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Final Report: Upholding dignity and human rights: the Federal Housing Advocate's review of homeless encampments
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Canada's homeless encampments are a national human rights crisis.

A growing number of people in Canada are having to live in tents or informal shelters to survive due to a lack of affordable housing, limited support services, and nowhere safe to go. Recognizing the severity of this crisis, the Federal Housing Advocate launched a systemic review of encampments in February 2023. This systemic review has been carried out pursuant to subsection 13.1(1) of the National Housing Strategy Act.

In October 2023, the Advocate published an interim report setting out the context of the crisis and documenting in detail what had been heard through the engagement process. The engagement process consulted directly with people living in encampments, local community advocates, Indigenous governments and representative organizations, and duty-bearers across all governments.

What has emerged is a clear picture of a two-fold human rights crisis.

First, encampment residents are at dire risk of harm due to the failure to uphold their basic rights.

Second, the encampments exist only because of a larger, systemic failure to uphold the right of all people to adequate housing without discrimination.

The engagement process made it clear that Canada has the capacity to solve this crisis. Encampment residents are acutely aware of the measures required to meet their most pressing needs. What is lacking is sufficient political will, resources and coordination.

The absence of effective coordination between the many agencies, departments and jurisdictions involved limits the effectiveness of responses to the homelessness crisis. While municipalities are on the frontlines in responding to encampments, they don't have all the powers and resources they need to provide human rights-based services. Provinces and territories must work closely with municipalities and the federal government must play a leadership role.

This national crisis calls for a national response.

The Advocate's final report on encampments in Canada calls for a National Encampments Response Plan and makes final recommendations to governments at all levels.

Author: Marie-Josée Houle
Topic: Housing and homelessness
Publisher: Canadian Human Rights Commission
Location: Canada
Format: Report, Reports/Articles
Content Type: Research
Publication Date: February 13, 2024