OPINION – National Newswatch
by Michèle Biss and Sahar Raza
As the Canadian government works to recover from the pandemic, one basic human right remains alarmingly inaccessible to more and more people across the country: housing.
COVID-19 has exposed the harsh inequities in housing, health, and income across Canada, with stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols near-impossible to follow for the growing number of people living in precarious, uninhabitable, or overcrowded accommodations, facing evictions into homelessness, or experiencing homelessness against a backdrop of an increasingly unaffordable housing market.
Of course, these stark disparities in health and housing are not new. Historically marginalized groups were already overrepresented in low-income, precariously housed, and homeless populations, and faced poorer health and life outcomes as a result. This is precisely why civil society advocates fought so hard for the Government of Canada to pass the National Housing Strategy Act (NHSA) in 2019, cementing its commitment to the human right to adequate housing in law.
But over two years since Canada made this historic commitment, we have yet to see the federal government meaningfully implement key pillars of the NHSA legislation, including the appointment of a Federal Housing Advocate. Instead, violations of the right to housing are mounting in Canada’s dire housing and homelessness crisis.