August 21, 2020

Systemic anti-Black racism in Canada must be remedied: Urgent changes needed to help Black Canadians thrive

As expressed recently, Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) strongly endorses the report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) into the racial profiling and discriminatory practices of the Toronto Police Service and calls for the adoption of the recommendations made in the report. This second interim report, “A Disparate Impact”, presented in August 2020, is a follow-up on the OHRC’s initial report, “A Collective Impact”, released in December 2018. Both reports support the recurrence of systemic anti-Black racism in Canada including:

– Black people are more likely to be charged and over-charged by the Toronto Police (August 2020 report)

– Black people are more likely to be struck, shot or killed by the Toronto police (December 2018 and August 2020 reports)

“The causes of systemic anti-Black racism must be acknowledged and addressed” says Teresa Woo-Paw, Chairperson of the Board, CRRF. Furthermore, the situation must be remedied in a way that that is respectful of the lived experience of the Black community and work to rebuild trust with the Toronto Police Service.”

This month, Statistics Canada (StatCan) released a new analytical study in The Daily entitled “Changes in the socioeconomic situation of Canada’s Black population, 2001 to 2016”. This study focuses on the changes, or lack thereof, to the socioeconomic status of Canada’s Black population between 2001 and 2016 with an emphasis on disaggregated data on Canada’s Black populations. Differences between men and women, by generation, by birth countries and, for persons born in Canada, birth countries of their immigrant parents were analyzed.

Amongst key findings based on 2015 data, StatCan found a significant wage gap for Black men. For example, Black men aged 25 to 59 earned $15,000 less than other men ($56,000). While the gap between Black men and the rest of the male population was smaller among immigrants, it was much greater among the Canadian-born population. Second-generation Black men had the lowest median wage for men – $40,000. This was $22,000 lower than that of other second-generation men.

Our Race Relations in Canada 2019 Survey1 confirmed the reality of racism in Canada. However, this reality is not universally acknowledged by Canadians. Many Canadians across different racial backgrounds do report experiences of racism and discrimination, recognizing that it also affects others of their own race and from other racial groups.

These findings reveal mounting evidence that much more is needed to tackle systemic racism, especially that aimed at anti-Black racism for Black Canadians to thrive. To enable this, Canadians need to collaborate towards this common goal and focus on impactful policy initiatives. This often begins with education. CRRF’s work on the science of racism, introducing another systematic approach to the study of racism, can help open exciting new practices in our collective anti-racism work.

“The Foundation is committed to providing support for transformative education and training initiatives in the pursuit of eradicating all forms of racial discrimination in Canada,” says Ms Woo-Paw.

1 Undertaken jointly with The Environics Institute for Survey Research

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