The clearing of the Millennium Park homeless encampment in Prince George “amounts to a serious violation of human rights,” federal housing advocate Marie-Josée Houle says.
“The forced eviction of people taking refuge in Millennium Park ignored the fact that this is a crucial survival space for the city’s unhoused and unsheltered residents,” Houle said in a statement Monday.
“Canada has acknowledged that housing is a fundamental human right and that housing is essential to the inherent dignity and well-being of the person,” she said. “All Canadian municipalities have a responsibility to uphold the human rights of people living in encampments.”
She also raised an “ongoing concern that the City of Prince George is relying too heavily on policing and emergency services in their approach to residents who are unhoused and unsheltered in their city.”
She is urging the federal minister of public safety to look into the actions of the Prince George and “ensure that they are aware of their human rights obligations and are acting in accordance with human rights principles.”
The housing advocate repeated the suggestions she made to Prince George City Council in a letter on April 11, 2023, which urged the City of Prince George to:
- adhere to and promote the application of the human rights principles contained in the National Protocol for Homeless Encampments in Canada;
- recognize the distinct rights of Indigenous peoples and include them in the development of policy approaches to encampments;
- undertake a meaningful process of engagement with encampment residents, regional First Nations leadership, service delivery providers, and First Nations organizations;
- provide encampment residents with access to basic services such as clean water, sanitation facilities, electricity and heat; and
- de-emphasize the use of law enforcement as the primary response to encampments.