Housing and Human Rights in Manitoba

By River Woods

Last week, two of our housing advisors, Azarias and River, were invited to present at an online Town Hall event on the topic of housing and human rights. The event was hosted by the Canadian Federation of Students – Manitoba. The housing advisors presented on the services offered to newcomers to Canada by New Journey Housing and then stayed to learn from the next speaker, Karen Sharma, the acting executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. The housing advisors learned a lot from Ms. Sharma’s presentation!

They learned that The Human Rights Code “prohibits discrimination against individuals accessing housing based on various characteristics, including their ancestry, age, family status, religious belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability and social disadvantage.” The Code says that whether someone is renting, buying or selling a home, they are protected from being discriminated against based on who they are.

For example, did you know that a landlord cannot discriminate against a potential tenant based on where their income comes from? It doesn’t matter if the tenant’s income comes from employment, EIA, or a refugee sponsorship, the landlord cannot say no based on the source.

The landlord also cannot ask a potential tenant to pay extra months of rent in advance. And the landlord cannot ask the applicant to show proof of Canadian citizenship.

If a person believes they have been discriminated against, they should contact the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, who will investigate and determine whether there is enough evidence of discrimination to make a claim.

It is important for all of us to understand our human rights under The Human Rights Code so that everyone is treated in a right and fair way. We encourage you to read more about human rights considerations in housing. The MB Human Rights Commission has developed great fact sheets about human rights in housing. Human Rights Considerations in Housing guideline and Discrimination and Rental Housing factsheet

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