Letter to Premier Ford on Passage of Bill 86, Our London Family Act

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Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Room 281, Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Ford,

RE: Passage of Bill 86, Our London Family Act (Working Together to Combat Islamophobia and Hatred)

On behalf of Unifor’s 162,000 members across Ontario, we would like to express our deepest concern regarding your government’s lack of movement and support towards the passing of Bill-86, Our London Family Act. As we continue to see an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against Muslim people across Canada and Ontario, the provincial government must demonstrate leadership by taking swift action and by working across party lines to ensure that people and communities are better protected from threats, persecution and attacks based on race, ethnicity, language and faith.

As a union, we work to raise awareness and oppose systemic racism and discrimination at all levels. Workers know we cannot do this alone. It requires a multi-stakeholder and multi-sector collaboration between government, labour, community organizations, faith leaders, anti-racism advocates, employers, academics and others to develop, implement and resource the necessary policies and programs to eliminate the conditions that allow for and reproduce racial and religious intolerance. 

We strongly support the proposals and amendments proposed in Bill-86 as they take meaningful and concrete steps towards tackling hate and Islamophobia in key policy areas. This includes greater restrictions against any political party or public rallies/demonstrations promoting hate against identifiable groups, strengthening anti-racism in the public education system, annual anti-racism training for frontline workers in public organizations, establishing an Ontario Anti-Racism Advisory and Advocacy Council and creating safe zones around religious institutions, just to highlight a few.

It is clear this Act is needed more than ever in light of on-going and escalating threats and attacks against Muslim people in Ontario and across the country. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has found that, in the last five years alone, more Muslims have been killed in hate-motivated attacks in Canada compared to any other G7 country. The intentional hate-motivated murder of the Afzaal family in London, the repeated vandalism of mosques in Toronto, and the very recent drive-by shooting of five Muslim men leaving Ramadan prayers in Scarborough, are just some of the horrific examples and outcomes when racism and religious discrimination goes unchallenged.

By refusing to support this Bill, your party and government has proven that it does not consider the safety and well-being of Muslims in this province to be a priority. In fact, this failure is just another in a series of deliberate acts aimed at hampering progress towards greater racial justice and equity in the province. We have previously condemned actions taken by you and your government that reduced the capacity of Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD), including removing cabinet minister oversight, dissolving the Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities and scrapping four of the ARD’s subcommittees.

It is not too late, however, to show Ontarians that racism and Islamophobia have no place in the province. We urge your government to pass Bill-86 before the dissolution of the legislature and the upcoming provincial elections. We must end the normalization of hate and violence against Muslims in Ontario and do more to ensure we promote safe and inclusive communities for all. We thank you for taking the time to consider this important matter and will be following-up with your office soon to discuss this in further detail.

Sincerely,
              
Naureen Rizvi                                         Christine Maclin
Unifor Ontario Regional Director         Unifor Director of Human Rights