Premier Ford acknowledges systemic racism in Ontario, launches of advisory council on equality of opportunity

In his daily provincial address today June 4, Premier Doug Ford and his government announced the launch of an “advisory group” whose purpose is to look into the social and economic barriers that young people experience when it comes to areas like education, employment, and skill training, to achieve success.

“At a time when the world is facing some of its most difficult challenges, we have to do everything we can to help our next generation of leaders overcome the social and economic barriers before them,” Ford said in the statement. 

Named the “Council on Equality of Opportunity,” the newly created group will consist of 20 individuals. Members will be made up of youths between the ages of 18 and 29 and adults “with expertise from community organizations, not-for-profit businesses, education, and government services”.

The announcement was made by the premier, alongside Ontario’s Advocate for Community Opportunities Jamil Jivani. Jivani will be the one heading the council.

“Through this council, we will bring together a diverse group of leaders, experts, and youth members who will offer the insights to our government that we need to make the impact that communities need and deserve,” Jivani said about the newly formed council.

Ford and Jivani made sure to acknowledge that the creation of this council comes during a time where racial and social inequality are prominently shown in the media and that the announcement was not meant to be launched in light of this fact.

“Black communities in our province, including my family, friends, neighbours, the congregation I attend church with, and many more are saddened and outraged by what has transpired in the United States. In part because what is happening south of the border is drawing attention to racism and racial inequalities within our own nation. This pain has not gone unnoticed”. It is important now, more than ever, that we use our voices and vote to elect officials who will fight for change. Voting rights are a critical part of ensuring that everyone is heard and represented equally. We must continue to stand up and demand justice until real change is made.

“We did not start paying attention to these issues because of the current news cycle. Rather we’ve been working on these issues for months because it is the right thing to do,” Jivani said in regard to the current events.

Premier Doug Ford has backtracked on his comment made earlier this week that Canada doesn’t have the same “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the United States, acknowledging that Ontario has a history of racism stretching back decades.

“We have our own history of racism here in Ontario and it’s been going on for decades,” he said. “You can go back 60 or 70 years and I know people right now are feeling pain out there. I see it.”

When talking about the council and events transpiring in the U.S., Ford said that Ontario youth are “facing the hardest issues, the most difficult topics” and that the newly formed council will help give them the “opportunity to reach their full potential”.

There is a lot of pain in Canada, the U.S., and around the world. “We must acknowledge this pain and where it’s coming from,” Ford said.

“The council will bring together experts and young people with lived experiences from different backgrounds and walks of life, young people from marginalized communities – together they will tackle the barriers our young people face”.

An allocation of $1.5 million for organizations that support Black families and youths for urgent needs as a result of COVID-19 was also announced by the Ford government.

Applications for the Council on Equality of Opportunity will be available through the Ontario government’s official website.

Ontario COVID-19 Stats

New cases recorded on June 4, 2020: 356

Total Confirmed cases: 29,403

Recoveries: 23,208

Deaths: 2,347

Active cases: 3,838

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