Ontario invests $1.6M to fight racism and anti-hate initiatives

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones

Ontario is investing $1.6 million over two years to fight racism and hate in the province.

The money will support community-based anti-racism and anti-hate initiatives, focusing on anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Semitism, and Islamophobia.

“Racism and hate will not be tolerated and our government is doing everything it can to protect people from being victimized because of their race or religious beliefs,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said in a statement.

“This new grant program will be developed collaboratively with community partners across Ontario to ensure it leads to the most effective solutions in the fight against racism and hate in our province. These much-needed solutions cannot come from government alone.”

Evan Balgord, the executive director at the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said in an interview that allocating the funds from the new Anti-Racism and Anti-Hate Grant has to be meaningful.

“We see grants disproportionately go towards research projects or small-scale education programs or art programs,” said Balgord.

“We’re just not at the point anymore where we need a whole bunch more research on it. We need tangible action, and governments should be prioritizing grants that promise to take tangible, measurable actions against hate speech, hate crimes, and groups that promote organized hate in Canada.”

A press release said beginning in fall 2020, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) will collaborate with community groups to learn about individual experiences and local needs to form the grant. The ARD was established in 2016. It works to eliminate systemic racism in government policies, decisions, and programs and advance racial equity for Black, Indigenous, and racialized people.

The grant will focus on increasing public awareness of the impact of systemic racism and hate. It supports Ontario’s Anti-Racism Strategy to fight and mitigate systemic racism in government decision making, programs, and services.

Balgord said people should be concerned about racism and hatred in Canada.

“People feel very emboldened to be racist and spread death threats,” he said. “That’s something we need to bring social accountability back to.”