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.
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.
As Kingsville Council moves forward in its review of the proposed draft Official Plan Amendments and draft Zoning By-Law Amendments, the OHRC urges Council to make decisions that are consistent with the Code and support the dignity and well-being of all community members.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission calls on the Government of Ontario to include air conditioning as a vital service, like the provision of heat, under RTA regulations and to establish a provincial maximum temperature to make sure that vulnerable Code-protected tenants are protected against threats of eviction for using safely installed air conditioning units.
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.
The OHRC understands that the Town of Kingsville’s study, Kingsville Temporary Foreign Worker – Final Report, has now been completed and will be discussed by Council on Monday June 27, 2022. Upon reviewing the study and the proposed recommendations, the OHRC is very concerned that the recommendations would, if implemented, continue to create discriminatory barriers to migrant workers living as full members of the Kingsville community.
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.