OPINION: Using data to tackle systemic racism

NDP MLA for Richmond-Queensborough


THIS week, our government introduced Anti-Racism Data Legislation.

I am honoured to work alongside my colleague, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Rachna Singh, whose tireless work made this legislation possible.

This legislation is the first of its kind in Canada, and was developed with extensive engagement with racialized communities, with more than 13,000 British Columbians taking part.

Systemic racism and colonial biases have shaped the development and delivery of programs and services for generations, and this continues to hurt Indigenous Peoples and racialized people throughout B.C.

We’ve heard from Indigenous, Black and people of colour that it can be hard to focus people’s attention on a problem when you don’t have specific information about systemic barriers and the data to show it.

As government, we must do better.

The Anti-Racism Data Act charts a new path forward in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and racialized communities to use and share data safely to help address systemic racism and make government programs and services work better for more people.

When we know better, we can do better. Having data that shines a light on where barriers and inequities exist will help us drive change both inside government and beyond.

This data will highlight how racialized people have faced barriers in accessing programs like rental assistance and child care benefits. With this data, we can make changes to ensure people can get fair access to programs when they need them.

This data will also bring awareness to where racialized people are being disproportionately targeted by things like tickets and penalties, so that we can ensure these charges are being applied fairly and impartially.

With this data, we can identify barriers and improve programs and services. For example, BC Housing has started working with communities to collect disaggregated demographic data to more accurately capture the diversity of people who are experiencing homelessness across the province. This data helped secure culturally competent service providers in communities where they are most needed.

By making sure that communities are involved every step of the way, we can protect against further harms and work together to find meaningful solutions that work for those most affected by systemic racism.

We know that this legislation alone won’t end racism, but it’s an important step forward. Our government is 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.

Join us in coming together to tackle racism in all its forms across B.C.