Housing: Background Content


March 27, 2019


Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Homelessness, 2018

7.1 Addressing Indigenous homelessness

Indigenous Peoples are significantly over-represented among Canada’s homeless population as a result of colonization. This issue should be reflected in Homelessness Partnering Strategy funding and policies.
Overall, statistics show that the rate of shelter use for Indigenous Peoples is 10 times higher than for non-Indigenous people. When compared with rates of shelter use by non-Indigenous people, shelter use is 20 times higher for Indigenous seniors, and 13 times higher for Indigenous adults. 32% of Indigenous shelter users were female compared to 23.5% of non Indigenous shelter users.

The percentage of shelter users who report Indigenous ancestry varied widely by community, from less than 5% in some suburban communities to over 90% in many northern communities. In each of the communities where data is available, Indigenous Peoples are over-represented in homeless shelters compared to the general population. Given that the National Shelter Study only included emergency shelters in the homeless systems, this is certainly an underestimation of Indigenous homelessness in Canada.


7.1.1 The Committee recommends that Employment and Social Development Canada establish an advisory panel of Indigenous service providers, people with lived experience of homelessness, youth and jurisdictional experts to provide the program with input and advice on an ongoing basis.
7.1.2 The Committee recommends for the Indigenous stream that the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness definition for Indigenous homelessness be used as the program is designed and delivered.Footnote 16
7.1.3 The Committee recommends that the Indigenous funding stream be increased, that this stream be Indigenous-led, designed and delivered, and that a gender lens be applied in this process.
7.1.4 The Committee recommends that all Homelessness Partnering Strategy directives be reviewed through an Indigenous cultural lens and that Indigenous-led and designed training and cultural capacity programming be identified as a key component of funding agreements for all other funding streams.
7.1.5 All non-Indigenous streams are accountable for ensuring cultural competency for those agencies serving Indigenous Peoples.

April 1, 2019


Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy

First announced on June 11, 2018, Reaching Home replaces the existing Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and will continue to support communities’ efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada. Reaching Home supports the goals of the National Housing Strategy, especially the reduction of chronic homelessness nationally by 50% by 2027–28. Through Reaching Home, the Government of Canada is reinforcing its existing community-based approach by delivering funding directly to municipalities and local service providers. The Government will also expand the program’s reach to up to six new communities through an open and transparent process which is currently underway.

The Government will continue to work with communities to develop and deliver data-driven systems with clear outcomes. This new outcomes-based approach, along with the removal of all Housing First investment targets, will keep decision making at the local level and give communities greater flexibility to address local priorities and achieve results for the most vulnerable within their communities. Communities will also have three years to introduce coordinated access systems to prioritize those individuals most in need of housing and support services. The Government is committed to supporting communities through this transformation by providing tools and access to training and technical assistance.

A transition period is in place to ensure service continuity as communities implement the new elements of Reaching Home. Key components of Reaching Home:

  • Outcomes-based approach
  • Coordinated Access system
  • Homeless Individuals and Families Information System
  • Increasing the understanding of homelessness
  • Addressing Indigenous homelessness
  • Addressing homelessness in the territories
  • Addressing homelessness in rural and remote areas
  • Expanding the program’s reach