At the end of his visit to Canada last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing Miloon Kothari (an independent expert in an honorary position who reports annually to the UN Human Rights Council on the status of the realization of the right to adequate housing in the world), gave negative preliminary observations: “… Everywhere that I visited in Canada, I met people who are homeless and living in adequate and insecure housing conditions. I heard of hundreds who died as a direct result of Canada’s nation-wide housing crisis. In its most recent review of Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN used strong language to label housing and homelessness and inadequate housing as a “national emergency”.
…Studies show that women, especially single mothers are disproportionally affected by affordability or discrimination. ... I heard some very disturbing testimonies on women whose children were taken away because they were living in inadequate housing, an issue that particularly affects Aboriginal women. … Although women leaving abusive relationships have priority for social housing (except for in the 3 Territories), a woman with maximum priority to access housing… may still wait up to 3 years to get a home. (This) pushes women to stay with a violent partner or to return to violent relationship to avoid homelessness. In view of the current situation women face throughout the country, I was surprised to receive information on significant cuts to the budget and the modification the mandate of Status Women Canada, the only Federal agency focused on women. This might contradict the legal obligation of allocating maximum available resources and the non-retrogression with respect to human right that is mandated in the ICESCR. I am concerned that some women’s organizations have been defunded for their service provision to women, research and advocacy activities.
… Canada is one of the richest countries, which makes the prevalence of this crisis is all the more striking. … Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has had a large operating surplus – almost $1 billion this year. Canada’s successful social housing program, which created over half a million homes starting in 1973, no longer exists. Canada has one of the smallest social housing sectors among developed countries and relies almost entirely on the private market for new housing. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector created over a quarter of a million homes, but only 1 in 100 are affordable for low and moderate-income families...