Declaration: Racism is a Public Health Crisis in Canada

Declaration: Racism is a Public Health Crisis in Canada

1 July 2020
Petition to
Canada and Organizations
Signatures: 297Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Lauren King

We agree that Racism is a Public Health Emergency and commitment to take urgent action is needed because:

  • Race is a social construct and racism has various forms including historical, individual, internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and systemic.
  • A multitude of studies connect racism to worse health outcomes and demonstrate that racism is a social determinant of health.
  • Experiencing day-to-day racism has a cumulative impact that can lead to dire health outcomes such as the development of coronary heart disease.
  • The impacts of racism compound other emergencies. 
  • Racism has a severe impact on the health of Indigenous people and Black Canadians (socially constructed category), including disproportionately high death rates compared to all other races during the COVID-19 pandemic and in general.
  • Systemic racism has increased health and economic disparities for Indigenous people and Black Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic and in general.
  • Racism has increased towards Asians (socially constructed category), including not being allowed into businesses, extreme loss of business, and attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Indigenous people are more likely to be murdered, incarcerated, or die from preventable causes than any other population in Canada.  
  • Reports show that getting injured to killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in Toronto and that “black people (and specifically black men) were overrepresented in everything from investigations into use of force and sexual assault by police, to inappropriate or unjustified searches and charges.”
  • 1996 marked the end of residential schools and Canada’s goal to “Kill the Indian and Save the Child” by legalizing genocide; however, the inter-generational impacts of residential schools continues to be felt in the physical, spiritual, and mental health of survivors and their descendants.
  • Violence against Indigenous women, which includes sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and racism, has been described as a form of genocide and a crisis “centuries in the making.”
  • RCMP Commissioner, Brenda Lucki, told Canadians that “we don’t have systemic racism.”
  • A study shows that by “almost every measurable indicator, Canada’s Aboriginal population suffers a worse fate and more hardship than the African-American population in the U.S.”
  • The Liberal government fights Indigenous children suffering inequity in the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).
  • Studies show Indigenous and Black children are more likely to be investigated for neglect by CAS than white children, and more likely to be apprehended.
  • In Canada, there is substantial evidence of racial disparities in the Canadian labour market in which there are lower economic returns to visible minorities.
  • By declaring racism, a public health emergency, Canada will recognize the severe impact of racism and allocate funding, staff, and additional resources to actively engage in racial equity and racial justice work.  Actions include but are not limited to the following:
  1. Undertake government-wide reviews at all levels of their systems, regulations, policies, processes and practices to identify and remove practices and approaches that will lead to lesser or no opportunity for minority groups;
  2. Undertake the steps necessary to implement programs and systemic change necessary to address the 94 recommendations described in the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and fully adopt Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP);
  3. Review and modernize the Criminal Code to meet the highest standards of equity and fairness;
  4. Review and modernize the education system and curriculum to be truthful, reflective of Indigenous, Black, and Colonial histories, and meet the highest standards of equity and fairness;
  5. Launch Canada-wide consultations concerning systemic racism; and
    Provide accountability and continuous monitoring to demonstrate the steps taken to respond to these recommendations.
  • By making a commitment to anti-racism, agencies, boards, institutions, and organizations (i.e. those involved in retail, education, research, health, emergency services, child welfare, social services etc. in Canada) will recognize the impact of their actions or lack of actions to ensure racism is not experienced by staff, clients, or customers. Actions include but are not limited to the following:  
  1. Adopt a formal statement condemning racism;
  2. Undertake system-wide reviews of their regulations, policies, processes and practices to identify and remove any racist systems and approaches;
  3. Implement assessment methodologies to identify and remove racist policies, regulations, procedures and practices;
  4. Provide mandatory, rigorous and system-wide anti-racism and anti-oppression training for all staff and volunteers within their organizations;
  5. Enhance public health surveillance systems by collecting and analyzing race and ethnicity data in an appropriate and sensitive manner; and
  6. Monitor their organizations for stereotyping, discrimination, and racist actions and take corrective actions.

The recommendations were mostly adopted from

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Signatures: 297Next Goal: 500
Support now