In May 2007, the Commission initiated a public consultation with the launch of background and consultation papers both entitled Human Rights and Rental Housing in Ontario. Beginning in June 2007, the Commission held public and private meetings in four cities across the province to hear about the extent of the problems and to identify potential solutions. Around 130 organizations and an additional 24 individuals participated in afternoon consultation meetings in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, Sudbury and Toronto, and over 100 people participated in evening sessions in these locations. Hundreds more participated in other events including sessions held by other organizations throughout the fall of 2007. As well, between May and September 2007, the Commission received written submissions and surveys from over 60 organizations and 100 individuals, representing a variety of perspectives including those of tenant advocates and housing providers.
Based on its research and this consultation, the Commission has now produced a consultation report called Right at home: Report on the consultation on rental housing and human rights and a brief summary report. This report talks about the challenges faced by individual tenants and housing providers, and identifies significant systemic and societal barriers in Ontario’s rental housing system. The framework for action set out by the Commission is based on the recognition that we must all work together, through partnerships and creative solutions, to make the substantive and long-lasting changes that are warranted. We all have a role to play in understanding and eliminating housing discrimination in Ontario.
Given the continued existence of human rights impacts of the provincial housing system, a key priority is for government to make a coordinated effort to review the availability of, and access to adequate and affordable housing from a human rights perspective. The Commission recommends developing a national or provincial housing strategy, and implementing recommendations made by international bodies including the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Commission also recommends that a wide range of organizations work together to develop a provincial strategy to address not-in-my-back-yard opposition to affordable housing. The Commission looks forward to working with housing provider associations and tenant advocates to raise awareness of human rights in rental housing and identify ways to make sure that housing providers have the support they need to proactively comply with the Ontario Human Rights Code.