MPP Hunter and MPP Coteau Letter to the Premier re: Anti-Black Racism

  • Provincial News

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

Dear Premier Ford:

It has now been five months since you conceded systemic racism is real and we must take concrete efforts to end it, in response to protests by Black Lives Matter activists around the world following the killing of George Floyd and our questions in the Legislature.

Since then, other than heeding our calls to collect race-based data related to COVID-19 and recreating a youth advisory council your government had previously scrapped, your government has done little to address the problem of systemic racism in Ontario.

The time is long past for you to take action on this critical issue given some of the decisions you have made since taking office has set us back.
Accordingly, we would encourage you to take the following actions, many of which we first suggested to you this spring but have not been acted upon as yet:

  1. Restore the full funding and scope to the Black Youth Action Plan so we can work to support our young people to engage them in community service, entrepreneurship and other important programs. COVID-19 is having a severe effect on Black youth, many of whom live in hotspot areas.
  2. Restore the full scope to the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) and restore the full funding of $5.6 million spent by the previous Ontario Liberal government. (Despite what your Solicitor General may claim, you have cut funding to the ARD to $3.55 million in 2018-19 and to $4.9 million in 2019-20, according to your government’s own financial statements.) The ARD lacks a mandate from this Minister and is at risk of losing talented
    and experienced staff to lead its vital activities.
    a. Resume community consultations and deliver an updated 3-year Anti-Racism Strategy, as required by legislation.
    b. Restore the sub-committees of the ARD that worked with various communities, including faith groups, to take action against discrimination, including anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, the effects of colonialism and racism in all its forms.
    c. Mandate the ARD to establish the cross-ministry collection of race-based data, specifically when it comes to layoffs, unemployment, and business closures during COVID-19. Cross ministry approach for the collection of race-based data to prioritize education, justice, health, economic outcomes.
  3. Uncouple the Anti-Racism Directorate from the Ministry of the Solicitor General — which is responsible for prisons and policing — and place it in a more appropriate ministry, such as Children, Community and Social Services, and ensure there is a focus on a whole-of government approach to anti-racism work that stresses education and economic
    empowerment.
  4. Direct your Minister of Economic Development to implement strategies and actions to support entrepreneurship by Black-owned businesses, using the recent announcement by the federal government for Black entrepreneurs as a model.
  5. Strike a select committee of the Legislature with representation from all parties to review the changes you made to police services, which undid reforms put in place by the previous government, in order to make recommendations on how to reform police services and their interactions with Black and Indigenous people, and people of colour.
  6. Restore the cuts you made to OSAP, which was specifically helping Black and other minority ethnic students attain post-secondary education.
  7. Restore the $25 million in funding to the Education Other budget which went towards programs for youth from low-income backgrounds to receive support and essential programming at schools including summer employment, violence intervention.
  8. Support and expand programs to ensure equity and diversity are fostered throughout the Ontario Public Service, so our government reflects the diversity of Ontario.
  9. Restore funding to Legal Aid and instruct your Attorney General to bring special focus to legal support for racialized people.
  10. Take immediate steps to effect positive change in Ontario’s education system. It’s not enough to celebrate Black History Month – we must seek to enlighten Black children and non-Black children about Black history. We expect you to make this a mandatory part of Ontario’s curriculum where the true history of Black People in Canada is taught in our
    schools.

Premier, anti-racism work requires diligent, coordinated efforts by government and the whole of society. It requires a long-term vision and a firm commitment to a multi-year strategy that will effect real systemic change. In the intervening months since you first conceded systemic racism
is real, your government has failed to take meaningful action. We urge you to change course and make this a real and enduring priority.

We are available to assist you in any way with these important and vital priorities.

Sincerely,

Michael Coteau, MPP Don Valley East

Mitzie Hunter, MPP Scarborough-Guildwood