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B.C. introduces ‘monumental’ anti-racism legislation

May 4, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

Community groups and watchdogs hope B.C.’s new anti-racism legislation, tabled Monday, will be the first step in addressing systemic racism in health care, policing and government institutions.

The bill allows government agencies to ask people about their demographics including race, ethnicity, gender, faith, sexuality, ability and income. The data will be used to identify the extent to which systemic racism harms Black and Indigenous people and people of colour when they access health care, employment, education, housing, the justice system and social services.

In announcing the new Anti-Racism Data Act at a press conference Monday, Rachna Singh, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, said B.C. is shaped by the diversity of its people “yet too many people are held back by systemic racism and colonial biases preventing them from getting ahead. We can and we must do better.”

“With this legislation, we have the opportunity to shine light into dark places,” said Dr. June Francis, co-chair of the Hogan’s Alley Society.

Black, Indigenous and racialized communities have not received equitable treatment in government services such as employment and social services, she said.

“Yet, these inequities were hidden. Without data you cannot fix it,” Francis said. “This (legislation) gives us the chance to fix the inequities.”

The public’s first encounter with the new demographic data rules will be a B.C. Stats population-level survey, or a provincewide census. That census will take place in November and the statistics will be released in June 2023.

A new data innovation program within B.C. Stats will analyze that demographic data to identify systemic racism and inequities which will allow the government to change programs and services to address those gaps.

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