The province of Ontario is embarking on an anti-racism strategy. It will begin with an economic study to quantify the cost of racism.
The strategy will determine how the Ontario government plans to tackle disparities for black people in the province in the areas of child welfare, education and justice. It will look at the intergenerational impacts of slavery, racial stigmatization and current systemic racism and develop a plan to fight racism.
The three-year plan is called "A Better Way Forward."
"We know that by 2031, about half of the people in this province will be racialized. We know that racism is on the rise. There was a 600 percent increase on racist terminology and use online last year alone. We believe as a government, that we need to get ahead of this," said Michael Coteau, the minister of Children and Youth Services.
The plan is to collect race-based data from the child welfare system, the justice system as well as the education and health sectors.
Coteau says it’s not just a social issue, but also an economic one. The information gathered will help government develop policies to address racial inequalities and identify unconscious prejudices in government programs or decisions. It will also include an Ontario Black Youth Action Plan.
"We’re going to look for ways to uplift young people who may be potentially at risk. We’ve seen the numbers here in Toronto and people don’t really know these numbers. But over the last decade in the city of Toronto, there's been about 150 young people, 21 and under, murdered in the city. The majority of those young people have been black," Coteau said.
Coteau admits the strategy is not going to end hundreds of years of racism overnight, but it will help make the government accountable in the fight to end discrimination and inequality facing the black community in Ontario.