Racism: still a lot of work to do over the next five years

Racism: still a lot of work to do over the next five years

The Minister of the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, Benoit Charette.

A little over a year ago, the Action Group Against Racism (GACR) presented actions to be taken by the government. Quebec is giving itself five years to implement all the recommendations made by the committee. There are 25 of them, 12 of which concern First Nations.

This is what the Minister for the Fight against Racism, Benoit Charette, said in December. Although he admitted to being “very proud” of the progress of the recommendations, the elected official admitted that he “still has a lot of work to do”. Here is an overview.

Mission accomplished

Concrete actions, the scope of which is difficult to establish, have been completed by the government for seven recommendations. The creation of the post of Minister for the Fight against Racism responds in itself to a recommendation issued by the action group against racism.

It was asked to add social services workers within the police forces in order to create mixed teams, aware of the different realities of visible minorities. With this in mind, Quebec has invested $25 million in its 2021-2022 budget to launch pilot projects. One of them will be deployed in Longueuil.

Ensuring the presence of at least one member from a visible minority on the majority of the boards of directors of crown corporations was essential according to the action group against racism. The objective was reached in the fall of 2021. More than half of these CAs have a member from a visible minority.

In order to respond to a recommendation, the notion of racism and discrimination will be addressed in the new course presented by the government, on Culture and Quebec Citizenship. It remains to be seen how important the subject will be in this course.

In recent weeks, Quebec has presented a multimedia awareness campaign on racism. However, it received a lukewarm reception, being the target of several criticisms, and even parodies. The director of the said advertisements is even dissociated from them, to the point of apologizing for their content. Whether the follow-up campaign, which will continue over the next three years, will prove more compelling remains to be seen.

On the drawing board drawing

The adoption of Bill 18, which provides for a reform of the powers granted to the police, should respond to two recommendations. Random police stops should become prohibited.

Ongoing training on the issue of discrimination, racism and profiling should also be created. It will be aimed at police forces, members of correctional services and special constables. An envelope of $930,000 has been reserved for the creation of this training.

Work is also underway to include the subject of racism in teacher training. As far as public service employees are concerned, training should be offered as early as spring 2022. It will aim to make employees aware of the racism that surrounds them.

In terms of housing, the GACR wants discrimination against visible minorities to cease. To achieve this, Quebec wants the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) to process housing complaints more quickly. It will receive nearly $21 million over the next five years to hire more staff to ensure the process speeds up. Actions are also expected to better inform tenants about discrimination in housing, and about issues related to discrimination.

Construction trades must be valued among visible minorities. The Commission de la construction du Qu├ębec (CCQ) must therefore act in this direction, in particular by creating a pool of candidates for recruitment. The CCQ has prepared an action plan including awareness videos, as well as consultation tables. However, these actions are yet to be deployed.

International trade agreements on professional recognition must be concluded, considers the GACR. The objective would be to make skills assessment by professional orders faster and more flexible for immigrants. In response, the government has invested $130 million over the next two years in skills recognition.

In the public service, the proportion of employees from cultural communities must be representative of that we find in society. The 18% bar has therefore been set by the government for March 2023. It will therefore be necessary to orchestrate a 4% increase in just over a year.

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