Ontario’s anti-racism directorate is a promising start: Op-ed

Commentary from community activists on Ontario’s planned anti-racism directorate and their proposed additional measures to reduce racism. Overly ambitious, given resource and other constraints (e.g., across all ministries and institutions – some prioritization would be helpful), but helpful to internal and external discussion of scope:

The Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, on the other hand, is understood to be part of the government apparatus and is tasked with, among other things, helping the government to “apply an anti-racism lens in developing, implementing and evaluating government policies, programs and services.”

A promising start, but this anti-racism lens should also be used to evaluate legislation. Moreover, we are not convinced that the adoption of an anti-racism lens alone will eradicate racism. Clearly, there are a few more things that the directorate should and can do.

The directorate can be a repository of anti-racism expertise that different government departments can draw on in order to address racism systematically, and be responsible for research, analysis, and policy development based on the data collected and expertise of staffers.

It should take the lead in the creation of provincial standards for race-based data collection, and intra-governmental and inter-governmental implementation of the disaggregated data collection policies.

It must support the policy, legislation and program development and design process across the Ontario government by applying a racial justice lens so as to mitigate any harmful impacts on racialized communities (both First Peoples and peoples of colour).

And finally it should be a point of contact for communities to share their experiences, concerns and ideas about identifying and dismantling all forms of racism in Ontario

And to ensure greater accountability and government support, the head of the Anti-Racism Directorate should have the same power and role as a deputy minister, and be given similar capacity and budget as that assigned to the Ontario’s Woman Directorate and the Office of Francophone Affairs.

The establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate is an important first step to redress racial inequality in this province. More must be done, however, if the government is serious about eradicating racism.

The government of Ontario must implement other necessary structural, program and policy changes including:

  • Establishing an Employment Equity Secretariat fully mandated and adequately resourced in order to implement a mandatory and comprehensive employment equity program in Ontario.
  • Collecting and analyzing ethno-racially and otherwise appropriately disaggregated data across all provincial Ministries and public institutions.
  • Amending the provincial funding formula for publicly funded elementary and secondary schools by introducing an Equity in Education Grant – a more robust redistributive mechanism rooted in a range of relevant equity and diversity measures and considerations – to ameliorate Ontario’s growing ethno-racially and otherwise defined learning outcome inequities and disparities.
  • Applying equity principles to all current and future government infrastructure investments – particularly renewable energy and “green collar” job-creating initiatives – to best ensure stable and sustainable futures for all Ontarians.
  • Establishing both the Anti-Racism as well as Disabilities Secretariats as mandated under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Minister Coteau has indicated that he will set up an advisory body to assist him with the next step. It is critical for the minister to engage in a full and meaningful consultation process to ensure that the voices of racialized communities are heard and included.

Source: Ontario’s anti-racism directorate is a promising start | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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