Three months into a pandemic that disproportionately impacts equity-seekers, CUPE Ontario continues to call on the province to collect and publish relevant data.

“The uprising in the United States, and events here, remind us of the urgent and long-overdue need to recognize that racism is real – that we live in a deeply unequal world,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “But Premier Ford says that we don’t have the same ‘systemic, deep roots’ as our neighbour. That’s simply and categorically wrong. Now more than ever, statements like this stand out as ways systemic discrimination is reinforced.”

One month ago, the Ford Conservatives committed to collecting race-based data but has yet to do so, claiming that this required regulatory changes and that local public health units could take on the task on a voluntary basis.

CUPE Ontario, representing 280,000 public sector workers, however, says that the province has sped up countless other regulatory changes during this crisis – and that a voluntary and fragmented approach is woefully inadequate and amounts to passing the buck.

“This government doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to racism,” said Hahn. “The Ford Conservatives cut four subcommittees of the Anti-Racism Directorate, which advises on eliminating racism. The Conservatives halted plans to increase oversight of Ontario police, when racist policing and anti-black racism, specifically, is being discussed and acknowledged by more people and institutions than ever. Ontario must be a part of a comprehensive collection of data, and publicly release it. Failure to do this immediately means our government will continue to be part of the problem, and not contributing to a solution.”

Toronto Public Health recently collected and published data showing that the postal codes hardest hit were disproportionately low-income, racialized, and composed of recent immigrants. While this data helps paint a clearer picture, CUPE Ontario says that neighbourhood-based data in just one city isn’t enough.

The union also says that this data needs to inform effective policies.

“The data we already have in Toronto, and the data we need to collect across the province, should lead to enhanced and tailored supports,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “Again and again, this government says we’re all in this together. This is how we make that a reality.”