Ottawa to invest over $110M in new anti-racism strategy

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The federal government is investing $110.4 million in an anti-racism and discrimination strategy, Canada’s minister of diversity, inclusion and persons with disabilities Kamal Khera announced Saturday.

Khera said at a press conference the funds will support “hundreds” of projects and change the lives of “thousands” of Canadians.

“The strategy incorporates the voices and lived experiences of thousands of Canadians, and enhances our whole government approach to combating racism and discrimination in all its forms,” Khera said.

The federal government’s new strategy, officially called Changing Systems, Transforming Lives: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, will span from 2024 to 2028.

More than half of the funds, $70 million, are being invested directly into local initiatives across the country to ensure communities have the necessary resources needed to combat racism and discrimination, she said.

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“Our goal with this strategy is to combat all forms of racism and drive positive change in the lives of Canadians,” Khera said.

The new anti-racism strategy focuses on four action areas, aiming to promote economic, social and cultural empowerment in communities, advance racial equity in all sectors such as immigration, health and housing systems, drive action in the justice and public safety systems and use international engagement to advance racial equity.

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The funds will support over 70 federal initiatives “designed to ensure federal policies, programs and services reflect the Canada it serves,” a press release by the federal government said Saturday.

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Canada invested $45 million in its anti-racism strategy from 2019 to 2022. Khera says in the press release that since that time, the world has “experienced several tragically impactful events, resulting in devastating consequences, including right here in Canada.”

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Indigenous, Black, racialized and religious minority communities continue to face barriers to inclusion due to racism and discrimination, the release says.

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A Statistics Canada survey from May found that over one in three Canadians (36 per cent) aged 15 and older have experienced “some form of discrimination or unfair treatment” in the past five years.

“These experiences occurred in a variety of settings—while attending school, applying for jobs, working, shopping, and seeking healthcare, among others,” StatCan said.

A report by KPMG released in February also found eight in 10 Black Canadians say they still face some form of discrimination at work.

“Our Canadian values are being put to test, but together we can and we will create an environment where every voice is heard and every story is valued,” Khera said at the press conference.

“I always say that here in Canada diversity is a fact, but inclusion is a choice. And as a government we will always make that choice.”

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