Minister of Children and Youth Services proposes game changer to deal with systemic racism

Michael Coteau

Game changer!

That’s a word Michael Coteau, Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services, has been using  regularly  these days.

Coteau optimistically views the new approach to  dealing with systemic racism in  Ontario as a “game changer.”

And in a recent interview with the Caribbean Camera, he spoke about “the new approach” with  the introduction of the new Child, Youth and Family Services Act.

“This is the first time that systemic racism will be named in legislation in the province of Ontario,” he noted.

” The proposed legislation would affirm Ontario’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and recognize that systemic racism creates barriers for children, youth and families, he said.

The preamble to the proposed legislation states that  “systemic racism and the barriers  it creates for children and families receiving services must continue to be addressed. All children should have the opportunity to meet their full potential. Awareness of systemic biases and racism and the need to address these barriers should inform the delivery of all services for children and families.”

Apart from the proposed legislation, Ontario will support the delivery of more culturally appropriate child welfare services to Black youth and their families by supporting the implementation of the One Vision One Voice initiative in children’s aid societies, Coteau noted.

(One Vision One Voice is a project led by the African Canadian community to develop a Practice Framework that will improve outcomes for African Canadian children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system.)


There are growing concerns that African Canadian children and youth are overrepresented in Ontario’s child welfare system. In addition to disproportionality, African Canadian report that they experience disparity after they come in contact with the child welfare system. They complain that they are treated differently than their White counterparts, don’t have access to culturally appropriate services and experience “poorer outcomes” than their White counterparts.


Coteau who is also the  Minister responsible for Anti-Racism, noted that for several months his ministry has been working on ” the building of a  strategy for Ontario ” to deal with racism.

Among the highlights of the strategy will be ” the ability to “obligate  ministries and systems” to collect race-based data and an awareness and/or education campaign about racism.

He said details of the strategy will be released before the current parliamentary session of the  Ontario legislature ends next June.

Photo Credit: Tom Mathew