Alberta UCP government’s anti-racism action plan met with criticism, questions

Of note:
Some advocates and the Opposition NDP say the Alberta government’s anti-racism action plan avoids taking important action.
Released on July 18, the Alberta government’s 20-page anti-racism action plan, presented as a “living document” that will change based on feedback, outlines three years’ worth of initiatives, including some the government has already done or begun to work on.Irfan Chaudhry, director of MacEwan University’s office of human rights, diversity and equity, said in an interview with Postmedia Wednesday the plan offers some constructive initiatives, but he doesn’t have much hope in it achieving its goals.

“I think it’s really weak,” he said

The action plan comes more than a year-and-a-half after the Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council, whose membership has since shifted, submitted a report to the government in January 2021. The public report with 48 recommendations was released last June, after the government had already announced action, including creating a hate crime liaison, a Hate Crimes Coordination Unit and the rollout of a grant program for religious and ethnic organizations to boost security against potential hate crimes.

Some recommendations of the council, however, including to mandate the collection of race-based data across government departments and police services, appear to have been either rejected, or relegated to another day.Over the next three years, the latest plan commits to developing data standards, and commissioning an expert report to guide the potential collection and use of race-based data

“There’s likely zero to no commitment from this government to any collection of race-based data … to me that just sounds like kicking the can down the road,” said Chaudhry.

In April, a UCP-led committee rejected a bill from NDP MLA David Shepherd that would have required the collection of race-based databy government.

Roy Dallmann, press secretary to Labour and Immigration Minister Kaycee Madu, said the government wants to get the collection of race-based data right, citing the historic misuse of such information.Alberta NDP multiculturalism critic Jasvir Deol said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” the government sat on the recommendations of the council for a year and a half, and then failed to deliver a comprehensive action plan, including avoiding committing to data collection

“The UCP has not carefully or mindfully consulted with community members on the actions that would improve the lives of racialized Albertans,” said Deol.

The plan promises to tackle public education and cultural awareness, enable skills training for racialized and Indigenous peoples, create new grant and recognition programs for racialized and newcomer Albertans, and help remove barriers to cultural organizations applying for grants.

Bukola Salami, an associate professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta whose research focuses on health and immigration policies, said in an interview with Postmedia there are good elements, including promised grant funding.“It’s basic, it’s general, but at least it’s better than nothing,” she said, adding there is much to still be addressed in terms of accountability measures, including protection from backlash for those reporting injustices.

“The question is will it push the needle? Will it make any much difference, without having an accountability piece?” she said.

Chaudhry said helping cultural organizations apply for grants is a critical step that can help address systemic bias. However, he said he finds it disingenuous for the government to commit to new grants,since in 2019 the UCP removed the Human Rights and Multiculturalism Grants program.

“I have a hard time buying what’s being sold on this one, because there has been a patterned, sustained removal of a commitment to anti-racism from this specific government,” he said.While the plan promises to act to ensure “inclusion and diversity training” for law enforcement officers, it does not make clear whether that training might be mandatory, and for whom.

The government said it’s currently reviewing the Police Act to modernize policing, including officer training requirements, but it referred specific questions about recruiting and in-service training to police services.

Chaudhry said a focus on further discussion with community groups can put off taking action.

“I don’t think communities want more talking or discussion, I think they’ve already ‘been there, done that,’ so to speak, and that’s where I think a lot of this is going to fall flat.”

While the government’s release noted that the actions “build on” the work of the council, Postmedia did not receive a response to an email to the current advisory council asking for comment on how the action plan relates to its work.Madu said in the news release announcing the plan that his government has shown a proven track record in dealing with racism, discrimination and systemic racism, but there is more to be done.

“This action plan serves as a road map for our province to confront and take steps to eliminate racism to ensure Alberta is a free, fair and prosperous place for everyone,” Madu said. In the document, Madu acknowledges the effort of the council, and of Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Muhammad Yaseen, who did the work developing the plan

Heather Campbell, a former co-chair of the advisory council, said in a Twitter thread shortly after the plan’s release that it’s “terrible and offensive.”

“There is so much ugly ‘collect information’ and ‘do nothing with the information’ in the document,” she wrote.

Dallmann said that kind of reaction to the first such anti-racism plan from any Alberta government is “unfortunate” because it downplays the importance of steps being undertaken.

“Given that this plan is rooted in the recommendations from the former (council) chair, we’re surprised she doesn’t recognize that this is a huge step forward to set Alberta up for increasingly successful diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts in the future,” Dallmann said.

Source: Alberta UCP government’s anti-racism action plan met with criticism, questions

Report from Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council takes aim at justice system, education and health-care layoffs

Of note. Bit odd weighing in on healthcare outsourcing but legitimate to note the disproportionate  impact falls on women and visible minorities:

Mandatory anti-racism training for the province’s police, prosecutors and judges and more content addressing systemic racism in the K-12 curriculum are among recommendations proposed by the Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council in its long-awaited report.

Released Friday, it calls for an in-depth education on the impact of hate incidents for all Justice Ministry staff, and to see K-12 students learn about the historical roots of racism and its impact on the present-day.

Source: Report from Anti-Racism Advisory Council takes aim at justice system, education and health-care layoffs