Canada’s COVID-19 Reconstruction Plan Must Address Systemic Racial Inequalities
September 8, 2020 / Toronto - The COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious economic and social havoc. It has exposed and made worse the racial inequities that already existed in Canada. Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC) calls on all political parties to address systemic and structural racial inequalities post-pandemic by releasing a Reconstruction and Reset Plan for Canada today.
“The evidence is in - Black communities and other racialized communities are at the greatest risk of contracting COVID-19. They are the most affected by health, economic and social inequities. It is racism and it is systemic. The question is what are we going to do about it? Our Reconstruction and Reset Plan is a good place to start,” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
COP-COC calls on Prime Minister Trudeau to listen to the voices of those who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic-triggered recession, particularly those from racialized communities, as he consults with the Liberal Caucus for ideas for the upcoming throne speech and the government’s new economic agenda.
“While our economy is at a standstill, racism has not disappeared in Canada. It will be a missed opportunity if the Government comes up with a recovery plan that simply puts everything back to ‘normal’ when the status quo has for far too long placed racialized communities at a serious disadvantage,” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director of the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.
The COP-COC Reconstruction and Reset Plan calls for policy and legislative initiatives that will reduce and/or eliminate systemic racism in employment, health, housing, immigration, justice, and poverty, among others. It recommends the creation of a National Action Plan against Racism which contains concrete strategies and the necessary resource allocation for implementation. It also demands the adoption of a federal Anti-Racism Act that names and addresses all forms of racism including anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, and Islamophobia.
According to a Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey released in August, 2020, there have been unprecedented increases in unemployment due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, and the impact falls most harshly on racialized communities. While the national unemployment rate for those aged 15 to 69 was 11.3% in July 2020, several racialized communities had rates of joblessness significantly above this average including South Asian (17.8%), Arab (17.3%), and Black (16.8%). The Report also found that South Asian (+9.1 percentage points) and Chinese (+8.4 percentage points) Canadians experienced a much higher increase in unemployment from July 2019 to July 2020, compared to other groups.
“The Trudeau Government is prepared to spend billions of dollars to stimulate the economy and help those who have lost their jobs. Given so many racialized communities including South Asians have lost their jobs at a much higher rate than other groups, we need strong Employment Equity measures at all levels of government to cure this structural inequality in the labour market,” said Shalini Konanur, Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.
The COP-COC has shared its Reconstruction and Reset Plan with all members of parliament and hopes that it will help inform the fall agenda of all political parties when the Parliament resumes.
Colour of Poverty - Colour of Change is a community initiative based in Ontario and is made up of individuals and organizations working to build community-based capacity to address the growing racialization of poverty and the resulting increased levels of social exclusion and marginalization of racialized communities (both Indigenous Peoples and peoples of colour).
The full COP-COC Reconstruction and Reset Plan can be accessed online at: https://colourofpoverty.ca/2020/09/08/cop-coc-reconstruction-and-reset-plan-for-Canada/
Avvy Go, Clinic Director, Chinese & South East Asian Legal Clinic at (416) 971-9674
Amy Casipullai, OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants 416.524.4950 (cell)
Shalini Konanur, Executive Director, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario at (416) 526-3484