Led by the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO), tenant advocates and a group of homeless and inadequately housed individuals commenced a Charter application arguing that Ontario and Canada have violated the Charter by failing to provide an effective affordable housing program. The governments of Ontario and Canada brought a motion to have the case dismissed on the ground that it did not have sufficient legal merit.
ISAC was granted intervener status in the governments’ motion in coalition with the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues, PIVOT Legal Society, and Justice for Girls , and made arguments in court. Other interveners were Amnesty International and the Asper Centre. To read our factum arguing that the governments’ motion to strike should not be granted, click here: Right to Housing - Intervenor Coalition - Factum - April 15 2013
The Superior Court released its judgment in September 2013. Unfortunately, the Court granted the governments’ motion to strike and dismissed the original Charter application in its entirety. The court made a sweeping conclusion that the Charter does not impose a positive obligation on the state to provide for life, liberty, and the security of the person with respect to all government programs, including income security programs.
On behalf of the applicants, ACTO then appealed to the Court of Appeal for Ontario. ISAC was granted intervener status in coalition with the clinic system’s Steering Committee on Social Assistance and the ODSP Action Coalition. There were several other interveners including Amnesty International, ARCH Disability Law Centre, the Charter Committee on Poverty Issues, the Colour of Poverty/Colour of Change Network, the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and the Women’s Legal Education Fund. ISAC filed a factum and presented arguments at the hearing in March 2014, focusing on access to Charter rights for social assistance recipients. To read the factum, click here:
In December 2014, the Court of Appeal denied the appeal, deciding that the issues raised were policy issues not suitable for a Court to judge. However, the Court left open the question of whether governments can have positive obligations to protect Charter rights.
The applicants’ application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied in June 2015.