Homeless encampments constitute one of the most serious right-to-housing issues in Canada today. Mobilizing case studies, media scans, and literature and policy reviews, this report illuminates the inherent tensions of the human rights dimensions of encampments across Canada. Chapter 1 provides a background on the regulation of encampments before and after the pandemic. Chapter 2 focuses on the specific role of municipal bylaws in encampments. Summaries of the five case studies are included in this chapter. This chapter shows how municipalities are the main governments that regulate encampments, largely through restrictive bylaws. Chapter 3 sets out a media scan of op-eds and news articles related to encampments from March 2020 to December 2021. This chapter explains the themes raised by popular media, including concerns about the visibility of encampments during the pandemic. Chapter 4 explains A National Protocol on Homeless Encampments in Canada in the context of this report, situating encampments within a right to housing framework with eight key principles. Chapter 5 provides five recommendations for the implementation of a rights-based approach to encampments, with specific recommendations aimed at the federal government. A different approach is needed to better respond to this humanitarian crisis and violation of people’s human rights in Canada. A human rights-based approach to encampments is long overdue.
This document was produced as part of a cross-Canada knowledge-sharing research project that was funded by the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate in order to improve public understanding of the reality of those living in encampments. Click here to read the full series.