Employment Equity Partnership

Partners’ Roundtable: Day 1

Focus on Policy & Public Leadership
– Dismantling Systems of Racism

The coronavirus pandemic has shown the need to take account of the disproportionate inequalities experienced by equity-seeking groups, including Indigenous and Black people. Systemic barriers faced by racialized and marginalized populations have been further exposed by the pandemic and intensified public attention to their unequal vulnerabilities. Public leaders and policymakers discuss the need to address the underlying issues and create a framework to prevent the unequal distribution of the pandemic’s socio-economic burden on equity-seeking groups. 

Day 1 Schedule

What is the data saying?

  • Traditional equity-seeking groups such as women, youth and racialized workers have been particularly impacted by the pandemic and have recorded higher levels of unemployment.  
  • South Asian and Chinese women have showed higher unemployment rates than other groups.  
  • One study found that visible minorities (such as Black Canadians and Filipinos) formed a larger proportion of front-line workers, suggesting that some groups of Canadians may have been at greater risk of exposure to the virus than others 1. 
  • Evidence from Public Health Ontario suggests that people living in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods were more likely to get sick from the virus than other groups of Canadians.
  • A poll conducted by TD Bank showed that about 70 per cent of Filipino, 65 per cent of South Asian and 64 per cent of Black Canadians faced unemployment or a reduction of income due to COVID-19, compared with 53 per cent of the general population.
  • The pandemic triggered an increase in anti-Asian racism across Canada. In May 2020, the Vancouver Police Department reported over 20 anti-Asian hate crimes, compared to 12 in all of 2019.2 
  • Intolerance and racism toward Cowichan Tribes people increased immediately following the nation’s public disclosure of the positive cases in their community.3 
  • To respond to systemic racism and racial discrimination exacerbated by the pandemic, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat established the Equity-Seeking Communities COVID-19 Taskforce with Women and Gender Equality Canada in March 2020. The Taskforce involves at least 24 federal organizations meeting bi-weekly and helps to ensure the federal response to COVID-19 is informed by diverse community needs, providing opportunities for communities to engage directly with policymakers.4
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified public attention to the unequal vulnerability of Indigenous and Black people and amplified other racialized inequalities inherent in society: from exposing exploitable labour in the front lines to inadequate care and resources5