Richard Zussman and Amy Judd, Global News, May 2, 2022
The B.C. government has introduced first of its kind legislation in an attempt to “dismantle systemic racism and discrimination” faced by Indigenous, Black and people of colour in the province.
The Anti-Racism Data Act will provide a tool to ensure all the data collected will help identify gaps in programs and services, the province said.
“Our province is shaped by diversity with people from all over the world choosing to come to B.C. to build a better life. But for too long, systemic racism and the long-lasting effects of colonialism have unfairly held people back when it comes to education, job opportunities, housing and more,” Premier John Horgan said.
“These injustices are compounded when Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities ask for action, only to be told by government to provide evidence using data that is not being collected.”
The provincial government has been facing growing pressure to act on systemic racism within the health-care system and the policing system.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond conducted an extensive investigation finding system racism in the health-care system, including finding Indigenous Peoples in B.C. have inequitable access to preventative and primary care.
The province is also considering an all-committee report tasked with reviewing the Police Act with calls to get rid of the RCMP and municipal police forces for daily policing to be replaced by provincial and regional forces.
As part of a wide-ranging consultation period for this legislation, more than 13,000 British Columbians provided input to the government for the legislation.
From the information gathered, more than 90 per cent of racialized people believed that collecting intersectional demographic data such as ethnic origin, ancestry, faith, ability and gender identity could bring positive change in B.C.
“It is long overdue to finally move beyond institutionalized denialism and publicly commit to addressing anti-Indigenous racism in British Columbia, using the tools that are necessary such as data collection, information sharing and public reporting,” president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said.
The legislation is one of the first pieces of new legislation to be co-developed with Indigenous leadership under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
There will be “safeguards” in place to protect the information collected and prevent it from being used for harm, the province said.
It will also require government ministries to follow careful guidelines before any statistical data is shared publicly and to release statistics annually to support and advance racial equity.