Jeffers calls for civilian oversight of Ontario Human Rights Commission

Kenneth Jeffers

Kenneth Jeffers, the lone Black member of the Toronto Police Service Board and longtime community  proactivist, is  calling on Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to  establish a civilian oversight Board of  the Human Rights Commission with a standing sub-committee to address anti-Black racism issues.

In a letter to Premier Wynn following a meeting last Thursday of  the newly formed Expose Toronto Committee (ETC) ,  at  which he was the keynote speaker,  Jeffers noted the ” expressed emotional and physical  pain ” of  several speakers at  the  meeting who  had experienced racism in the workplace in both the private and public sector.

“Some of the testimonials were graphic and extremely disturbing.  For example, two members of staff in the City of Toronto were traumatized by the presence of three custodial staff dressed as the KKK and seven years later they have had no resolution or satisfactory intervention by the province or the City,”  said Jeffers who represents the ETC.

Noting  the impact  of workers being “victimized, harassed and humiliated,” Jeffers  said that few  people would know  “of  the domino  effect on family and  friends  when their  mental  health  becomes  severely challenged.”

“Although we have not been privy to the statistical data of CAMH [The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health] , we have every reason to believe that African Canadian women in particular have received the majority of attacks.”

“I have attached for your perusal a few of the testimonials in which the victims felt that they wanted you to be directly aware of what is occurring in the Province with less than effective support from CAMH and the Human Rights Commission in  particular,” he told  Wynn in his letter.

Jeffers  praised  the ” unprecedented establishment “of the province’s  Anti racism Directorate and the developmental grants for the progressive improvement for African Canadian young people.

But in  view of  “the concerns for the health and  safety of African Canadian workers in both the public and private sector ,” he is  calling  on Wynn to meet  with the  ETC  to discuss  the  setting  up of  the  proposed  civilian  oversight  Board  ” in consultation with the Anti Racism Directorate and Justice Michael Tulloch”  who headed  the recent independent  review of Ontario police oversight bodies.