black health alliance

There are now calls for anti-Black racism to be declared a public health crisis in Ontario

As people across the province and the country continue to stand up and fight back against the injustices faced by Black people on a daily basis, Black health leaders in Ontario are calling for the province to declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis. 

The Alliance for Healthier Communities published a statement earlier this week signed by the Black Health Committee, the Black Health Alliance and the Network for Advancement of Black Communities (NABC) calling for faster action to meaningfully confront white supremacy and address anti-Black racism in Ontario. 

"Ontario, like other provinces and territories in Canada, is a place that struggles to contend with the harms of white supremacy and where legacies of colonization, slavery, structural inequality and systemic discrimination deeply impact the lives of Black people," the statement reads. 

"We have followed closely the horrendous killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, and more recently the death of Regis Korchinski- Paquet in the presence of police officers in Toronto. Regis joins a long list of Black people who have died in police presence, after wellness calls were made for help."

The statement indicates that the Canadian Public Health Association released a position statement acknowledging that racism is a public health issue back in 2018, and an Ontario Human Rights Commission study from the same year found that Black people are 20 times more likely to be injured or killed by police than their counterparts.

"Overall, Black people are more likely to face lethal force," notes the statement.

"We will not be silent as Black people are killed or die in the presence of the police due to unchallenged police brutality. We refuse to separate these fatal outcomes from the overwhelming climate of anti-Black racism in which Black people are forced to live."

In light of this reality, the alliance of health professionals is urging allies to make commitments to addressing white supremacy and anti-Black racism by standing in solidarity with Black people, committing to interrupting cycles of violence and refusing to make this an issue only Black people care about. 

More specifically, they're calling for the declaration of anti-Black racism as a public health crisis.

Andrea Horwath, leader of the Ontario NDP, has also echoed this call. 

In addition to this demand, the group is also calling for enhanced accountability infrastructure to address police brutality, police violence and harms to Black communities, as well as a strengthened Anti-Racism Directorate with a clearly articulated, targeted and systemic anti-Black racism strategy. 

They are additionally demanding a provincial commitment to the allocation of protected funds to provide culturally appropriate health and wellbeing support within Black communities.

"A critical component of undoing anti-Black racism is working towards making Black life livable. Culturally appropriate organizations must be given the support they need to continue providing these services," they wrote.

"We cannot be silent in the face of the ongoing horror Black people are experiencing in Ontario, across Canada and in the United States. We stand in solidarity with Black people everywhere in calling for justice."

Lead photo by

George Talusan

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