TORONTO — Ontario is establishing an anti-racism directorate 10 years after it promised to do so.
In 2006 the Liberals passed legislation that would enable them to create such an office, but Premier Kathleen Wynne says the focus on issues of racism has sharpened over the past year.
She says the government has done a lot of work over the years on this file, but issues faced by Syrian refugees and the debate over police street checks — known as carding — has shown the discussion must be taken on anew.
Culture Minister Michael Coteau will also now be the minister responsible for anti-racism.
But there is so far no budget nor a business plan for the office, but Coteau will "consult with community members to establish the specifics of the directorate's mandate."
The NDP has long been calling for an anti-racism secretariat and leader Andrea Horwath says while it should have been put in place a long time ago, she is looking forward to this government listening — "for a change" — to voices of people in the community.
Wynne says this announcement is also an economic one.
"It is critical that every young person in this province, no matter the colour of their skin, no matter their religion, no matter their ethnic background, that they have a full opportunity to take part in that economy," she said.
"If you look at the north of this province, the labour force is aboriginal young people. Aboriginal young people are the fastest growing group in this province ... if we don't make sure that those young people have every opportunity that every other child in the province has, then we're not doing the economy a service."
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