OTTAWA, Oct. 13, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - This afternoon, about 350 members of the Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) are demonstrating in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's temporary residence, in Ottawa, calling for a National Housing Strategy that is based on human rights and focused on social housing. This rally is part of a month of international housing rights actions that are organized in response to Habitat III, an event taking place from October 17th to 20th in Quito, Ecuador. Minister Jean-Yves Duclos will be representing Canada at this event, which will discuss cities' work plans regarding habitat and sustainable cities for the next twenty years.
The FRAPRU demands that the Canadian strategy, open for public consultation until October 21st, commits to formally recognizing the right to housing within Canadian law. This demand is based on a recommendation of the UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights which, in a report adopted on March 4th 2016, invites Canada to adopt "a national housing strategy that is based on human rights."
The FRAPRU also calls for the Strategy to invest an additional 2 billion dollars in housing each year. To justify this demand, the FRAPRU draws on official statistics that show that 1 552 145 Canadian households, including 989 385 tenants, have core housing needs. This number does not include the homeless population, which has been increasing across the country. FRAPRU's coordinator, François Saillant, urges "all government investments should target individuals and families who are poorly housed or homeless, rather than being sprinkled across all kinds of initiatives, including access to property, which isn't really an urgent issue in the current context." According to Mr. Saillant, investments should also focus on funding social housing: "if the Trudeau government is serious about wanting to fund housing that is truly and sustainably affordable, it must invest in non-profit housing that belong to the community."
Finally, the FRAPRU calls on the government to immediately confirm the continuation of subsidies for existing social housing units. In Canada, some 566 000 social housing units currently receive this funding, but this number is dropping year after year. In 2015 alone, 22 600 social housing units lost the subsidies they had been receiving from the federal government for decades. According to the FRAPRU, the loss of these subsidies has deeply negative consequences on the financial accessibility of social housing, as well as on its continued maintenance and good repair.
In support of the Fukushima refugees
After its rally in front of Prime Minister's temporary residence, the FRAPRU will then march to the Japanese Embassy. This demonstration is intended as a concrete gesture of support for the individuals and families who were forced to leave the city of Fukushima after the nuclear accident following the earthquake on March 11th 2011. The government now wants to force the residents of Fukushima to return to their homes as early as March 2017, cutting off their housing allowances. However studies done by a wide range of organizations show that the levels of radiation are still extremely high and pose a major risk to the health and lives of exposed individuals and families.
The FRAPRU action is part of an international support campaign for the refugees of Fukushima, launched on August 16th 2016 by three international housing rights organizations during the World Social Forum in Montreal.
SOURCE Front d'Action Populaire en Réaménagement Urbain (FRAPRU)
For further information: François Saillant (514) 919-2843 (cell), www.frapru.qc.ca, @FRAPRU