Liberals, Tories unite to kill right to housing bill

By ThinkPol Staff

The Liberal and Conservative parties voted together on Wednesday in Canada’s House of Commons to kill a bill that would have added the right to housing to the Canadian Bill of Rights.

Bill C-325, An Act to amend the Canadian Bill of Rights (right to housing), introduced by NDP MP Rachel Blaney (North Island-Powell River), was defeated at second reading 42-243 with NDP, Greens and Bloc voting for the motion [1]

Blaney, the Party’s Critic for Seniors and Deputy Critic for Infrastructure and Communities, explained that “in 1976, Canada enshrined the fundamental right to housing when the government of the day ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, but this right has never been formally incorporated into Canadian law”.

This bill would make it happen, according to the MP.

“Bill C-325 is about dignity,” Blaney told the House of Commons during the second reading debate. “Human rights are that, moral principles.”

“When our fellow citizens do not have a place to sleep or to go to the bathroom, these are incredibly dehumanizing experiences,” she added. “A home is more than physical space. Housing is intrinsic to the sense of security for families and the stability needed to prevent marginalization.”

The Liberals opposed the private members bill on the grounds that “it casts housing as a right by enshrining that right into the Canadian Bill of Rights.”

“This has the potential to shift focus and resources away from the work already being done on housing toward legal challenges,” Bryan May, Liberal member for Cambridge, ON, told parliament. “I do not believe this is the most effective way to deliver housing for Canadians or to solve the housing or affordability issues.”

The Conservatives objected to the bill claiming that it “ignores that jurisdiction for housing is shared with the provinces and territories.”

“Almost all federal funding that goes toward housing and homelessness initiatives is funnelled through the provinces and delivered through the municipalities and individual housing co-operatives, which provide housing to those in need,” Conservative MP Karen Vecchio (Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON) said during the debate. “As it stands, the plan put forward by our NDP colleague would simply give an unreasonable mandate to the federal government in an area that is a jurisdiction shared with our fellow governments.”

A study by the non-partisan non-profit Canadian Observatory On Homelessness found last year that “homelessness in Canada grew quite dramatically from a small number of largely single men experiencing chronic homelessness to a mass problem with on average at least 235,000 people experiencing homelessness in a given year, and over 35,000 on a given night.”[2]

A 2014 report by the organization blamed Modern mass homelessness in Canada primarily on federal withdrawal from housing investment[3]

[Photo Credit: Kat Northern Lights Man]

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