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National policy on homelessness: a step in the right direction

Montréal, February 27, 2014 – The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse welcomed today the Government’s decision to adopt an national policy on homelessness and the upcoming release of an action plan to address the issue.

“For more than five years, the Commission has been calling for such a policy that would be based of fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular social and economic rights,” said the President of the Commission, Jacques Frémont. He added that the Commission will review the policy and make recommendations to the Government, if need be.

Moreover, the Commission hopes that the Government will consult it and consider its opinion and recommendations on social profiling and homelessness when drawing up the future action plan. Such a plan should also take into account the right to reasonable standard of living, to housing, to health, to education, to work and to support measures for families.

In 2004, the Commission set up a special working group on homelessness – Groupe tripartite sur l’itinérance – which included representatives of the City of Montréal and community organizations working with the homeless. The committee’s work led to the implementation of a number of measures, including the creation of the specialized legal aid clinic Droits Devant and the Équipe de médiation urbaine. The working group was particularly concerned by the fact that tickets issued for minor offences disproportionately affected the homeless, and led to a large proportion of them being imprisoned for non-payment of fines.

Following this observation, the Commission released, in November 2009, an opinion on The judiciarization of the homeless inMontréal: A case of social profiling, which concluded that the homeless in are being socially profiled and are victims of discrimination which contravenes the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

In its opinion, the Commission had also made 14 recommendations to different levels of government, as well as to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, and offered detailed measures to be included in the policy on homelessness.

To find out more on the Commission’s work on social profiling and homelessness visit: www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/medias/notre-avis/Pages/profilage-social.aspx

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Contact :
Patricia Poirier
514 873-5146 or 1 800 361-6477, extension 358
[email protected]

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