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TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE NATIONAL HOUSING COUNCIL

Backgrounder

The National Housing Strategy Act (the Act) was enacted on June 21, 2019. It recognizes that housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person and will ensure that future governments develop and maintain a national housing strategy to support improved housing outcomes for the most vulnerable. Grounded in a human rights-based approach to housing, the Act declares it a policy of the Government of Canada to support improved housing for the people of Canada and to recognize and advance the right to adequate housing as a fundamental human right as recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The Act requires the Government of Canada to develop, maintain and report on the National Housing Strategy, which will:

  • set out a long-term vision for housing in Canada that recognizes the importance of housing in achieving social, economic, health and environmental goals;
  • establish national goals relating to housing and homelessness and identify related priorities, initiatives, timelines and desired outcomes;
  • focus on improving housing outcomes for persons in greatest need; and
  • provide for participatory processes to ensure the ongoing inclusion and engagement of civil society, stakeholders, vulnerable groups and persons with lived experience of housing need, as well as those with lived experience of homelessness.

MANDATE

The National Housing Council (the Council) has been established under the National Housing Strategy Act. The purpose of the National Housing Council is to further the housing policy and the National Housing Strategy by:

  • providing advice to the Minister designated for the purposes of the NHS Act (the Minister) including, among other things, on the effectiveness of the National Housing Strategy; and
  • taking on any other activity specified by the Minister.

The following are the Council’s Terms of Reference.

MEMBERSHIP

The Council will be representative of Canada's diversity. To the extent possible, this includes gender diversity, as well as the representation of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, its regions, and its two official languages. The Minister will also consider the importance of the Council’s representation of:

  • people who are members of vulnerable groups;
  • people with lived expertise of housing need as well as those with lived expertise of homelessness;
  • people who have experience in a housing-related field; and
  • people who have expertise in human rights.

The Council will be made up of two co-chairpersons and 9 to 15 other members. Council members will be selected for their expertise and leadership in their respective fields.

Certain people will automatically be members of the Council. These people are:

  • the Federal Housing Advocate;
  • the Deputy Minister of the department for which the Minister is responsible;
  • the Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada; and
  • the President of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The other members of the Council will be appointed by the Minister to hold office for up to three years, to ensure that not all membership is renewed at the same time. Some appointed members of the Council could be reappointed for one more term.

The appointed members of the Council will perform their duties and functions on the Council on a part-time basis.

Working groups of the Council may be established. The mandates and membership of these working groups will be determined by the Council’s co-chairpersons.

REMUNERATION AND OTHER EXPENSES

The members of the Council who are appointed by the Minister will be remunerated for their work on the Council. Their remuneration will be determined by the Minister, following the guidelines of other advisory councils and best practices observed.

In addition, members of the Council are eligible to be reimbursed for their travel, living and other expenses related to their work for the Council while absent from their ordinary place of work or residence. This reimbursement will be made in accordance with Treasury Board directives.

FEDERAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

The members of the Council who are appointed by the Minister are considered to be employed in the federal public administration for the purposes of the Government Employees Compensation Act and for the purposes of any regulations made under section 9 of the Aeronautics Act.

ROLE OF CO-CHAIRPERSONS

The co-chairpersons supervise and direct the Council’s work.

The President of the CMHC is automatically one co-chairperson of the Council. The Minister must designate the other co-chairperson from among the members of the Council who are appointed by the Minister. If the co-chairperson designated by the Minister is absent or unable to act, the Minister may designate another person from among the members of the Council who are appointed by the Minister to act as that co-chairperson.

The President of CMHC may designate, in writing, an alternate to perform their duties and functions on the Council. That alternate is considered to be a co-chairperson of the Council.

Each automatic member of the Council, other than the Federal Housing Advocate, may designate an alternate to perform their duties and functions on the Council. Those alternates are considered to be members of the Council.

MEETINGS

The Council must hold four meetings or teleconferences each year, or as often as the Minister specifies. Working groups meet as required to achieve the mandate and deadlines set by the Council.

The members should be available for approximately 12 days of remunerated work per year. Quorum to hold meetings: one of two co-chairs, or their alternate, and a majority of the sitting members of the Council.

The proper notification period will be determined by the co-chairpersons, but should not be less than one week.

REVIEW PANEL

The Federal Housing Advocate can ask the Council to establish a review panel that would hold a hearing to review a systemic housing issue, within the authority of Parliament.

Summary of information
The Federal Housing Advocate must provide the review panel with a summary of the information that formed the Advocate’s basis for identifying the systemic housing issue.

Membership
A review panel is made up of three members of the Council, and are appointed by the Council. However, automatic members of the Council cannot be members of a review panel.

Things to consider
In appointing members to a review panel, the Council must consider the importance of representing on the review panel:

  • people who are members of vulnerable groups;
  • people with lived expertise of housing need, as well as those with lived expertise of homelessness; and
  • people who have expertise in human rights.

Availability of review panel members
Members of a review panel should be available for up to eight days per year, in addition to their regular part-time work with the Council.

Duties
A review panel must:

  • hold a hearing to review the systemic housing issue that it was established for;
  • hold the hearing in a way that offers the public an opportunity to participate, especially members of communities that are affected by the issue and groups that have expertise in human rights and housing;
  • prepare a report on the panel’s opinion on the issue and that includes any recommendation to take measures to address the issue (respecting matters that Parliament has jurisdiction over, however); and
  • submit the report to the Minister.

Observations of the Federal Advocate
The Federal Housing Advocate is entitled to present their observations and present proposals for recommendations to a review panel. To do this, the Advocate can work with experts and communities that are affected by the issue that the review panel is studying.

ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT

CMHC must provide the Council with the administrative services and facilities it needs to perform its duties and functions. The administrative support to be provided by CMHC will include:

  • maintaining the contact information of the Council members;
  • assisting in the arrangement of meetings (timing, venue, equipment, hospitality);
  • drafting the meeting agendas, with the guidance of the co-chairpersons;
  • distributing meeting agendas and relevant documents;
  • providing the Council with a written summary of meeting proceedings, taking note of action items for the next meeting; and
  • keeping meeting records.

CONFIDENTIALITY AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Council members are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all proprietary, confidential or privileged information that they are provided. Council members are also subject to the terms and conditions of the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Agreement.

CHANGES TO TERMS OF REFERENCE

These terms of reference may be reviewed periodically, and amendments may be made when deemed appropriate by the co-chairpersons. Changes cannot, however, cause the terms of reference to deviate significantly from the Council’s intent, as stated in the National Housing Strategy Act.