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OHRC Statement on Ontario’s New Anti-Racism Directorate

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February 16, 2016

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Toronto – Today, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the establishment of an Anti-Racism Directorate.  The new body will be tasked with providing an anti-racism lens to the development and implementation of government policies, and will also be involved in some aspects of education and promotion. The official announcement is here:

The OHRC welcomes the establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate and we congratulate and look forward to working with Minister Coteau. Anti-racism has been at the heart of the OHRC's work since our founding 55 years ago. We have long called for broader anti-racism efforts from Government and its agencies. Additional resources towards anti-racism will help tackle problems that are complex, and damage people and communities across Ontario. 

Today’s announcement points to the need to “apply an anti-racism lens in developing, implementing and evaluating government policies, programs and services.” This is a critical step forward; the OHRC agrees and calls on all institutions, within and outside of Government, to evaluate their polices, programs and services to eliminate racism.

We anticipate the OHRC’s mandate will complement that of the Anti-Racism Directorate. The OHRC is an arms-length agency, with a promotion, monitoring and enforcement role, which includes targeted legal action.

Under the Human Rights Code, the OHRC is mandated to prevent discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, sex, disability and age, to name a few of the 17 protected grounds. As such, the OHRC has significant expertise on questions of “intersectionality” (when a person is discriminated against on more than one Code ground). 

The Human Rights Code refers to establishment of an Anti-Racism Secretariat under the direction of the Chief Commissioner of the OHRC. This is distinct from the Anti-Racism Directorate. To date, this Secretariat has not been created by the Government.

While the OHRC has always conducted significant work on anti-racism it would require additional resources to implement the Anti-Racism Secretariat under the Code in the event that the Government chooses to make the necessary appointments.

The OHRC looks forward to working with Minister Coteau on the important mandate of the Anti-Racism Directorate.