Ontario’s Anti-Black Racism Strategy
The government’s roadmap for addressing anti-Black racism and improving outcomes for Black communities.
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As Ontarians, we pride ourselves in our multiculturalism and celebrating people’s differences. Diversity is our strength, but for some, it’s not enough.
The impact and consequences of our history have created systemic barriers that prevent people from fully participating in all parts of society. This is especially true for Black Ontarians of all backgrounds. Whether they’re recent immigrants or descendants of people who were enslaved, Black Ontarians live a shared present-day experience of anti-Black racism.
The stigma and stereotypes Black Ontarians and communities face have impacted public policies, decision-making and services. As a result, in nearly every measure of opportunity, security and fairness in our society, anti-Black racism is felt.
Black children are more likely to be in foster care or enrolled in lower academic streams.
Black men are more likely to interact with the justice system than their white counterparts at all levels of society.
Black women are more likely than white women to be unemployed or underemployed, despite having higher levels of education: 8.8% of Black women with university degrees are unemployed, compared to 5.7% of white women with high school diplomas.
The status quo is unacceptable. We cannot thrive as a society when certain communities face barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.
Why we need a strategy
Government has a responsibility to ensure everyone has equal access to life opportunities. This obligation means taking action now to address the inequitable outcomes Black people face. In the past year, we have worked to lay the foundation of sustainable change by:
- creating the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) and launching Ontario’s anti-racism strategic plan
- passing the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, which enshrines the Anti-Racism Directorate in law, and legislates an evaluation and renewal of the strategic plan every five years
- launching the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, a four-year, $47-million commitment to help reduce disparities for Black children, youth and families
- recognizing the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) to formally acknowledge that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose rights must be promoted and protected
The Anti-Black Racism Strategy (ABRS) is about targeting systemic racism in policies, decisions and programs, and helps us move toward long-term systemic change.
Elimination of disparity outcomes for Black Ontarians in the child welfare, education and justice sectors by 2024 to align with the close of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
Anti-Black Racism Strategy framework
Objective 1: Lead long-term change across systems
Real and sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight. We need to lay the groundwork for long-term change towards 2024 and beyond. This is why we’re setting targets to reduce disparities for Black Ontarians in the child welfare, justice and education systems. We will launch initiatives to better understand how to take a collaborative government approach to breaking down the intergenerational impacts of slavery and systemic racism.
- establish a Leadership Table with ministers, bureaucracy and community members to make policy and program recommendations to address systemic anti-Black racism
- conduct an economic study to understand the cost of anti-Black racism and identify initiatives and areas of change
- develop progress targets in child welfare, education and justice sectors based on available data
Objective 2: Build system capacity and competency
We need to make sure the right tools are in place to change the system within government and its institutions. By giving employees tools to understand the causes and impacts of anti-Black racism, and build it into their work, we’re setting the stage for sustainable transformation that results in better outcomes for Black Ontarians.
- develop and implement anti-Black racism capacity and competency building programming for government employees and its institutions
- report annually process of implementing ARD Data Standards and Anti-Racism Impact Assessment tool across government and public sector organizations
Objective 3: Partner with ‘early adopter’ service providers to study application on a wider scale
We’re looking at improving evidence-based approaches to reduce race-based disparities, including collecting and analyzing race-based data. Some institutions that serve a high percentage of Black Ontarians have begun to use anti-racism tools, and this presents an opportunity for the ARD to partner with these ‘early adopters’ to identify strategies that could be applied on a wider scale across the province. Through pilots with these organizations, we can understand how anti-Black racism manifests, and work in real time to address it. We can leverage what we learn from successful pilots and increase the scale for roll out in other parts of the province.
- scalable initiatives with partner broader public sector organizations in child welfare, education, and justice sectors to identify, monitor and address systemic racism
- evaluation of targeted initiatives to address outcome disparities
Objective 4: Increase Black community engagement and capacity
Histories of racism and discrimination have created unequal access to government-decision making processes for Black communities. We’re helping increase the capacity of Black community members and organizations to actively engage with government processes.
- support targeted engagements with Black communities and anti-racism advocates, including building stronger community relationships
- develop public annual reporting on targeted engagements with Black communities
Objective 5: Increase public awareness and understanding of anti-Black racism
Anti-Black racism affects us all. Public education will help create a society where Ontarians are aware of, and are better prepared to identify and challenge anti-Black racism. We’re developing public education initiatives to help raise awareness about anti-Black racism and its devastating impacts – and how we can create change together.
- conduct baseline research to assess the public’s understanding and perceptions of systemic racism
- create public awareness initiatives to increase understanding of the causes and impacts of anti-Black racism
Building on the work we’re doing
Initiatives directly impacting Black Ontarians
Independent Review of Street Checks Regulation, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS)
Justice Michael Tulloch is conducting an Independent Review of the Ontario Street Checks regulation. The Terms of Reference require input from the Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism.
Correctional Services Reform, Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS)
MCSCS will establish an advisory committee that will work in consultation with the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Anti-Racism Directorate’s Anti-Black Racism Sub-Committee and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services’ Black Youth Action Plan External Implementation Steering Committee to advise on measures to address the over-representation of Black inmates in corrections and support their reintegration into the community.
Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS)
The Ontario Black Youth Action Plan is a four-year, $47 million commitment to help reduce outcomes disparities for Black children, youth and families. This work will be addressed through four pillars:
- culturally focused parenting and mentorship
- early intervention and prevention
- access to higher education and skills development
- community outreach and promoting anti-violence
One Vision, One Voice (OVOV), Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS)
MCYS funded the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies to co-develop the OVOV practice framework with leaders from the African Canadian community, which provides children’s aid society staff and caregivers with anti-oppressive and anti-racist clinical practice guidelines, with a focus on anti-Black racism.
The ARD is partnering with broader public sector organizations to address anti-Black racism and develop evidence-based solutions that can be expanded within future provincial policies, programs, and strategies. Identified partners to date include:
School boards (K-12) with an emphasis on regions with a large proportion of Black students
Initiatives within school boards include:
- leveraging existing race-based data and research in the Toronto District School Board to examine discipline measures and develop alternative student supports
- working with Peel District School Board to monitor and track the success of We Rise Together: The Peel District School Board Action Plan to Support Black Male Students
- strengthening inclusive and culturally responsive and relevant teaching, curriculum, assessment and resources
- strengthening trustee governance training to include training on anti-Black racism and identity-based data collection
Children Aid Society of Toronto
Initiatives with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto include:
- staff training on anti-Black racism and anti-oppression
- public consultation on anti-Black racism
- development of case management tools such as an anti-Black racism intake tool that social workers can use before entering youth into care
- case review of all files related to Black children in care to identify patterns and themes that lead to disparity outcomes, or represent best practices when working with Black communities
Youth Justice Division (Ministry of Children and Youth Services)
- application of an anti-Black racism lens to the Risk Need Assessment and overall case management policies and process
- expansion of targeted programs and services for Black youth both in facilities and in community supervision
Correctional Services, Central Region Institutions (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services)
- core rehabilitative and life skills program delivery by Black and racialized staff for Black and racialized clients to support rehabilitation and lower recidivism
- piloting an enhanced life skills education series program (namely African Canadian Excellence) to address the cultural and rehabilitative needs of Black male inmates and offenders
- referring Black clients to culturally specific community resources and services that support reintegration
- evaluating the impacts of programming and program delivery through client perception surveys and, based on the results, expanding delivery to other institutions where demographic needs exist