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North Island-Powell River MP introduces Right to Housing Bill

Bill would amend Bill of Rights to include right to appropriate and affordable housing
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney introduces the Right to Housing Bill on Dec. 7. Photo courtesy YouTube

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney took a step towards ensuring people in Canada have the right to appropriate and affordable housing.

Blaney tabled a private members bill to amend the Canadian Bill of Rights to give Canadians the right to housing, saying that the bill would “ensure that the right to housing is firmly recognized as law. It would redefine the federal framework for housing legislation and would set a requirement for the Minister of Justice to ensure every regulation change is consistent with the right.”

Blaney introduced the same bill back in 2016, but at the time it was voted down by Liberal and Conservative MPs. Blaney feels that since housing affordability has gotten worse since then, especially in her home riding, where, according to a press release from Blaney’s office, the average price of a home has doubled, rental vacancy rates are near one per cent and the amount of people who are unhoused has grown.

“There was a time when I was young where I saw a sleeping bag that I thought of times with family spent out camping. Now when I see sleeping bags I remember that there are so many people out on the streets across this country, carrying their bedding with them because they have no safe home to go back to,” Blaney said in the House of Commons as she introduced the bill.

“The fact is that owning a home has become an impossible dream and finding a decent place to rent is getting harder and harder every day,” she said. “Safe and affordable housing is increasingly out of reach… this bill would ensure that the right to housing is firmly recognized in law.”

The bill was seconded by the NDP critic for housing, Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan. It was given first reading, and will be back on the agenda the next time the house sits.

“The Liberals have agreed in their National Housing Strategy that housing is a basic human right, but we’re not seeing any action or accountability in our communities where it matters,” said Blaney. “Putting it in the Bill of Rights sets a requirement, and allows laws to be challenged in court if they are failing to meet that requirement.”

This story will be updated as more information is available.

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