October 1, 2019
Jerrold Paetkau is right when calling attention to Parksville city council’s abandoning the cold-weather shelter at Orca Place. However, it is more than neglect. It is a violation of international human rights law. This is not mere rhetoric. In 1976 Canada ratified the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights including the right to food, clothing and shelter and an adequate standard of living for all.
By so acting, our governments – federal, provincial and municipal — became the ‘primary duty bearer’ for ensuring we all have roofs over our heads including those sleeping rough.
Today, our governments are constitutionally responsible for ‘respecting, protecting and fulfilling’ the right to housing. Of course the private sector, civil society and community groups have critical roles to play. However no level of government should be downloading their responsibilities to hard pressed and underfunded churches to act alone in caring for the homeless.