Ontario announces new council and funding for organizations that support Black families
Premier Doug Ford just announced the new Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, an advisory committee that will aim to help youth in the Black community as well as other marginalized groups overcome social and economic barriers, especially in the face of COVID-19.
The new council will be made up of 20 members from different generations — including youth between the ages of 18 to 29 and adults with expertise from community organizations, not-for-profit businesses, education, and government services — and members will also advise the government on long-term actions that can be taken to support disadvantaged youth.
"The council will focus on the challenges facing young people today, such as completing an education, skills training, and employment," notes a government release on the new council.
"As an immediate priority, the council will identify strategies to support vulnerable and marginalized youth to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak."
Today, our government launched the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity. The council will champion community voices and provide advice to us on how to overcome social and economic challenges to achieve success. https://t.co/0yzXkIckkr pic.twitter.com/v4bp9HsgtU— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) June 4, 2020
Jivani will serve as chair of the council for the first year, and he'll work directly with young people and different communities across the province.
Speaking during the press conference, Ford emphasized that this new council has been in the works for months and is not simply a reaction to the current protests taking place across the continent or the backlash he received for stating that racism in Ontario does not have deep systemic racism (a statement he later retracted).
In addition to the new council, the government also announced that they'll be allocating $1.5 million in funding to organizations that support Black families and youth in order to address the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19.
Anyone interesting in joining the council is being encouraged to apply to the Public Appointments Secretariat by Thursday, June 18, and the government says eligible candidates should have expertise in areas such as community service, business, education and government services such as youth justice and child welfare.
"For decades, youth from disadvantaged communities have faced barriers to succeeding in our economy. COVID-19 has made these issues worse," said Jivani in the government's release.
"As the first chair of the Premier's Council on Equality of Opportunity, I will work with a diverse group of leaders to help the government give young workers, especially disadvantaged youth, a fair chance to succeed in Ontario's workforce."
But not everyone is impressed with the announcement.
Laura Mae Lindo, chair of the Ontario NDP's Black Caucus and official opposition critic for anti-racism issued a statement this afternoon outlining the Ford government's cuts to social programs and calling the new council and funding "a slap in the face to Black communities."
"Ford gutted and shut down the Anti-Racism Directorate, and cut down the Anti-Racism Initiatives budget line to a ludicrous $1,000. Black Ontarians, along with Indigenous and racialized Ontarians, have suffered two years of cuts, damage and disturbing denials about the existence of systemic racism, and the experiences they face," she said.
"Communities that are hurting from years of systemic discrimination and anti-Black racism don't need a watered down committee. We don't need 'advice' on how to overcome barriers. We need change in the system to tear down those barriers, and stamp out systemic racism. We need a government that will actually fund that critical work, instead of cutting it to the bone, and then throwing us some loose change."
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