Month: June 2020

Who is dying from COVID19 in Ontario: how do we move information to action!

8,430 Canadians have died from COVID19 in Canada. They are family and friends, not just a number. The News Media has helped us keep up with the information and presented how Seniors, Minorities and people in low-income neighbourhoods are more likely to be harmed by COVID19.

Cases continue to rise in Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces that have accounted for a majority of Canada’s death toll and caseload ever since the pandemic began. Living in Ontario prior to COVID we were fighting back against the Ford’s government cuts to education, social services.  People are out on the streets for Black Lives in Ontario, a good issue to promote a better society. What about being out protesting for “Seniors in LTC Lives Matter.”

Authorities have revealed that postal code data shows people in minority and low-income areas of Ontario are three times more likely to test positive than predominantly white and wealthy neighbourhoods.

Ontario has the highest number of for-profit care homes in Canada, with 57% of the more than 600 facilities owned or managed by for-profits with 17% fewer workers. Residents of for-profit nursing homes in Ontario are far more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and die than those who live in non-profit and municipally-run homes. Long-term care is the front line of Canada’s battle with COVID-19, accounting for as many as four out of every five deaths  Ontario’s home care system provides care to more than 730,000 Ontarians.

Doug Ford and his PC government are moving ahead with their new home and community care legislation. The new regime set out for home and community care dismantles most if not all public governance of home care. All remaining publicly owned & controlled home care would be transferred to an array of provider organizations including for-profit and non-profit organizations. The legislation is permissive, repealing the previous Home Care and Community Services Act and enabling the provider organizations to structure, contract, subcontract & run home care in an array of different ways that they would develop themselves.  In May, the Toronto Star reported that “three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade.” Mike Harris( former PC Premier) has profited a lot from his part-time boardroom-based job with Chartwell. According to the Toronto Star, he was paid $229,500 last year.

As I was reading the news about COVID19 and LTC – it seemed distant. People’s lives are in danger and it has become a back page issue. Why are we becoming numb to the deaths in Canada and around the world? This is ageism. Are we upset about racism, LGBTQ injustices but not about ageism?

As Canadians, we need to ask this question – why are people who are unable to care for themselves, those who live in minority and low-income areas have a higher number of deaths in Ontario? Are we advocating for them? Write to your MPP in Ontario  – send them an email !!!!  as an MPP should help their constituents with petitions or raise this issue with the government. Doug Ford- Help us understand why you are not acting in the best interest of Ontario, but in the best interest of Mike Harris?




Canada is like a cappuccino – white on top, brown and blacks on the bottom – requires stirring up

Apart from the treatment of First Nations in Canada, Canadian Black racism goes back to 1793 when Britain gave legal protection to slavery by an Imperial Act that permitted the entry into Canada of “Negroes”. Canadians often romanticize their role in aiding runaway slaves but they were subjected to racist policies.

Chinese labourers in Canada were subject to horrific working conditions, they were paid one-quarter of the wages of “white” workers and there was the head tax. The uprooting of Japanese Canadians in 1942 and incarcerated in jails and internment camps, were forced to work and had their property confiscated, while South Asian Canadians were denied the franchise, unable to enter professional occupations, had restricted property rights and were subjected to discrimination in housing.

In recent years we saw a shift away from interest in true race relations, especially Anti Black Racism in favour of addressing the patterns of systemic or endemic racial disparities, as well as Diversity within a Multiculturalism framework within Canada. In 2000& 2007, I published and stated the following;
“Diversity training for hospital staff and the nursing profession was viewed as a method to cultivate a climate of tolerance. Occupational culture guides and interprets the tasks and social relations of work. Anti-racist knowledge instead of diversity training may have changed the culture that exists within the profession and in the work environment. The system is Euro-centric in training in spite of the diversity of the population.” “Perhaps since guns and violence have brought racism back to the surface in Toronto in 2006, we may see these researchers jump on the bandwagon and engage in studying racism in nursing. We know, however, that since the 1980s, racialised scholars such as Wilson Head (1985) and even the Ontario Hospital Association (1994) have discussed racism in the hospital system.” Jacobs (2007) The Cappuccino Principle: Health, Culture and Social Justice in the Workplace. Ontario: de Sitter Publication. All these discussions and studies inform us that change did not occur even within the Health Care system.

In general, as early as 1985 adverse or systemic effects of racism have been acknowledged in Canada, for example in a Supreme Court decision (OHRC v. Simpson-Sears 1985 (2 S.C.R. 536); see Black, 2004). Beck, Reitz and Weiner (2002) have, however, lamented that the 1996 amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and federal Equal Employment Act have actually weakened accountability for systemic discrimination.

In the same year, 1985, Ontario’s Equal Opportunity Plan rescinded the first provincial employment equity act in Canada, putting the onus on individuals, employers, unions, professional and other tribunals to address discrimination, with the result that enormous sums of health care dollars are being used to settle racial disputes out of view of the public eye with few accountability mechanisms in place to either prevent or de-escalate conflict (Hagey et al, 2005).

The social reproductions of institutionalized injustice, notably the ethos of white superiority exist today. The silent voices of the “racialised” others speak loudly to the dominant culture of compliance that is protected in self-serving professions and groups.

These past few weeks we have been talking about Millennials and Gen Zs who are out on the streets of the USA and Canada with a reawakening of civil rights and social justice within the framing of Black Lives Matter. If this is a moment in North America, accountability must be a key factor, as well as true policy actions around Anti Black Racism. Unlike researchers who at times discuss social phenomena as only that which is observed, we know social phenomena is also experienced. Observation enables critical reflection to become clear to the observer. This is one of the reasons that so many different racial groups are on the streets for 18 days demanding that “Black Lives Matter” is critically reflecting on structures that influence our day-to-day lives such as policing and statues.

