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Housing for All!

Housing in Canada

Canada has a past record of success in housing. Federal, provincial and municipal governments have funded many community-based housing projects that are providing good homes to hundreds of thousands of women, men and children.

However, governments decided to stop funding the development of new housing projects. In 1996, the federal government announced a plan to transfer responsibility for federal social housing programs to the provinces and territories.

If Ottawa continues the transfer, Canada will be the only developed country in the world without a national affordable housing program! Ottawa stopped funding the development of new affordable housing in 1992. The Ontario government killed its development program in 1995.

Only British Columbia and Quebec still have small programs to help develop new affordable housing. The overall rental vacancy rate -- proportion of units vacant -- for Canada dropped from 4.1 per cent in October 1997 to 3.4 percent in October 1998 and dropped again to 2.7 per cent in 2004.  Ontario has seen a steady increase in the vacancy rate since 2001 - the most recent studies report Toronto's vacancy rate at 4.3 per cent.  Soaring rental costs are related to this increase in Toronto and Ontario.

These rental vacancy rate flags the growing homelessness crisis. When there is not enough housing, and when homes are too expensive, people are forced out onto the streets.

Canada has signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights guaranteeing everyone's right to "an adequate standard of living including adequate food, clothing and housing."

Homeless people have no decent standard of living; our governments are therefore violating these Human Rights.

The latest federal budget came out in February 2005.  Unfortunately, not a single penny was allocated for new spending on social housing units.  We are continually hearing re-announcements of housing money promised long ago, but little to no action has been taken.  We are constantly told that the money and the housing will be delivered soon.  When is soon?  How long will homeless people have to live and die on the streets before our government with keep its promise?