Canada must uphold the rights of persons experiencing homelessness

03 March 2021

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is deeply concerned and saddened by reports that an increasing number of people experiencing homelessness have died of exposure and unsafe living conditions in recent weeks.

The CHRC is calling for government efforts to address the housing need, particularly for those living in at-risk circumstances. Marginalised groups, including Indigenous people, Black and other ethnic minority people, disabled people, those dealing with mental health and addiction issues, women and children experiencing domestic violence, those facing economic hardship, individuals identifying as LGBTQ2S+ (lesbian, gay bisexual, trans, queer, and two-spirit), and youth are disproportionately represented among those facing homelessness.

As governments continue to take action to battle COVID-19, they must ensure that human rights are respected when taking measures to protect public health and safety. Measures meant to keep everyone safe, such as curfews or restricting the availability of services and facilities, should not put people living in precarious circumstances at a disadvantage.

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the CHRC said:

In a country like Canada, it is unacceptable that people experiencing homelessness die of exposure and unsafe living conditions every year. These preventable tragedies can be avoided by upholding the rights of persons facing homelessness and providing adequate housing and supports.

The CHRC has urged governments at all levels to mount a coordinated and swift response to ensure the right to safe, dignified housing for everyone facing homelessness across Canada. This includes implementing their right to housing obligations as outlined in the National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada, issued by the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing.

Source: Canadian Human Rights Commission


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