Wellesley Institute - Universal Periodic Review – Canada - 2013

Canada’s federal government has failed to meet the housing commitments that it made to the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of 2009. That’s a key observation in the Wellesley Institute’s submission to the upcoming United Nation’s review of Canada’s international human rights obligations, set for early in 2013. Canada has signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and numerous other international legal instruments and has, therefore, taken on an international obligation to ensure the realization of those rights. The Universal Periodic Review process is conducted by the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, the highest human rights body in the UN system, which monitors the compliance of individual countries to their international rights obligations. The 2009 UPR produced 68 recommendations for action from the Human Rights Council, including four that specifically mentioned housing and homelessness. In its formal response to the UPR in June of 2009, the federal government “took on board” (using the language of the UN) the housing recommendations and promised to take specific actions to bring Canada in compliance with its human rights obligations. The Wellesley Institute submission notes that Canada has continued to cut housing and homelessness funding, it has failed to develop a collaborative strategy with other orders of government in Canada’s federation and its signature national housing and homelessness programs are to be eliminated in fiscal 2013 (March 31, 2014). In addition, there have been almost no federal-provincial-territorial housing meetings since 2009, despite a commitment by the federal government for greater collaboration with other levels of government to address housing issues. The federal government’s failure to meet its international housing rights obligations and its commitments to UPR 2009 are contributing to deep and persistent precarious housing and widespread homelessness.

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