Ontario MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), the NDP’s Anti-Racism critic, says it is become increasing clear that the response of the government of Premier Doug Ford to the current COVID-19 pandemic is leaving more and more Ontarian behind.
A report released last week by the Toronto Foundation showed that COVID-19 is deepening the divide between the rich and poor along racialized lines – disproportionately impacting the lives of Black, Indigenous and racialized Ontarians.
“Years of Liberal neglect and Conservative government’s failure to invest in our communities have left vulnerable Ontarians alone to navigate the impacts of COVID 19. Racialized communities are in a crisis. There are no targeted supports in sight from this government,” said Lindo during question period last week at the Ontario legislature.
“We need a provincial strategy to address this deepening divide,” she suggested.
“Will the premier commit to creating a provincial strategy to address the root causes of racism that have left racialized communities more vulnerable to this pandemic?,” asked Lindo.
Replying on behalf of the Premier, Ted Arnott, Minister of Children. Community and Social Services, said” we’ve been working extremely hard throughout the pandemic to ensure that we’re getting supports to those who need it most, and many come from the area that the individual across the aisle has just mentioned.”
But Lindo went on to say that the connection between structural racism and the pandemic is being recognized across the province. She noted that in 2011, under the Liberal government, public health planners in Kitchener warned that there were five neighbourhoods at risk of poor health outcomes — but the government took no action at all based on those stunning findings.
These neighbourhoods, she said, are highly racialized, face low employment, high poverty rates and are where newcomers can afford to settle in Kitchener.
“Now, under the Conservatives, residents from these five neighbourhoods – a combined population of 85 thousand people – have been hit harder by this pandemic than people living in more affluent parts of the region.
“I call this structural racism,” said Lindo.
“We need a coordinated provincial strategy to invest in, protect and support racialized communities.,” she said.