Last summer, in the middle of a renewed and massive global movement to affirm that Black Lives Matter, CUPE Ontario’s 280,000 members, in recognition of the moment of reckoning we’re in, took the step of echoing a call of Black health leaders. We joined them in insisting that the Government of Ontario to immediately declare Anti-Black racism a public health crisis.
The advocacy of the coalition – made up of the Alliance for Healthier Communities, the Black Health Committee, the Black Health Alliance, and the Network for Advancement of Black Communities – led to the Toronto Board of Health unanimously voting in favour of the declaration.
But the Ford Conservatives did not follow suit.
This despite the evidence that Black Ontarians were experiencing higher rates of COVID-19. Despite the evidence that Black Ontarians are overrepresented in front-line jobs and in precarious work, without paid sick days or livable incomes. Despite the evidence that Black Ontarians were disproportionately victimized by a police and judicial system. Despite the evidence that Black Ontarians lost their jobs at higher rates during this ongoing crisis.
The Ford Conservatives failed to act then.
Today, during a Black History Month that is itself embedded in a historic year, CUPE Ontario renews its call for the Government of Ontario to declare Anti-Black racism a public health crisis.
Our union is not alone in this effort. The Ontario NDP is alongside us, alongside Black health leaders, and alongside Ontarians seeking a province that can be a home for everyone.
It’s time to make this critical declaration so that we can collectively take swift action to reverse cuts to the Anti-Racism Directorate, dedicate funds to community organizations that can lead the rollout of vaccinations, and more following the consultation of Black community leaders.
The time to marshal our collective resources to defeat Anti-Black racism is now.