Federal government puts right to housing into omnibus budget bill

By Geraldine Grones

The federal government has used its omnibus budget bill to legislate a right to housing and requirements for the future government not to drop the concept.

The budget bill sets into law the rules around the Liberals’ 10-year national housing strategy, worth more than $40 billion, and creates two new oversight bodies meant to make sure the spending alleviates homelessness.

A national housing council is to advise the government on the effects of the strategy, and a new housing advocate is to report annually on systemic issues preventing Canadians from finding affordable and safe places to live in. Every three years, reports on how well the strategy is meeting national goals and furthering “the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing” would also be required.

In each case, the minister in charge of the strategy would have to “reply and act” on the reports, said Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of Families, Children and Social Development, “which will ensure there is sufficient pressure on the federal government to meet the legislated right to housing.”

The Liberals have been looking into setting the right the housing into law since early in their mandate when they met with housing advocates about ways of putting more money into affordable housing. However, as time passed, those advocates became concerned about whether the government would have the time needed to pass a law before the next election.

Putting the housing strategy law into the budget bill is an acknowledgement that time is running short as, inside the bill, it is assured passage by the summer, according to a report by The Canadian Press.

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