Housing policy news: August 2022

August 30, 2022

FEDERAL 

  • Government of Canada nearly doubles funding to address rise in homelessness 
    The Government of Canada announced increased funding for Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. Launched in April 2019 with over $2 billion in funding, August’s announcement will increase the Strategy funding to nearly $4 billion. CCHR called on the government to enhance supports for people experiencing homelessness as well as in our 2022 Budget Submission and we hope the increase helps reach the National Housing Strategy goal of cutting chronic homelessness in Canada by 50%. We will continue to advocate for changing the definition of homelessness to include the experiences of women and gender-diverse populations so the Reaching Home fund can support ending hidden homelessness in Canada.   
  • The National Housing Council makes recommendations to advance the right to housing in Canada 
    The National Housing Council, an advisory body created through the National Housing Strategy Act, released its interim report on how the federal government can fulfill its housing rights obligations, based on consultations with people with lived and living experience of housing need and homelessness, as well as organizations who support them. The NHC outlines five high-level recommendations for the federal government: to incorporate right to housing language in all key government activities; to shift housing policy and programs to a rights and needs-based design with an intersectional, GBA+, anti-discrimination, decolonization and human-rights based approach; to prioritize a separate, fully-funded ‘For Indigenous, By Indigenous’ process of implementing the right to housing for Indigenous peoples; to define clear measurements for progress; and to better coordinate between different levels of governments. 
  • Big investors may be looking to Canada’s home market 
    In the United States, investment firms have become the biggest buyers of new homes in the country, which has reduced housing options for middle-income earners looking to buy a home and contributed to rising rents. Some real estate experts believe that Canada’s housing market may soon become a target for private equity investors. There is a lack of data about the size of private equity investment in Canada’s homeownership market, though Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) hold a large percentage of the multi-family rental market. In some provinces, individuals who own more than one property hold as much as 41 per cent of all residences. The financialization of housing, where homes are increasingly becoming used to increase investments of financialized actors, is a significant driver of the current housing crisis across the country.  


NOVA SCOTIA 

  • Affordable Housing Commission claims progress in Nova Scotia housing crisis  
    The Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission released its last report, detailing the progress made by the province in addressing the need for affordable housing. The Commission says that 50 of the 17 recommendations and 60 actions in the 2021 report have been completed or are close to completion. The 2021 report recommendations were the result of a public consultation process involving surveys, workshops, and engagement with academics, community organizations, and housing experts. Despite the apparent progress advocates in the province are calling on their governments to stop forced evictions, support those experiencing homelessness and address the growing housing crisis.
     
  • New housing resource centre to help address housing needs of Black community
    The Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission released its last report, detailing the progress made by the province in addressing the need for affordable housing. The Commission says that 50 of the 17 recommendations and 60 actions in the 2021 report have been completed or are close to completion. The 2021 report recommendations were the result of a public consultation process involving surveys, workshops, and engagement with academics, community organizations, and housing experts. Despite the apparent progress advocates in the province are calling on their governments to stop forced evictions, support those experiencing homelessness and address the growing housing crisis.    


QUEBEC

  • [Français] Utiliser les revenus du cannabis pour vaincre l’itinérance, un bon pari?  
    Le conseil municipal de Lachine a adopté une motion appelant la Province à accroitre le financement des services en itinérance en réinvestissant une partie des profits provenant de la Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). Le maire de Lachine a déclaré que les $3 millions en financement provincial pour les infrastructures de soutien sont insuffisants pour résoudre la crise de l’itinérance dans l’arrondissement. Les ventes de la SQDC sont en hausse continue, avec des profits enregistrés de $75 millions en 2022, contre $66 millions en 2021 et $26 millions en 2020.
     
  • [English] Montreal’s Lachine borough proposes homelessness funding come from cannabis sales
    Montreal’s Lachine borough council passed a motion calling on the province to increase funding for homelessness services by drawing from revenue from the province’s cannabis retailer, the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). The Lachine mayor argued that the $3 million in provincial funding for public works is insufficient to tackle the ballooning homelessness crisis in the borough. The SQDC’s sales have continued to rise, with profits of $75 million reported in 2022, from $66 million in 2021 and just $26 million in 2020.
  • [Français] Vivre en Ville publie un index de solutions pour contrer la crise du logement au Québec Le conseil municipal de Lachine a adopté une motion appelant la Province à accroitre le financement des services en itinérance en réinvestissant une partie des profits provenant de la Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). Le maire de Lachine a déclaré que les $3 millions en financement provincial pour les infrastructures de soutien sont insuffisants pour résoudre la crise de l’itinérance dans l’arrondissement. Les ventes de la SQDC sont en hausse continue, avec des profits enregistrés de $75 millions en 2022, contre $66 millions en 2021 et $26 millions en 2020.
  • [English] Montreal organization, Vivre en Ville, releases index of solutions to Quebec housing crisis  Vivre en Ville, a research and education non-profit that works on sustainable urban development issues in Montreal, released a report detailing solutions to the housing problems plaguing the province. The report notes that almost 200,000 Quebec households spend more than 50% of their income on rent, area municipalities have very low vacancy rates, and a staggering 57% of units in Montreal are in need of major repairs. Portes Ouvertes recommends the de-financialization of housing markets, increased taxation of private developers and providers, increasing social and non-profit housing supply, the creation of a sustainable building sector, and action to prevent NIMBYism.
      


