Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, told a meeting at Tropicana Community Services in Toronto last week that the Ontario government is ready to take on the responsibility to dismantle systemic racism in the province.
And he noted that the recently released $47 million Ontario Black Youth Action Plan – ” the single largest investment dedicated to Black youth in the history of the province” – is one of the ” important pieces” in the provincial government’s Anti-Racism Strategic Plan.
The four-year Action Plan will support more than 10,000 Black children, youth and their families in education and employment, and also assist those in conflict with the law.
New investments will be available in communities including the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Ottawa and Windsor, based on need.
Noting that there are 70,000 young people in Ontario who are not working, not going to school or not in a training program, Coteau told the meeting of Black youth, community leaders and youth service sector providers that ” now more than ever the community needs support.”
Discussing the implementation of the Action Plan, he said ” we need to put in place supports necessary to provide them (young people) with the opportunities to reach their full potential.
But he noted that there are many barriers in place.
“Many of these barriers are symptoms of systemic racism – things that are deeply implanted in the institutions and organizations that are really there to protect and advance us but they don’t do that, ” he said.
Specific initiatives in the Action Plan will be developed based on discussions with the community and through an implementation steering committee, to ensure that recommendations from Black community leaders are reflected in ongoing work, he explained.
Eliminating systemic racism and advancing racial equity is part of Ontario’s plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives, Coteau said.
Recently obtained figures provided by the Ontario government show that Black students become “early leavers” of high school at higher rates – in Toronto, 23 per cent, compared to 12 per cent of white students.
The figures also show that Black youth across the province are unemployed at nearly two times the provincial rate.