The Ontario government’s plan to address anti-Black racism isn’t nearly good enough, says CUPE Ontario.

Three months into a pandemic that disproportionately impacts equity-seekers, the province delays collecting and publishing urgently needed race-based data, despite calls from CUPE Ontario and many others. Instead, the Ford Conservatives announced the creation of an advisory board with unclear timelines.

“We’re right in the middle of a health and political crisis, one that we know is disproportionately impacting Black communities, among other equity-seekers,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “We need immediate action and leadership now – not another open-ended advisory board.”

Hahn says that the board providing advice on how young people can overcome socioeconomic barriers misses the mark.

“This government needs to eliminate these barriers entirely – not advise Black communities on how best to navigate them,” said Hahn. “Anything less deepens the racist belief that Black communities are to blame for the outcomes of racist policing, housing and workplace discrimination, and graduation rates.”

Alternatively, the government should immediately begin collecting and publishing race-based data to shape measures that would keep Black communities safe during this crisis, says Hahn. CUPE Ontario also insists that measures be taken to ensure that the collection of race-based data does not lead to discriminatory policies; that the province reverse its cuts to the Anti-Racism Directorate; and that it re-starts plans to increase oversight of Ontario police.

While the Ford Conservatives committed to collecting race-based data, they have yet to do so, claiming that it requires regulatory changes and that local public health units could take on the task on a voluntary basis.

“This is really a question of political will,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario, noting that the province has sped up other regulatory changes during the pandemic. “This unprecedented crisis demands committed leadership willing to take swift action.”