Eviction and International Obligations: Security of Tenure in Canada

By adopting the National Housing Strategy Act on June 19, 2019, the Government of Canada has made a clear and unambiguous commitment to the right to housing as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Drawing on the jurisprudence of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  and concrete examples, this report focuses on four obligations that flow from this commitment: the obligation to develop an eviction prevention policy (1), the obligation to respect the right to a fair trial (2), the principle of proportionality (3) and finally, the obligation to provide rehousing following an eviction (4).

In Canada, these obligations have two things in common. The first is that they are either ignored or violated by the Canadian government, or only partially implemented and only in some provinces. The second commonality is that these obligations could be easily met and would entail little cost to the Canadian federal or provincial governments if the political will were there. They have been in force for years in almost all European countries and fall under the control of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) without any major controversy.

Until the political will emerges, eviction procedures in Canada continue to remain largely indifferent to human dignity and the public interest and are, in all cases, contrary to the minimum obligations set by international law and which the Government of Canada has formally committed to honour.

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