B.C. government announces new law to fight systemic racism

The provincial government in British Columbia says new legislation called the Anti-Racism Data Act and aims to target racism, was co-developed with Indigenous leaders.

According to Premier John Horgan, the law will use data collection to help fix the gaps in government programs and services for Black, Indigenous and racialized people in the province.

“Our province is shaped by diversity with people from all over the world choosing to come to B.C. to build a better life,” Horgan said at a news conference on May 2. “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.”

Horgan added that accountability would be built into the act.

“It is the first step on that journey not just to reclaim this building not just for those that sit in the legislature but all of those in British Columbia who are represented by a diverse, dynamic group of people, opposition and government that come here to make life better,” he said.

“The accountability that will be within this act will be a result of the advocacy that is sitting in front of me.”

According to B.C.,  more than 13,000 people in the province provided input into the new legislation.

It was also co-developed with Indigenous leaders under The Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People’s Act which was passed into law in 2019.

In a statement, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said that accurate data collection could help combat racism.

“If accurate data is not collected, then First Nations people are often not believed when we describe the impact of racism and discrimination against First Nations,” he said.

“This new legislation will bring needed changes to support respectful and ethical approaches to data collection, data standards and consistency in reporting and addressing how First Nations access or receive necessary supports and services in British Columbia.“

Chief Terry Teegee of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said he was pleased with the new act and believed it would benefit First Nations and British Columbians.

“I’m pleased and encouraged to see the legislation introduced today. This legislation will benefit First Nations and all British Columbians as we strive towards a more inclusive and equal society,” he said.

According to B.C., the anti-racism data act follows the recommendation from B.C. Human Rights Commissioners report, The Grandmother Perspective, which called for data to develop policies that address systemic inequalities.

It also follows recommendations from B.C.’s “In Plain Sight” by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, which addresses anti-Indigenous racism in health care.

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