ONTARIO 

  • New provincial legislation gives mayors of Toronto and Ottawa new powers 
    The Ontario government passed contentious legislative changes that give the mayors of Ontario’s largest cities new powers, arguing that they are needed to address the housing crisis. The ‘Strong Mayors, Building Homes Act’ allows mayors to veto their City budget and override bylaws approved by City Council that “interfere with a provincial priority.” Councillors in Ottawa and Toronto can reverse a mayoral veto with a two-thirds majority vote.   
     
  • Almost half of shelter-seekers turned away in Toronto 
    A study of central intake data from the City of Toronto between November 2020 and June 2022 found that nearly half of people seeking shelter (24,556 individuals) were turned away. The majority – 81% of cases, were turned away because no shelter space was available at the time. In 16 per cent of cases, there was no space available that met the person’s needs, including for accessibility. The study questions the City’s position that there are enough shelter beds in Toronto to support those experiencing homelessness, including residents of encampments.
     
  • Housing advocates call on municipal candidates to take the Affordable Housing Pledge
    Right to Housing Toronto, a network of individuals and organizational supporters including CCHR that advocates for the City of Toronto to adopt a human rights-based approach to housing, is asking candidates for City Council to take the Affordable Housing Pledge. By taking the Pledge, candidates commit to deepen the City’s housing investments and ensure new homes are accessible to all, preserve existing affordable rental housing, ensure tenants have an active voice in the maintenance of their homes, expand eviction prevention supports, and facilitate ‘gentle densification’ of existing neighbourhoods.
     

MANITOBA

  • Manitoba government increases social assistance for the first time in years
    The Manitoba government announced a ‘Family Affordability Package’ to ease the burden of inflation of Manitobans. The package includes $63 million for families with children who earn less than $175,000 but also earmarks $16 million for seniors earning less than $40,000; both groups will receive a one-time payment. People living on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) will receive a small increase to their Basic Needs Benefit amounting to about $8 million; EIA recipients without children will get $50 more per month and EIA disability recipients will get another $25 per month. The increase is the first raise in social assistance rates in years. Advocates called for a larger increase to ensure EIA recipients can afford rising rents and other expenses necessary to live a dignified life. 

ALBERTA

  • Alberta government expands temporary rent assistance program:
    The Alberta Government has expanded rental assistance to more households across the province. The Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit (TRAB) will now include more than 80 communities across Alberta. The TRAB offers eligible Albertans a minimum of $100 per month to help them cover their rent payments.


BRITISH COLUMBIA 

  • Human Rights Commissioner calls for ‘social condition’ protections 
    After the attacks on people who are homeless in BC, including the murder of two people in July, the B.C. Human Rights Commissioner repeated her calls to include ‘social condition’ in the Human Rights Code as a protected class. This would prohibit discrimination based on economic condition, including housing status, employment (or lack of), source of income and other factors. Several other provinces and territories include social condition in their human rights codes, including Manitoba, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories and Quebec.   
  • City of Vancouver faces legal setback in setting limits on SRO rent increases  
    The B.C. Supreme Court quashed new bylaws created by the City of Vancouver which limited rent increases between tenants in single occupancy housing (also known as SROs). The new rules are meant to stabilize rents in single-room occupancy housing where those with the lowest incomes live by limiting rent increases on turnover relative to the rate of inflation, depending on the existing rent. The judge ruled that the City bylaw was outside the authority of the City of Vancouver to implement and that the Residential Tenancy Act governs residential rents in the province. The City is appealing the decision.    


YUKON

  • Yukon government release Draft Housing Plan 
    In response to a scathing Auditor General report that criticized the Territorial government’s response to housing need in the territory, the Yukon government released a draft housing plan. Data sharing and collaboration are priorities for the government, including better coordinating access to affordable housing. The plan has yet to be finalized, and the government says it will consult with First Nations, Indigenous organizations, municipalities and both for and not-for-profit housing organizations. Advocates called on the government to address the private rental market in addition to the social housing system, and to act with the urgency the local housing crisis requires. 
Get the latest updates about the right to housing in Canada