Addressing systemic anti-Black racism and discrimination in the justice system in Toronto

TORONTO, Nov. 9, 2022 /CNW/ - Access to justice is a fundamental Canadian value and an integral part of a fair and just society based on the rule of law. The Government of Canada is committed to providing fair and equal access to justice for Black and racialized communities across the country and addressing systemic racism and discrimination in all its forms and in all phases of the justice system.

Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Moya Teklu, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) announced that the Government of Canada is providing financial support for a project from BLAC that provides legal supports to address anti-Black racism and discrimination and the overrepresentation of individuals from Black communities in the justice system in Ontario.

Through its Combatting Anti-Black Racism through Litigation and System Navigation project, BLAC will:

  • provide legal professionals and other experts with the information they need to raise legal arguments related to individual and systemic anti-Black racism in the justice system.

  • increase access to justice for Black Ontarians, and strengthen the Canadian legal framework by ensuring that legal professionals representing Black clients are putting the best legal arguments forward in the areas of criminal, child protection, immigration, prison, and civil law.

  • engage System Navigators to provide information, advice, and supports to Black people with who have a legal issue in the area of criminal, child protection, immigration, or civil law.

Justice Canada is providing $1M over four years through the Justice Partnership and Innovation Program.

Quotes

"We are committed to fighting systemic racism and discrimination, which continue to be painful realities for Black communities. We are working to develop Canada's Black Justice Strategy in consultation and cooperation with Black communities, provinces and territories to help address this truth and the overrepresentation of members of Black communities in the criminal justice system. By providing support to the Black Legal Action Centre, we are helping bring systemic changes to address this unacceptable reality. This investment will support our efforts to address systemic discrimination against Black and racialized Canadians, and improve access to justice and fairness in our justice system."

The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., K.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"BLAC looks forward to using this funding to increase access to justice for Black people throughout Ontario and Canada. It is important for legal service providers to raise race-based arguments and to connect clients with appropriate community organizations and services. Through this project, BLAC will work to ensure that legal service providers have the tools, resources, and knowledge to raise race-based arguments, and that clients have the supports necessary to succesfully navigate the justice system. We are confident that this project will have a far-reaching impact."

Moya Teklu, Executive Director and General Counsel
Black Legal Action Centre

Quick Facts

  • The December 2021 Mandate Letter forthe Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Honorable David Lametti, includes a commitment to developing Canada's Black Justice Strategy with the support of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and in consultation and cooperation with provinces, territories and Black communities. The Strategy will help address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of members of Black communities in the criminal justice system.

  • In 2020-21, Black adults (aged 18 years and more), who represented approximately 4% of the adult population in Canada, were consistently overrepresented in provincial admissions to correctional services (custody and community services) across reporting jurisdictions, including Ontario.

  • Black adults made up about 5% of the adult population in Ontario, whereas they accounted for 14% of admissions to custody and 8% of admissions to community services. Black men accounted for 15% of male admissions to custody and 9% of community services, whereas Black women accounted for 8% of female admissions to custody and 5% of community services.

  • Budget 2021 announced $21.5 Million in funding over five years to support the provision of culturally appropriate legal information and resources and to pilot legal advice services for racialized communities across Canada. This funding will support organizations that provide free public legal education and information as well as organizations that provide legal services and advice to racialized communities.

  • Budget 2022 proposes to provide $85 million over four years, starting in 2022-23, to the Department of Canadian Heritage to support the work underway to launch a new Anti-Racism Strategy and National Action Plan on Combatting Hate. This funding will support community projects that ensure that Black and racialized communities, and religious minorities have access to resources that support their full participation in the Canadian economy, while also raising awareness of issues related to racism and hate in Canada.

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SOURCE Department of Justice Canada

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/November2022/09/c1909.html