Shomporko Desk:A key body the Liberals promised to make to help settle systemic inequities in Canada’s housing system remains unstaffed, with delays in arrangements credited to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national housing council and a related advocate were created, on paper, as a major aspect of the Liberal government’s decade-long housing strategy that was placed into law a year ago.
Applications closed mid-October however the positions hadn’t been occupied when the pandemic struck Canada in mid-March.
An online notice from early April says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. still hopes to establish the council this year but suggests a delay due to COVID-19.
The notice said the federal government was “focused on addressing this crisis” given the “uncertain and evolving circumstances related to COVID-19.” The notice added that appointing the council “remains a priority for the government.”
Two months later and with the backdrop of promises by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address systemic racism and inequities in Canada, appointments have not been made.
Leilani Farha, global director of The Shift, a group that advocates for the right to housing, said the council and advocate could be playing a large role in how governments respond to the pandemic.
“You have a pandemic and your main policy to address the pandemic is (to say) ‘Stay home and wash your hands and physical distance.’ That is a housing remedy to a deadly virus, so wouldn’t it be top of mind and your first move to establish these two entities that are squarely looking at housing?” Farha said in an interview.
“It seems only logical to me.”
A spokeswoman for Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said work is underway to establish the housing advocate’s office at the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
Jessica Eritou said in a statement that the advocate’s work would focus on vulnerable groups, and those who have experienced homelessness to improve Canada’s housing laws, including “policies to make sure everyone has safe, suitable, and affordable housing which meets their needs.”
Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, told MPs during the virtual meeting that meaningful implementation of the right to housing, “to surface and resolve inequities in systemic or structural barriers” would have an economic boost by limiting housing need.
“As the private sector well knows, when you listen to your customers and respond to their needs, you get much more efficient and better outcomes. This is at the heart of the right to housing,” he said.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Paul Sancya
News source: The Canadian Press