Who cares about racial inequalities?
By Gerald V. Paul
A 2014 Racial Justice Report Card for Ontario evaluated the positions of the three main Ontario political parties and found them wanting when it comes to addressing racial inequalities.
“In this election, issues such as human rights, racial profiling and legal aid have largely been ignored by all three parties,” said Margaret Parsons, Executive Director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC).
According to Parsons, while there has been some new investment in the legal aid system, it is nowhere near enough to make the system sustainable. As racialized communities are over-represented among the poor, they look to the Government to ensure they have equal access to justice.
The joint study of the Colour of Poverty campaign and the Colour of Change network (the COP-COC study) noted that any political party which wants to form the next Government of Ontario must make clear their policy positions with respect to these and other matters that have the greatest impact on the lives of immigrants and refugees as well as on members of Ontario’s ethno-racially diverse communities. So a clarion call was made to on all political leaders to take concrete steps to address racialized exclusion that exists in Ontario today.
“As members of racialized communities and other marginalized groups struggle to make a living, the politicians are engaging in political posturing without much regard to the lived reality of most Ontarians,” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. “During the televised leaders debate, none of leaders even talked about the issues racialized communities face, let alone what they will do to address them. We need all three parties to get on board with bringing such measures as employment equity to remove barriers to economic participation by racialized groups’ members,” said Go.
Since the last election in 2011 when the COP-COC released the first Racial Justice Report Card for Ontario, there has been some improvement in certain areas. But racialized communities continue to experience higher rates of poverty and health inequities, while having greater difficulties accessing justice and the human rights system to address discrimination. None of the parties has demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues facing racialized communities in Ontario.