The Government of Ontario has launched a three-year anti-racism strategic plan to combat systemic racism by breaking down barriers for racialized people across the province, including Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities.
The government has heard from people that despite efforts to promote inclusion and equity, histories of slavery, colonization and institutions of our past continue to shape the present and create a further gap between racialized people and others. Following community meetings held across the province in 2016, Michael Coteau, minister responsible for anti-racism, released A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan. “During our consultations, I heard a Black father speak about how his four-year old boy had already experienced racism. I’m a firm believer that Ontario is a place of diversity and inclusion. I also know, just as well as that father and son do, that racism is real, and that government must actively work to eliminate it. This plan is our commitment to change how we do things. It’s our pledge to Black youth who come into contact with the law, Indigenous youth who are overrepresented in children’s aid societies and other racialized communities who experience disproportionate outcomes. Ontario is on a path to positive change and better outcomes. I am dedicated to leading this work, and I look forward to shaping a stronger future for all,” says Coteau.
The plan includes measures to help identify and eliminate systemic racism. It is also an acknowledgement that systemic racism — including anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, Islamophobia and racism experienced by other communities, including the Jewish community — is real, and can act as a barrier to achieving opportunity.
The anti-racism strategy includes:
Developing a framework for the collection of race-based data in various institutions, including the child welfare system and the justice, education and health sectors. Collecting race-based data is a valuable way to better understand where racial inequalities exist, which will help government work toward solutions to address it.
A new Ontario Black Youth Action Plan targeted at increasing access to supports and opportunities for Black children, youth and their families to address outcomes disparities.
Implementing an anti-racism impact assessment framework to help anticipate and remove unconscious bias in proposed policies, programs and decisions.
New legislation that would, if passed, ensure the sustainability and accountability of the province’s anti-racism work by providing a framework for government and organizations to identify and combat systemic racism.
Public education and awareness initiatives targeting racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism
“Today’s announcement represents an important first step towards addressing systemic racial inequities in this province as experienced by people of colour and Indigenous peoples,” says Avvy Go, chair of the steering committee, Colour of Poverty-Colour of Change. “We are very pleased our key recommendations have been incorporated, including the adoption of legislation and the collection of disaggregated data by the government into this Strategic Plan. Now, it’s time for us to continue to work together in order to make Ontario even more open and inclusive for everyone.”