Canada's federal housing advocate tabled decriminalizing drug trafficking in tent cities as part of a controversial report to Parliament.
Marie-Josée Houle, Canada's federal housing advocate, proposed several "potential solutions" to counter homelessness, in her report, Upholding Dignity And Human Rights: The Federal Housing Advocate’s Review Of Homeless Encampments.
"Suggestions for government included […] decriminalizing drug possession for personal use as well as the sharing or selling of drugs for subsistence to support personal drug use costs as well as the sharing or selling of drugs," it said.
Houle explained the tent city drug trade in her report as part of the local economy, while emphasizing the need to "treat encampment residents with dignity and respect."
Other "potential solutions" included banning evictions on tent cities, revising municipal bylaws, and providing free toiletries, showers, food and dental care, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
Upholding Dignity also suggested private security for the homeless encampments "to deter threats while not harassing residents."
"The report is intended to provide the foundation for deeper reflection on these issues over the coming months," she wrote, with a final report tabled to Parliament next year with recommendations. These "solutions" come from extensive engagement between Houle and the public, who became Canada's first Federal Housing Advocate in February 2022 under the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
An August 16 federal audit into the $3.7 billion Reaching Home program found that only 40% of homeless people who received aid overcame homelessness to become householders. Of 13,057 homeless people given federal aid in 2020, only 5,323 "remained housed" after a full year, said a Department of Social Development report Evaluation Of Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.
A Vancouver criminal defence lawyer in August posted to her X feed that B.C.'s 'extreme housing crisis' forced recent clients to decline bail for 'three hots and a cot' in prison.
According to a 2020 Metro Vancouver homeless count report, 107 people struggling with homelessness testified they lacked housing, having recently served time in prison.
A 2016 study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health concluded that "homeless and vulnerable individuals reporting recent incarceration were less likely to be housed over a two-year follow-up period."
The housing advocate lauded the importance of upholding the right of encampment residents to "exist as equal members of society and to live a life with dignity is at stake in Canada."
"Failure to provide access to basic services and meet the essential needs of encampment residents are not only a breach of the human right to housing and the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health but they may also amount to cruel and inhumane treatment," she wrote.