. Hopefully, official wording will make intent clear.