Lessons for housing providers from the 2017 National Conference on LGBTTQIA2S Lives

October 3rd, 2017 by Elliot Fonarev

Montréal Pride (Fierté Montréal) hosted the 2017 National Conference on LGBTTQIA2S Lives in August. I had the privilege of attending as a student bursary recipient. The acronym, “LGBTTQIA2S” stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, intersex, asexual, and two-spirited – in this blog I also use the term “sexual and gender minorities” to refer to members of this community.

The conference brought together community and cultural partners, university researchers, and government representatives for a discussion of the important issues facing sexual and gender minorities across Canada today.  The workshops highlighted how different civil society groups, academics, businesses, and governments have approached civil and human rights, health and family rights, social and cultural issues, employment and workplace inclusion, migrant and refugee issues, and international issues and movements.  The topics focused on different realities and identities within the LGBTTQIA2S umbrella, raising a broad range of issues affecting different people in the community.  The overall theme that emerged from discussions was that although there have been many recent gains with respect to legal recognition and formal protections of sexual and gender minorities in Canada, many members of the LGBTTQIA2S communities continue to experience high levels of insecurity and marginalization and remain vulnerable in every sector of life.

One community in particular should be of interest to our clients who house and employ individuals from the LGBTTQIA2S communities: migrants and asylum seekers who are sexual and gender minorities.  One panel featured settlement workers who work exclusively with sexual and gender minorities in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, spoke of the difficulty that many of these individuals, particularly transgender migrants, experience in finding housing.  These individuals are at risk of encountering multiple kinds of discrimination due to the intersection of their status as migrants and sexual or gender minorities, and often race or ethnicity.  Many sexual and gender minorities who are not migrants and live in social housing communities also report feeling unwelcome and unsafe due to their sexual orientation or gender as well as other intersecting identities.

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Protecting housing and human rights without limiting options

September 28th, 2017 by Michael Hackl

This article was first published on rabble.ca

Canada has been facing a housing crisis for a number of years now, with rising costs affecting both homeowners and tenants. According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, renters in Canada are spending an average of 22 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities. Further, this index reported that 40 per cent of renter households were spending more than 30 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities, and a staggering 19 per cent were spending over 50 per cent of their before-tax income on rent and utilities. Keep in mind that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) defines affordable housing as housing that costs less than 30 per cent of before-tax household income. This means that almost half of renter households in Canada are not in affordable housing, and one in five homes are spending over half of their before-tax income just to have a roof over their heads.

Imagine then, the relief that a family in Vancouver must have felt on being told that they had reached the top of a waiting list for a two-bedroom apartment that would have resulted in a significant reduction in their housing costs if they had been offered the unit. Unfortunately for them, the housing provider did not offer them the unit. At the time that the family was told that they were first on the waiting list, the family consisted of two parents and a two-year-old son, but the mother was seven months pregnant (and has since given birth to a baby girl). According to a voicemail left by a representative of the housing provider, they could not offer the family the unit because they did not know the sex of their then unborn child. For its part, the housing provider has said that the family was not being considered for the unit in any event, but the family feels they were passed over for this apartment because they have two young children of different sexes and the housing provider was unwilling to offer them a unit where those two children would share a bedroom.

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Iler Campbell at the CHFT Fall 2017 Education Event

September 27th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

The Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto’s 2017 Toronto Fall Education Event is October 21 at Oakham House on Ryerson’s campus.

Katie Douglas will be leading a workshops called “Am I allowed to …? What you can and can’t do in your unit”

You can read about the event here and register here.

Iler Campbell is proud to be a Gold Sponsor of On Co-op’s 2017 Provincial Co-op Conference

September 12th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

Please join us  at On Co‑op’s upcoming AGM and Conference – the program looks great. We’re proud to be a Gold Sponsor.

 

We’re on the road – again! Co-op managers: join us for a human rights workshop

September 12th, 2017 by Iler Campbell

On Friday, October 13, 2017, we will host our first IC Education event in Peel Region.  This event for co‑op managers is co‑sponsored by our friends at Peel‑Halton Co‑operative Housing Federation.

If you are grappling with human rights issues at the co‑op you manage, this may be the event for you. We’re going to talk about  how to distinguish a human right from a personal preference and how far the housing provider’s duty to accommodate extends and what the Rouge Valley decision from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario means for co‑ops.

And we’d love to see you there!  We have a few spaces left. To register, click here. 

B.C. is revamping its human rights system. How can it ensure justice is served?

September 7th, 2017 by Celia Chandler

This article was first published on rabble.ca

In August, the new B.C. government took an important step: it decided to reinstate the B.C. Human Rights Commission, dismantled by the long-governing Liberals 15 years ago. This was not the first time that B.C.’s governments have taken a run at the human rights system. This year’s NDP announcement mirrors its restoration of the Commission in the 1990s after it was previously abolished by the Liberals in the Social Credit Action of 1983.

And good on the NDP for their persistence! Human Rights Commissions across the country play an important public advocacy role. They keep a watchful eye on larger system-wide problems — the myriad ways in which groups of people who are protected under provincial human rights legislation can be discriminated against. In Ontario, the Commission has been responsible for engaging in public consultations and preparing policies that help guide our society towards a fairer, less discriminatory society for people who have faced marginalization historically and still do today.

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