CCLA to Ministers Responsible for Human Rights (Federal, Provincial, Territorial Videoconference)

Race-Based Data Collection

As often stated by CCLA’s Special Advisor on Anti-Black Racism, Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah reminds us that we cannot measure Canada’s performance on human rights without some measures. We need race-based data in Canada, more than ever. While the federal government is making positive strides on this front, in fact it is more important for all FPT jurisdictions to be collecting race based data, in a fashion coordinated at the FPT level or otherwise. It is those jurisdictions that are responsible for the administration of justice, including courts and provincial/territorial human rights codes. It may be that there are costs implications necessitating fiscal federalism considerations, although that need not delay action on this front.

The method of achieving FPT collection of race based data is best left to your expertise as politicians and mandarins adept at the art of the possible. This is a “let’s make it happen” item that is important no matter your view on the state of racism in Canada: if like Quebec’s premier, you are confident that your jurisdiction can demonstrate its constitutional compliance, then you have only to gain from the empirical evidence to prove it. If you share our view on this subject, on the other hand, then measuring progress through data collection will be indispensable to anti-racism policies. It’s time to find out the whole truth about racism in Canada. Pursuing that truth requires race-based data collection by all Canadian jurisdictions.

We realize that a pragmatic impediment to collecting race-based data, in some jurisdictions, is to be found with the judicial branch and its administrative independence. This is a matter requiring your vital attention and expenditure of political capital. Governments ought to enlist NGOs and human rights allies to achieve this goal. If need be, legislative amendments will be urgently needed. The collection of race-based data from coast to coast to coast is a practical accomplishment that will form the foundation of future human rights reforms.

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