The Government of Ontario’s recent introduction of a new Anti-Racism Act is a positive first step toward addressing systemic racism, with the potential to provide important data to better understand the depth and breadth of barriers experienced by racialized and Indigenous people.
“This will help to identify entrenched racism in policies and the delivery of services across the province,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “A commitment to a multi-year anti-racism strategy will help in the goal of achieving racial equality for all Ontarians.”
The new Act was introduced by Michael Coteau, Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, on March 29, 2017, just weeks after the release of A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan.
Unifor believes the Government’s commitment to educational initiatives and public awareness campaigns, combined with the promise to create an action plan for black youth to help break down racial barriers and build equity, is increasingly important in the context of the current social and political climate.
In recent months, an increase in the incidence of hate crimes and a proliferation of hate speech fueled by anti-migrant, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim sentiment has drawn attention to xenophobia and racism. It is not a new problem, but current events have made racism harder for people to ignore. The historic and current treatment of Indigenous peoples, systematic exclusion of people of colour, the former head tax and anti-Islamophobia all speak to longstanding racism in Canada. Racism is deeply embedded in educational, social and political institutions throughout Canada and it has allowed prejudice, discrimination and resulting disadvantage to flourish and grow. Canada is desperately in need of a better way forward and that must include education and training to unlearn racism.
Unifor’s experience tells us that building equity takes commitment, genuine effort and resources. The new Anti-Racism plan in Ontario offers these key elements and Unifor looks forward to seeing it put into action.