OPINION: Community engagement shapes B.C.’s first anti-racism data legislation

NDP MLA for Richmond-Queensborough


FOR far too long, Indigenous, Black and people of colour have faced unfair barriers to services and supports because of systemic racism and discrimination. That is why our government will be introducing landmark anti-racism data legislation in the coming weeks.
This legislation will help government to safely collect and use desegregated data to address systemic racism in public services and institutions like health care, education, and policing. By understanding where the gaps and issues are, we will be able to eliminate them.
As we created this legislation, we undertook one of the most extensive public engagements the province has ever done. From September to January, we engaged with Indigenous and racialized communities on how demographic data can be safely and thoughtfully used to address systemic racism. We heard from more than 13,000 people, and their voices will inform the legislation we will introduce in the coming weeks.
“Demographic data” is a term that perhaps sounds too technical for the deeply personal meaning it really has. When someone shares their demographic information, they are sharing with us the different identities that they hold – their ethnic origins, ancestry, religion, and more. They are making themselves visible to us, and in this world where so many identities are still disrespected and marginalized, to be visible is often to be vulnerable.
The demographic data collected will be used to help identify the policy and service gaps that disproportionately affect Indigenous and racialized peoples. Identifying these gaps is one of many ways that we are continuing the necessary work of fighting for the future that we all want for British Columbia.
In the consultation, over 90% of people believed that collecting demographic data could bring about a positive change in B.C. People also talked about the importance of storing this data safely, and the need for communities to be involved in how their data is used and shared. With this in mind, we will create legislation that keeps people’s data safe.
Racism is a complex issue, and we know that legislation and data alone will not solve it. We are committed to eliminating racism in all its forms – from systemic racism to the incidents of racist attacks and hatred that we are seeing all too often.
Other actions our government is taking to tackle racism includes reinstating the B.C. Human Rights Commissioner, Reviewing the Police Act, and developing a multilingual racist-incident hotline for British Columbians to report racist incidents and receive support and referrals.
As we look back on the hard work of months of community engagement, we now look forward to building legislation that better upholds the justice, equity, and safety all the diverse peoples in British Columbia deserve.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the engagement process. To learn more about the legislation and read the findings of our recent engagement, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/26609