Ontario is facing a homelessness crisis that is leading to profound and devastating impacts on our communities. As the crisis continues into the winter season, the OHRC echoes concerns raised by local public health units, health care workers, faith leaders and advocates about the significant lack of cold weather services in Toronto, and across the province, for people experiencing homelessness.
failure to accommodate
Ontario is facing a homelessness crisis that is causing deep and devastating impacts on our communities. Informal encampments and forced evictions are a stark example of this crisis. Solutions to homelessness and informal encampments must be grounded in human rights-based approaches and delivered with respect and compassion.
The OHRC has launched Poverty POV (Point of View), to engage with the public, through a survey, key informant discussions and other steps, on their lived experiences with poverty, including homelessness, and mental health and addictions.
The OHRC is pleased that a recent Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) ruling confirmed it has jurisdiction to resolve Human Rights Code-related claims of discrimination by unionized employees.
The OHRC reported progress on the Right to Read inquiry. It also confirmed its plan to continue to monitor progress on inquiry recommendations and renews its call to all partners in Ontario’s education system to do their part to uphold every student’s right to learn to read.
Over the coming months, the OHRC will undertake a consultation related to poverty with a specific focus on affordable, adequate and accessible housing and mental health and addiction disabilities.
In developing rent-to-own arrangement programs, it will be crucial to focus on the important social role of homes as recognized through the Code’s specific protections against discrimination in accommodation. Every effort made to create innovative pathways to homeownership must be exercised without discrimination.3
Rent-to-own arrangements present a powerful tool to address decades of discrimination in accommodation that have prevented Code-protected groups from building generational wealth.
The OHRC is supportive of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s (MMAH) efforts to standardize rules for inclusionary zoning, and strongly encourages MMAH to take a human rights-based approach to this work. The OHRC believes this is an opportunity to strengthen inclusionary zoning to increase access to permanent affordable housing, especially for vulnerable tenants who generally are protected by the Code. As a result, the OHRC recommends there would not be any change that weakens the rules that govern inclusionary zoning.
The OHRC welcomes the government’s effort to address the housing crisis. As the government moves to implement More Homes Built Faster, it is vital to take a human rights-based approach to housing law, policies, programs and bylaws. This includes Ontario’s obligations under the Human Rights Code (Code) and recognition of the right to housing as affirmed in the National Housing Strategy Act.
The Right to Read report has garnered sustained and significant public interest and support from provincial, national and international audiences. The response has been overwhelmingly positive with leading reading experts and equality rights advocates from Canada and around the world acknowledging the report’s accuracy and significance.