OCASI welcomes Heritage Committee report on systemic racism and Islamophobia



Toronto/February 7, 2018 – OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants welcomes recommendations by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to update and reinstate Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism (CAPAR), and tackle systemic racism and Islamophobia.

The Committee released the report Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination including Islamophobia on February 1, 2018, at the conclusion of its study on systemic racism and religious discrimination.

The recommendations in the report echo the Concluding Observations for Canada by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), including many concerns submitted to the Committee by OCASI and allies in a joint report. The recommendations include providing measurable targets, deadlines and reporting mechanism for the CAPAR, collecting disaggregated data to measure the impact of public policy on eliminating racial discrimination and racialization of poverty, and making the needed investments to eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination. The specific naming of Islamophobia is encouraging in the current climate of discrimination and fear of faced by Muslims in Canada.

OCASI welcomes recommendations in the Standing Committee Report that the Government of Canada should complete the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure Indigenous children receive timely health care.

We are disappointed that the Committee did not call on the government to specifically address anti-Black racism. Several witnesses to the Committee had highlighted the need for targeted action, providing examples such as the disproportionate levels of ‘carding’ of Black people and over-representation in federal prisons. In light of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that Canada will officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015 – 2024) OCASI urges the government to ensure that the new Action Plan will explicitly address anti-Black racism as well as other forms of racism.

The thirty recommendations in the report, if fully implemented, would put Canada in a promising position to address systemic racism, discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia. OCASI urges the Government of Canada to begin work without delay on reinstating a comprehensive and robust Action Plan Against Racism, in consultation with the affected communities and commitment of resources needed for implementation.


Click here for "What Trudeau’s next step toward fighting racial discrimination must be", a joint Opinion/Editorial in the Toronto Star by Avvy Go - Clinic Director, Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic; Debbie Douglas - Executive Director, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants; and Shalini Konanur - Executive Director, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.