Hon. Pablo Rodriguez
Minister of Canadian Heritage
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Minister Rodriguez:
I hope this letter finds you well. On behalf of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), I wish to commend the government of Canada on the recently released Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019–2020.
As I stated before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in 2017, “the existence of racism isn’t an idea to be debated – it’s a lived reality.” All levels of government must take action to address racism, and Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy is an important step in the right direction. The OHRC strongly encourages the federal government to take a further step by enshrining these commitments into law through legislation. This was done in Ontario with the enactment of the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, which requires, among other things, that the government maintain an anti-racism strategy, prepare regular progress reports, review the strategy every five years, and consult with Indigenous peoples and diverse racialized communities as part of the review process.
We are pleased that the Anti-Racism Strategy is consistent with recommendations made by the OHRC before the Standing Committee, including committing to race-based data collection through Statistics Canada. This data will be extremely useful to the OHRC as we work to eliminate systemic discrimination in Ontario. To ensure that the data is collected in a way that maximizes its utility, we encourage you to consult with provincial human rights commissions, as well as provincial governments that have undertaken similar data collection initiatives. For example, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate engaged with the OHRC and other stakeholders to develop its Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism. The OHRC’s guide to collecting human rights data, Count me in!, may also be useful.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if we could be of some assistance as you move forward to implement your Anti-Racism Strategy.
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
cc. Hon. Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General of Ontario (Minister responsible for Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate)
Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission