A civil servant fighting to keep her government accommodations has lost her appeal.
The woman is now under a court order to vacate her Iqaluit residence by Nov. 19.
She was resisting eviction after leaving the Department of Education, which offered her a housing benefit. In September 2020 she took a job with the Department of Health, which didn’t include housing with her position.
The Government of Nunavut’s appeals committee wouldn’t hear her case because there was no support from the deputy minister.
The territorial government successfully applied for an eviction order through the rental officer, so the employee turned to the Nunavut Court of Justice for a ruling on appeal.
She argued that the GN’s staff housing policy discriminates against single people. However, justice Susan Cooper found that there was no context or evidence provided to prove that assertion.
“It is not possible for the court to undertake a proper analysis of this ground of appeal,” Cooper stated.
The tenant also contended that the GN’s staff housing policy was incorrectly applied and she actually does qualify for accommodations through her employer.
Cooper noted that the GN’s staff housing policy sets out three priority categories: employees involved in health, safety, security and other essential services; workers integral to core government programs like education and personnel management; and hires who are deemed necessary to support departments in delivering programs and services.
As a territorial health specialist, the tenant who launched the legal battle feels she’s key to delivering core programs, but Cooper pointed out that the GN’s Staff Housing Allocation Committee never included housing with the tenant’s occupation and that was made clear in the job advertisement. It was also reiterated during her interview for the position.
Finally, the tenant argued that due to the housing shortage in Nunavut and because of the Covid-19 pandemic, she should not be evicted and possibly left homeless. She has been paying market rent for her residence since switching jobs.
“The court is all too aware of the dire housing shortage in Nunavut. The tenant is not unique in dealing with insecurity in housing,” Cooper stated. “But the compassionate grounds pleaded by the tenant apply to many. It is important that the staff housing allocation be seen as transparent and fair. There is no basis upon which the eviction order can be quashed. To do so because of the personal circumstances of the tenant, which are shared by so many, would be arbitrary and would seriously undermine and erode any confidence in the staff housing allocation scheme.”
In her Oct. 25 decision, the judge also ruled that each party must bear its own costs for the court case.