Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and on the Right to Non-discrimination in this Context

At the invitation of the Government, the Special Rapporteur conducted a mission to Canada from 9 to 22 October 2007. The visit focused on four areas: homelessness; women and their right to adequate housing; Aboriginal populations; adequate housing and the possible impact of the 2010 Olympic Games on the right to adequate housing in Vancouver. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur acknowledges the State’s historically successful social housing programmes and commends a number of good practices. He notes with satisfaction that a majority of Canadian households are able to house themselves in the private market. As requested by his function, the Special Rapporteur focuses the remainder of the report and his recommendations on issues and sectors of the population that require the attention of the authorities. The Special Rapporteur enumerates a number of factors impeding the effective implementation of the right to housing for all, including the non-recognition of a separate right to adequate housing, the absence of a definition of homelessness, the lack of a national housing strategy and issues resulting from the allocation of competencies to different levels of authority. The Special Rapporteur notes the concerns expressed about the rise in the number of the homeless and people in inadequate housing and living conditions, rising prices in the housing sector affecting an increasing number of people with various levels of income, and the decrease in public housing. While referring and restating a number of recommendations addressed by other special procedures and treaty bodies to Canada, the Special Rapporteur concludes with a number of recommendations, including the need (a) to recognize the right to adequate housing by all levels of Government; (b) to adopt or amend legislation to protect the right to adequate housing; (c) to commit to a comprehensive national housing strategy with stable and long-term funding; (d) to adopt a comprehensive and coordinated national strategy for the reduction of homelessness and poverty; (e) to address the situation of Aboriginals in and off reserves through a comprehensive and coordinated housing strategy; (f) to refrain from any actions that could contravene the rights of Aboriginal peoples on Aboriginal land under claim until a settlement has been reached; and (g) to ensure equitable representation of all indigenous women in modern-day treaty negotiations and agreements.

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