Federal Housing Advocate asks National Housing Council to launch public hearing on corporate investment in housing
September 23, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Office of the Federal Housing Advocate
Federal Housing Advocate Marie-Josée Houle has issued a formal request to the National Housing Council to launch a review panel on the human rights impacts of corporate investment in rental housing, also known as financialization.
Canada is seeing a growing trend of financial firms using housing as a commodity to grow wealth for their investors. Financialization often sees these firms acquiring rental buildings and increasing rents or decreasing services to maximize profits. This trend is not only contributing to unaffordability across the country – it is also denying people their fundamental human right to affordable, dignified, and safe housing.
Research recently published by the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate confirms that financialization affects disadvantaged groups most, such as seniors, low-income tenants, people with disabilities, members of Black communities, and many others. It is linked to unaffordable rent increases, worsening conditions and a rise in evictions and renovictions.
This is the first time the Federal Housing Advocate has referred a systemic housing issue to the National Housing Council for further examination by a review panel.
Review panel hearings centre around public participation, particularly for communities directly affected by systemic issues. The hearing will provide an opportunity for tenants and others to share their experiences with financialization and the solutions they want to see.
The review panel – made of up of three members of the National Housing Council – will issue a report with recommendations for action that the government of Canada should take to address the financialization of purpose-built rental housing and advance the right to housing in Canada.
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“I look forward to contributing to the review panel’s hearing into the human rights impacts of financialization and its recommendations for rights-based solutions.”
“Review panels are a new access to justice mechanism that are unique in the world. I’m glad to see this opportunity for public participation to take action on the housing issues that are directly affecting communities in Canada.”
- The National Housing Council must establish a review panel if requested to do so by the Federal Housing Advocate.
- Further details about the review panel’s launch and opportunities to participate will be provided by the National Housing Council.
- Review panels are a participatory, human rights-based, access to justice mechanism established by the National Housing Strategy Act, which recognized housing as a human right in domestic law for the first time. Instead of hearing individual complaints about human rights violations, review panels hold hearings into systemic housing issues.
- The review panel will hold a hearing that allows for participation and meaningful engagement of individuals and communities who are affected by financialization. The review panel will also consult individuals and organizations with expertise on housing and human rights.
- The findings and recommendations of the review panel will be set out in a report to the Minister, and include the review panel’s opinion on the issue and recommendations to address it. The Minister must respond to the report within 120 days and table that response in the House of Commons and the Senate.
- News release - Corporate investment in housing linked to unaffordable rents, evictions, and long-term care deaths: study
- Key issue – financialization of housing
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