Wednesday, March 9, 2016 



Talking About Abject Poverty  

Canadian's life expectancy drops with no national housing plan 

Jean Swanson, CCAP Vancouver


he United Nations conducted a 10-year review of Canada in February on its compliance as a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and will be releasing its concluding observations to the Canadian government on Monday, March 7th.


The UN Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights was signed by Canada in 1976. Article 11 of the Covenant says, "The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right."

But Canada has not been complying with this article and housing is a key area which has been neglected. There are over 200,000 homeless people in the country, 836 in our own Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, and thousands more living in abject poverty and deprived of an adequate standard of living. Indigenous people are disproportionately represented among the homeless population.

The government's refusal to build a national housing program is killing people, and in BC homeless people have about half the life expectancy as other residents. According to a 2014 Megaphone report, the median age of death of death for a homeless person in B.C. is between 40 and 49 years, almost half the life expectancy of 82.65 years of the average British Columbian.

The Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) is calling on Canada's federal government to meet the obligations in the UN Covenant on Social and Economic Rights. Because it is 2016 and because it is the humane thing to do.

CCAP wants the federal and provincial government to launch a national housing program that builds tens of thousand of units of social housing in Canada every year until we no longer have a housing crisis. "Housing is a human right, not a commodity, said Maria Wallstam of CCAP. "We need government action to take housing out of the speculative market."

"The housing crisis does not just affect people who don't have a million," added Wallstam. "CCAP is calling on the city, province and federal governments to ensure that federal and provincial money for housing is spent on ending homelessness and providing needed housing for low income people."

"Decent housing and adequate income are human rights," explained Joanne Shaw, a CCAP volunteer. "Let's hope Trudeau implements the UN recommendations and ends homelessness and poverty permanently."The CCAP works mostly on housing, income, and land use issues in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver so that the area can remain a low income friendly community. CCAP works with DTES residents in speaking out on their own behalf for the changes they would like to see in their neighbourhood.





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