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The Shift – International Human Rights Organization – weighs in on the May 17 motion and Bylaws

For The Shift's full statement, please visit their website at – we are only sharing portions here


Dear Mayor Nuttall and City Councillors,

We are the Global and Deputy Directors of The Shift, an international human rights organization focused on housing and homelessness, headquartered in Canada.

The Shift is deeply concerned by the City of Barrie’s recent policy motion and bylaw amendments that criminalize and further stigmatize those living in homelessness, as well as those trying to support them. We are also concerned that the motion and bylaw amendments have moved forward without adequate consultation with those affected or with the broader public.


The motion and proposed amendments place the city in violation of its human rights obligations.

The intention and effect of the amended by-law, if passed, is to deny people living in homelessness and poverty items that may be necessary for their survival. The proposed bylaw amendments stigmatize people living in homelessness and poverty, in particular by suggesting that providing them with life- saving measures outside of permitted channels constitutes a “nuisance”. Furthermore, it creates a hostile environment, intimidating residents of Barrie from engaging with people living in homelessness and providing them direct support.


The Shift reminds the City of Barrie of its national and international human rights obligations, including the implementation of the right to housing. This is in keeping with the federal government of Canada’s housing policy which, as stated in the National Housing Strategy Act, recognizes that housing is a fundamental human right as found in international human rights law.

According to international human rights law, homelessness is a prima facie violation of the right to housing because it undermines dignity interests, as well as personal safety and security. As such, it must be addressed on an urgent and priority basis, including through the development of solutions in consultation with people living in homelessness and their advocates.


Governments also have an obligation to combat and prohibit any laws that serve to discriminate, stigmatize and negatively stereotype those living in homelessness.



The Shift


Leilani Farha, Global Director and Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, and

Julieta Perucca, Deputy Director


We are so grateful to The Shift and other outside organizations who are weighing in on this motion and proposed Bylaws.

Again, for The Shift's full statement (the above is highly abridged), please visit their website at



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