Toronto Community Housing should prioritize tenants’ human rights: Ombudsman

The Toronto skyline is seen on Aug. 5, 2022. Ryan Rocca / Global News File

Toronto’s ombudsman is calling on the city’s social housing provider to respect and protect tenants’ human rights.

In a new report, Ombudsman Kwame Addo said Toronto Community Housing Corporation is sharing incorrect and misleading information about its human rights complaint process.

He said the corporation referred tenants to an office that had not been active for several years and had wildly outdated policies and procedures.

“Human rights are fundamental rights, and TCHC has legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code to respect them,” Addo wrote.

“However, my investigation found that TCHC has not treated the human rights and dignity of its tenants with the priority they deserve. This is unacceptable.”

The ombudsman launched his investigation after a number of tenants complained that the social housing provider was failing to support tenants’ needs for medical accommodations and ignoring the impact on tenants of living next to someone regularly yelling ethnic slurs at them.

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Addo said Toronto Community Housing Corporation should make sure the information it shares about its process for human rights complaints is accurate and called for it to update its human rights policy and human rights complaint procedures.

“We were concerned that TCHC did not have a system in place to carefully assess and respond to the human rights needs of its tenants and that TCHC staff were potentially overlooking issues that involved the legal rights of tenants,” Addo said.

Addo said the delay in updating the TCHC policies was a major failing.

Toronto Community Housing Corporation said Friday that it “supports the findings of the Ombudsman’s office.”

“We respect the human rights and dignity of our tenants and are committed to improving the way that we receive, investigate and resolve tenant Human Rights concerns,” it wrote in a statement.

“We have been working closely with the Ombudsman’s office and our review process will incorporate recommendations made in the report.”

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