Provincial parties need to do more to address racial inequities

Community News & Features Jun 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm


The Colour of Poverty Campaign – Colour of Change Network (COP-COC) is releasing its 2014 Racial Justice Report Card for Ontario which scores the three main Ontario political parties on their records and campaign platforms with respect to issues affecting racialized communities.

Since the last election in 2011 when 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, homelessness, and health inequities, while having greater difficulties accessing justice and human rights systems to address discrimination. None of the parties have demonstrated a deep understanding of the issues facing racialized communities (First Peoples and peoples of colour) in Ontario. Based on their performance since the last provincial election, COP-COC gave the parties the following grades:

Liberals: B- NDP: C- PC: F

“As racialized communities members 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 Metro Toronto Chinese & South East Asian Legal Clinic. “During the televised leadership debate, none of the leaders even talked about the issues racialized communities face let alone what they will do to address them. In a province that is close to 1/3 First Peoples and peoples of colour we need all three parties to get on board with bringing forward such measures as employment equity to remove barriers to economic participation by racialized groups members,” said Go.

“There has been little attention paid to issues like the social determinants of health, access to health services, and health equity,” said Yogendra Shakya, Senior Research Scientist of Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services. “Among the many issues that negatively impact on racialized communities is the 3-month waiting period for OHIP eligibility imposed on newcomers to Ontario, the majority of whom are racialized. As of now, none of the three parties is prepared to say that they would repeal the 3-month waiting period if elected,” added Shakya.

“Peoples of colour accounted for approximately 12% of Canadian households in 2006. Fifty-three percent of them live in Ontario. Twenty-three per cent of racialized households were in core housing need – living in homes below adequacy, suitability or affordability standards and unable to afford an acceptable alternative. By contrast, only 11% of non-racialized households in Canada were in the same position,” said Yutaka Dirks, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator, Advocacy Centre for Tenants – Ontario.  “Government action is sorely needed to address the housing crisis in this province.”

“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 African Canadian Legal Clinic. “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,” added Parsons.

Any political party who 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 members of Ontario’s ethno-racially diverse communities of colour and First Peoples communities. COP-COC calls on all political leaders to take concrete steps to address the real and growing racialized exclusion and marginalization that exists in Ontario today.

To read the full Report Card, please go to:

For further information, please contact:
Avvy Go, Metro Toronto Chinese & South East Asian Legal Clinic at (416) 971-9674