14 Apr 2017

    Ontario's Proposed Anti Racism Law To Be Voted On This Spring

    After many years of trying to address racial inequality in the province, the Ontario government has introduced a new law that many feel is a step in the right direction.

    The new law, which will be voted on this Spring, will allow the government to collect data from public service organizations in order to track racial disparities so that progress can be made to reduce racial inequality.

    The government hopes this new approach will address the long-standing problem with systemic racism in Ontario. Despite efforts by previous governments, racism is still a reality for many groups.

    In many respects, the proposed law offers a fresh look on how we view racism and its causes, as well as the inherent cultural bias that is often associated with government policies. For instance, the draft preamble states that systemic racism is often caused by practices that appear neutral but in fact have the effect of disadvantaging certain groups.

    The preamble also states that racial equality remains a persistent reality in Ontario and the Ontario government is committed to eliminating systemic racism so that all groups can fully participate in society. It also mentions indigenous and black communities as examples of groups who have been adversely impacted by systemic racism in the past.

    The new law will apply to all public-sector organizations, including, hospitals, schools, prisons, social service networks, municipalities, universities and colleges, and all Ontario government ministries and administrative bodies.

    As part of the strategy to collect personal data from public sector organizations in order to measure racial inequalities, the government must also report on their findings, and hold consultations with groups adversely impacted by systemic racism, including indigenous and black communities. The government will then prepare an assessment report, and all of their findings and recommendations will be published on the Ontario government’s website.

    The Information and Privacy Commissioner is given a watchdog role to oversee the data collection practices of public-sector organizations to enforce compliance with the law, and to determine if there has been unauthorized use of personal information.

    Based on the draft wording of section 6(8) of the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, the disclosure by a public-sector employee of their racial status is voluntary, and no public services or benefits will be withheld if the person refuses to give their personal information.

    If the legislature decides to adopt the new law this Spring, we will have to wait and see if these new measures will have a concrete impact on reducing systemic racism in Ontario, and whether public service organizations change their practices and policies to better serve its diverse population.

    Marcus Boire also contributed to this article.

    Read 2963 times Last modified on Friday, 14 April 2017 01:32
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    Walker Law Professional Corporation

    Tanya Walker obtained her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University in 2005 and her Honours Bachelor of Commerce with a minor in Economics from McMaster University in 2002. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006 and created Walker Law a litigation law firm in 2010. Tanya is currently serving a term as Bencher of the Law Society of Ontario; elected by her peers as not only the first Black elected female Bencher from Toronto, in the 220-year history of the Law Society, but also as one of the youngest sitting Benchers.
 Tanya is a frequent speaker on legal issues to the Toronto Community and regularly appears on the CTV Show, Your Morning as a legal expert. She has also been named in the 2017 and 2018 Lexpert Guides as one of the Leading Lawyers to Watch in Corporate/Commercial Litigation and is also the recipient of the 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year Award.

 Tel: 647-342-2334 ext. 302 
 Email: tanya(at)tcwalkerlawyers.com


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