In order to understand the groups today in North America streets when watching TV, remember that they are named according to their birth years. As of 2020, the breakdown by birth years looks like this:
Baby Boomers: Baby boomers were born between 1944 and 1964. They’re current between 56-76 years old Gen X: Gen X was born between 1965 – 1979 and are currently between 41-55 years old –Gen Y: Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1994. They are currently between 26-40 years old –Gen Z: Gen Z is the newest generation to be named and were born between 1995 and 2015. They are currently between 5-25 years old. Baby Boomers were on the streets in 1968 – it is their grandchildren who are protesting today.

The general public only understands what they view and read via the media/social media. Thus the politics underlying how decisions are made concerning civil rights is in their focus since ” I cannot breath” came to their attention. In addition, given that people in the streets are getting their voices heard via media and we are discussing this for the past 18 days within our own circles is significant. We live in a culture that has allowed brutality, be it racial or otherwise to exist since the founding of Canada. Advocacy can be advanced for those of us who are watching those in the streets. We can write to our MPs to make structural and policy changes that would make Canada an equitable society.

As Martin Luther King Jr. admonished, “…our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Black Lives Matter – Canada: Do we need to Educate New Canadians?

Did you know in Canada?
The first recorded black person to set foot on land now known as Canada was a free man named Mathieu da Costa. Travelling with navigator Samuel de Champlain, de Costa arrived in Nova Scotia sometime between 1603 and 1608.

Black slaves arrived in Canada only towards the end of the seventeenth century. In the early 17th century, French colonizers in New France began the practice of chattel slavery. People were treated as personal property that could be bought, sold, traded and inherited. The first slaves in New France were Indigenous peoples a large percentage of whom came from the Pawnee Nation located in present-day Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas.  Slavery continued after the British conquest of New France in 1763. The territory was eventually renamed British North America, and Black enslaved people came to replace Indigenous enslaved people. Compared to the United States, enslaved people made up a much smaller population in British North America.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2020:
“The Code prohibits discrimination on several grounds related to race. These include mainly the grounds of colour, ethnic origin, ancestry, place of origin, citizenship and creed (religion). Depending on the circumstances, discrimination based on race may cite race alone or may include one or more related grounds. Each of these grounds is also discussed separately below. The ground of race can encompass the meaning of all of the related grounds, and any other characteristic that is racialized and used to discriminate. In practice, all grounds that may have been factors in a person’s experience should be cited if a human rights claim is made.”

Although it may be helpful to many, this long definition does not address the discrimination that occurs to Black Lives, even from those who can claim discrimination under the same act.

I remember in 2014, the case of a young black man who spoke up about his treatment at a Chinese Restaurant.
You can read this racist act that occurred in Toronto if you Google Emile Wickham.

“In the early hours of May 3, 2014, Emile Wickham and three of his friends went out to eat in downtown Toronto for Wickham’s birthday. The group chose to celebrate at Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant, a mainstay in the area for nearly two decades, in part because they saw other people eating there at that hour.

The group was seated and ordered food, but a waiter told them they would need to pay upfront for their meals before they could be served. It was the restaurant’s policy, he said.”

Wickham and his friends discovered they were the only ones that had been asked to provide money upfront. Also the only black diners at the restaurant. A Toronto Star profile of the restaurant published in 2017 named Mr. Li as the son of Ron and Ann, an immigrant couple from Guangzhou, China who opened the restaurant in 1997.

This went to the Human Rights Commission of Ontario in November 2015, and Mr. Wickham in 2018 received $10,000. Roger Love, a lawyer with the Human Rights Legal Support Centre who represented Mr. Wickham, said, “it’s a common misconception that anti-black racism occurs only at the hands of white individuals and that many cases his office handles to deal with racialized perpetrators.”

“Unfortunately, there’s the notion that some races are more valued than others and often the idea is that blacks are the least worthy,” he said. “So whoever else feels like they’re above a black person on that hierarchy can subject black people to anti-black racism.”

“Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters said he doesn’t know how prevalent experiences like Mr. Wickham’s are because though it is widely reported that black people experience profiling, they face many barriers in seeking justice: the human-rights complaints process can be difficult to navigate, lawyers are expensive and cases that deal with race are often very difficult to establish and prove, he said.”

How do we teach Anti-Black Racism to New Canadians? Racism has a long history in Canada, starting with our Indigenous First Nations. New Canadians can learn the stigmas that exist, and it is this concern that I raise the question: how do we educate New Canadians before they get these learned behaviours which they can learn from their interactions within the system and with other Canadians.

You can read Ontario’s, but there is nothing in this strategy that educates New Canadians. Perhaps Mr. Floyd’s murder in the USA, which has brought the message to Canada, can help all of us. This is a moment for all of us. If we do not make the needed changes, who will?

Maybe we do not need education for New Canadians but recognizing the United NationsInternational Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024) to formally acknowledge that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose rights must be promoted and protected in Canada.
Promoting these rights and educating all Canadians that Anit Black Racism is long-standing and different from the wider understandings of Racism which is also painful. Listen to this tweet from

Cameron Welch who took to TikTok to share the rules his mom makes him follow as a young black man in America.  

I have heard the same rules given by Black Canadian parents to their children in Toronto.

After listening to Cameron Welch, and reading Canda’s history, I rest my case that Anti Black Racism is different from the Racism that I have experienced both Systemic and in my everyday life.

In Canada, we say that it is from the Bible that helped structure our laws due to the early settlers. The following states:
God cares how we treat each other because we’re all created in His image (Genesis 1:27). He makes no distinction between the inherent value of one race or ethnicity over another.

  • God cares about people regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, and social status (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).
 Apart from policing, let’s address Black Racism via the Social Determinants of health.
The Globe and Mail

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