Ontario’s government unveils fight against systemic racism

Race-based data set to measure inequities in Ontario, minister tells Thorncliffe meeting

The Ontario government revealed a three-year action plan to fight systemic racism on March 7.

This public meeting was held at the Thorncliff neighbourhood office near Flemingdon Park — the heart of the most diverse community in Canada, according to Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services.

MPP Michael Coteau at Scarborough’s anti-racism directorate last October.  James Dalgarno/Toronto observer

Joined by other cabinet ministers, including Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, Minister of Indigenous Education and reconciliation, Couteau announced the strategic plan, titled “A Better Way Forward,” with an investment of $47 million to take steps to end systemic racism.

Affecting institutions in particular, it will include collecting race-based data, developing a plan to apply an anti-racism perspective for decision making, and their first anti-racism legislation to launch this spring.

“Despite the fact that we live in the largest most diverse province in the country, we have a problem with racism,” Coteau said. “Our government is ready to take responsibility and to make change.”

Coteau said the action plan will help eliminate dramatic disparities between black and non-black youth in Ontario.

He wants black youth in Ontario to know that their lives matter.

“We have reached a critical point in anti-black racism in the province that we need to address — I want the black youth of Toronto to know that we care about them,” Coteau said.

Not everyone is pleased with the government’s approach.

Leah Zeleke, a second year psychology major at York University expressed frustration over their “strategic plan” to end racism.

She said the province doesn’t need to collect race-based data and hold public meetings to identify the disparities that black youth experience.

“I don’t agree that a three year, $47-million plan will change anything,” Zeleke said. “It takes more than just a policy to end systemic racism, and you don’t need data to prove that blacks are less likely to be given employment opportunities.”