Communiqué from the National Housing Council
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Communiqué from the National Housing Council

June 24, 2021: The National Housing Council releases three key priority areas for 2021/22.

The recently appointed National Housing Council met for its inaugural and first quarterly meetings on February 4th, 11th, and April 15th, 2021.

These meetings took place at a moment in time where housing needs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the urgency to have a safe place to call home is more important than ever. These unprecedented times have also exposed the inequalities faced by marginalized communities, and in particular, more and more vulnerable Canadians have found themselves in precarious housing situations.

As a result, the Council has adopted an ambitious agenda that focuses on addressing three priority areas in 2021-22, with the objective of providing concrete and actionable recommendations to the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development.

The three priority areas the Council has identified for 2021-22 include:

  1. Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Housing – The Council will outline a vision for what the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing is within a Canadian context. They will pinpoint expectations, duties, and responsibilities of the Canadian government to meet its international obligations as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
  2. Improving the National Housing Strategy – The Council will assess the effectiveness of the National Housing Strategy to date and identify opportunities for improvement to better address housing needs and homelessness in Canada. The Council will also investigate the impact of financialization of the rental housing market.
  3. Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing – The Council has identified Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous housing as an urgent priority and as a critical gap in the National Housing Strategy. The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, has requested the Council investigate options for the establishment of an independent, Indigenous-controlled body to create policy and administer funding for urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing. The Council has struck an Indigenous led, Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing working group that has begun work on this request and is expected to issue a preliminary report early this summer. This report will be followed by a public engagement and a final report with recommendations.

Embracing a human rights-based approach to housing

The Council is committed to advancing the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing and improving housing outcomes for all Canadians by providing quality and actionable recommendations to the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development.

The Council will anchor its reports in a detailed analysis of existing evidence and fulsome engagement with rights holders, equity seeking groups, and other experts. The Council is committed to engaging with those in greatest need, including people with lived experience of housing need and homelessness, to ensure their voices are heard by policy makers.

In their inaugural meetings, the Council agreed to a Charter that established guiding principles that will underpin their work, including independent and fearless advice, improving housing outcomes for Canadians, reconciliation and decolonization, diversity, inclusion, non-discrimination, participation, co-creation, community engagement, transparency, and urgency.

The Council is working closely with the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate on the design and implementation of review panels. Under the National Housing Strategy Act, the Housing Council is mandated to hold review panels to review selected systemic housing issues under federal jurisdiction as referred by the Federal Housing Advocate. Review panels are a new and innovative mechanism that offers the public, particularly members of affected communities and groups with expertise and experience in human rights and housing, an opportunity to participate and contribute to furthering federal housing policy, including the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing under international law. 

Upcoming Council meetings will be held in July, September and December 2021.

For updates on the Council’s work and developments including public engagements, please join our mailing list.

 

About the National Housing Council: In July 2019, the National Housing Strategy Act came into law. The Act, among other things, recognizes that a national housing strategy supports the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing. The Act includes the establishment of a National Housing Council.

The Council’s purpose is to further the housing policy of the Government of Canada and the National Housing Strategy. Drawing on the diverse expertise and experience of its membership, the Council will provide advice to the Minister responsible for the NHS Act (the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development). The National Housing Council promotes participation and inclusion in the development of housing policy through the diversity of its members and engagement with communities.