Community groups welcome province’s announcement on anti-racism directorate



February 16, 2016

Community organizations working to advance racial equity and racial justice in Ontario welcome the announcement made by Premier Kathleen Wynne on her plan to establish an Anti-racism Directorate to combat racism in Ontario.

Colour of Poverty /Colour of Change (COPC) is a province-wide initiative made up of individuals and organizations working to build community-based capacity to address the growing racialization of poverty and the resulting experience of increased levels of social exclusion and marginalization of racialized communities across Ontario. Since 2007, COPC has been pushing for a racial justice agenda in view of the ever-growing disparities facing Indigenous Peoples and peoples of colour across this province.

Both COPC and the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) have been calling on the Government of Ontario to, among others, establish an Equity and Anti-Racism Directorate with a pan-provincial government-wide mandate to assist the Government develop an integrated implementation of comprehensive and inclusive equity and anti-racism policies and practices.

"We are pleased to see Premier Wynne finally heeding the call of the communities to move forward on the racial equity agenda, and making a commitment to create the Directorate,” said Neethan Shan, Executive Director of CASSA and Steering Committee member of COPC. “We thank the forty organizations from across the province that joined CASSA's campaign to establish this important step towards addressing racism in Ontario,” added Shan.

Racial disparities have been on the rise in Ontario, as evidenced in such areas as higher poverty rates and higher unemployment and under-employment rates even though members of racialized communities have a higher participation in the labour market.

"The Premier was correct when she said the Directorate is needed to address systemic barriers in accessing labour market for racialized community members,” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. “Having the Directorate create and adopt a “race lens” will help the Government properly analyze all of its policies for any impact on some of society's most marginalized members,” said Douglas.

"While we welcome today's announcement, going forward, it is critical that the Government of Ontario engages in a meaningful consultation process with members of our communities, before finalizing the mandate and priorities of the Anti-Racism Directorate,” said Mohamed El Rashidy, Vice President of Canadian Arab Federation. “Moreover, to ensure its effectiveness, the Directorate must be given the necessary power and resources to carry out its full mandate,” added Rashidy.

Minister Coteau has announced that he will establish an advisory group to work out the details of the Directorate.

"We look forward to working with Minister Coteau in order to ensure there is meaningful consultation process with all racialized communities groups,” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. “The establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate is an important first step to redress racial inequality in this province. More must be done, however, if the Government is serious about eradicating racism,” said Go.

COPC continues to call on the Government of Ontario to implement other necessary structural and policy changes including:

1) Establish an Employment Equity Secretariat fully mandated and adequately resourced in order to implement a mandatory and comprehensive employment equity program in Ontario.
2) Collect and analyze ethno-racially and otherwise appropriately disaggregated data across all provincial Ministries and public institutions.
3) Amend the provincial funding formula for publicly-funded elementary-secondary schools by introducing an Equity in Education Grant – a more robust redistributive mechanism rooted in a range of relevant equity and diversity measures and considerations – to ameliorate Ontario's growing ethno-racially defined learning outcome inequities and disparities.
4) Apply equity principles to all current and future government infrastructure investments - particularly renewable energy and “green collar” job-creating initiatives – to best ensure stable and sustainable futures for all.
5) Establish the Anti-Racism Secretariat as mandated under the Ontario Human Rights Code. COPC is eager to work with the Ontario Government to move towards racial equality.

For more information, please contact:
Avvy Go, Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, at (416) 971-9674
Neethan Shan, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, at (416) 824-3399
Mohamed El Rashidy, Canadian Arab Federation, at (647) 896-8285
Amy Casipullai, OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, at (416) 524-4950