Toronto City Council approves Action Plan to confront Anti-Black racism

John Tory

Toronto City council last week voted unanimously to pass its proposed Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.

Mayor John Tory described the five-year Plan as ” an important first-step “in dealing with  the  problem and establishing ” a more inclusive city that benefits all Toronto residents.”

The Plan includes 22 recommendations and 80 actions to address five issue areas:

  1. Children & Youth Development
  2. Health & Community Services
  3. Job Opportunities & Income Supports
  4. Policing & The Justice System
  5. Community Engagement & Black Leadership

More than 200,000 people of African  descent live in  Toronto.

Black Torontonians, the Plan noted, remain significantly more likely to be expelled from school, unemployed, incarcerated, or victimized in hate crimes.

Toronto City staff  said it is requesting  close to $1 million to get the Plan started in  2018.

Implementation will be based on five annual work plans, starting in Year One (2018), and a corresponding progress report.

For each year of implementation, an annual work plan will be created by City staff, in collaboration with community members and submitted to City Council for approval.

Mayor Tory told  the Caribbean Camera that he recognizes that Anti-Black racism exists in Toronto ” and this is why we embarked  on this journey to develop the Toronto Action Plan.”

He recalled that before the journey began,” I had heard  Toronto Black communities say they did not want to sit  through  another consultation exercise because  many of the barriers still  facing communities have  existed for decades.

“This is why  we started the process by analyzing over 41 years of reports on racism and putting those recommendations in front of residents through 41 community conversations.”

Mayor  Tory  has promised  “to work with all levels of government and in partnership with Toronto’s Black communities to form a city where our values and goals are matched by reality.”

In a letter to the Toronto Executive Council, in support of the Plan, the  board  of directors of  the Jamaican Canadian Association said ” these are good first  steps towards  confronting entrenched racism in key institutions, supporting the economic empowerment of Black Torontonians and creating greater space for Black youth.”

CUPE Local 79 which also supported the Plan, noted in  a letter to the Executive Committee, that many of its members experience and serve clients who experience Anti-Black racism.

“We are deeply saddened to report that incidences of racism still occur in city workplaces and services,” it said.

“It is critically important that the Action Plan be funded and implemented in 2018,”  it noted.

Some of the many disparities Black Torontonians face

  • Black Torontonians are victims of 85% of hate crimes in Toronto where racism is the motivating factor.
  • 42% of children in the care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto are Black, five times their representation in the overall population.
  • Black students become “early leavers” of high school at higher rates – 23% compared to 12% of white students.
  • Torontonians of African descent have an unemployment rate of 13%, nearly two times the provincial rate.
  • 27% of all carding incidents are focused on Black Torontonians, three times their representation in the overall Toronto population.
  • Black women and girls are one of the fastest growing incarcerated groups.

(Source: Action  Plan to confront Anti-Black racism )