Immigrants get priority over ‘white’ Canadians for Ottawa’s public housing, human rights complaint alleges
By Gary Dimmock, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — An Ottawa man who was living in a shelter with his wife and two children took the City of Ottawa to a human rights tribunal last month, alleging that immigrants are given priority over “white Canadians” for public housing.
Kirk Munroe and his family lived at the Carling Family Shelter for months last year while waiting for a public housing unit to call their own. Munroe grew frustrated with the wait after immigrant families at the shelter were offered public housing in only a “matter of weeks.”
In his application to Ontario’s human-rights tribunal, Munroe quoted an Ottawa public housing manager as saying “whites have less chance of getting a home and they have to stay in shelters longer than immigrants new to Canada.”
The tribunal heard that the quick turnaround time for immigrants was in “distinct contrast to the experience of white Canadian families” at the shelter, including his own, who had to wait months for housing.
A lawyer for the public housing agency denied it gives priority to immigrants, and a lawyer for the City of Ottawa told the hearing that the immigrants in question may have been victims of domestic violence, which, he said, would account for why they were offered social housing so quickly. The tribunal also heard that the public housing manager denied saying that immigrants have a better shot at getting public housing.
Eric Whist, vice-chair of the tribunal, questioned Munroe’s account of what the public housing manager told him.
“This statement, characterized as an exact quote, appears to be more of a paraphrase and one from a longer conversation. It is also not evident that this quote, even if accepted as generally accurate, indicates that Ms. Jean Louis (a tenant service manager) was communicating that the reason why whites stay in shelters longer than immigrants was because of the policy of (Ottawa public housing) or others was to give priority to immigrants over Canadian citizens,” Whist said in an interim decision dated March 12.
Munroe’s challenge against the City of Ottawa claimed he was discriminated on the basis of race, colour, disability and reprisal.
Interesting that Canadians who pay taxes and fund public housing are always the last in line to get it. Welcome to Cana-DUHH.