Putting Human Rights Accountability and Commitments to End Homelessness Into Ontario's Housing Strategy/Bill 140

Bill 140: Strong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, 2011

In May 2011, Ontario passed into law Bill 140, theStrong Communities through Affordable Housing Act, 2011, to provide for the implementation of key components of their Long-Term and Affordable Housing Strategy. Many organizations were concerned that the Bill lacked vital components of an effective housing strategy as recommended by UN human rights bodies and experts. In particular, the Bill made no reference to the right to adequate housing, which Ontario is obliged to implement within its own jurisdiction, had no targets for the reduction and elimination of homelessness, no independent monitoring or complaints mechanism, and no commitment to addressing the obstacles facing vulnerable groups.

In 2008, the then UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari, conducted an important Mission to Canada.  In his Report to the UN Human Rights Council on his mission, he urged the adoption of provincial and federal housing strategies based on the right to adequate housing.  Following up on his recommendations from 2008, Mr. Kothari wrote a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing urging that Bill 140 be amended to ensure compliance with international human rights and to implement the recommendations from UN Human Rights bodies.

CURA community research partners, the Social Rights Advocacy Centre (SRAC) and Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA), presented research and proposed a series of key amendments to Bill 140 that would ensure the right to adequate housing was protected. These amendments were put forward by Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo but all were rejected by the government and were voted down during the clause-by-clause Committee debate.

 The Ontario Human Rights Commission has been urged to hold an inquiry into homelessness as a violation of human rights, as a follow-up to its Right at Home Report, and to provide guidance to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and municipalities as to how housing . Additionally, CURA researchers will be following up directly municipalities in their design of housing and homelessness plans and to assess ‘best practices’ for human rights compliance at the municipal level.

Letter from Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing

Key amendments proposed to protect the right to adequate housing

Hansard of the clause-by-clause debate regarding amendments to Bill 140

Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing – Mission to Canada

Consensus of UN Human Rights Bodies on the need for a housing strategy based on the human right to adequate housing

See Bruce Porter, "Designing and Implementing Rights-Based Strategies to Address Homelessness and Poverty in Ontario"

Submissions proposing that Bill 140 be amended to include the right to adequate housing and commitments to end homelessness:

See also the oral submissions to the Committee