L-R: Provincial Anti-Racism Data Committee member Don Corrigal, Minister of Citizen Services Lisa Beare, Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, and Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, at a meeting in Nelson on August 2. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

L-R: Provincial Anti-Racism Data Committee member Don Corrigal, Minister of Citizen Services Lisa Beare, Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson, and Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives, at a meeting in Nelson on August 2. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

B.C. cabinet minister visits Nelson to promote anti-racism survey

Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services, says the government is developing legislation

B.C.’s Minister of Citizen Services Lisa Beare was in Nelson on Wednesday to promote a survey the government says will help identify systemic racism in its services.

Beare explained the province is working toward passing anti-racism legislation in 2024, and that the government is collecting data toward that end through its appointed Anti-Racism Data Committee.

“We have heard from many Indigenous peoples and racialized groups that they are being left behind because government services weren’t designed with them in mind, which is why we are continuing the work to create a more equitable province,” said Beare.

She was accompanied at the Nelson meeting by Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives. There were about two dozen members of the public in attendance.

“B.C. as a province has the terrible history of passing the most racist pieces of legislation in the country,” Elmore said. “That’s our history, and that’s our legacy.”

Elmore said the purpose of the new legislation will be to counteract that legacy by doing better in the future.

“We’re going to hold government accountable through all ministries, programs and services … to ensure that we’re addressing systemic racism, and really removing those barriers.”

The antiracism data committee had decided research is needed in 12 areas including health, justice, education, and government hiring.

The committee’s first step is a demographic survey that it is urging all residents of the province to fill out. It is available online at https://antiracism.gov.bc.ca/bcdemographicsurvey until Sept. 29.

The survey covers ancestry, Indigenous identity, place of birth, citizenship and immigration status, language, racial identity, religion and spirituality, culture, gender and sex, sexual orientation, marital status, education, personal income, family income and disability.

The demographic survey does not ask for stories of experiences of systemic racism, but those stories are requested in a separate survey, available at https://engage.gov.bc.ca/antiracism/, also until Sept. 29.

A ministry spokesperson said responses are confidential and personal data will not be linked with the descriptions of personal experiences, for privacy reasons.

“Data collectors are researching the experiences of the demographic groups, not the person’s individual experience,” she said.

Beare said the demographic survey has been delivered to 800,000 households so far, and since it was made available on June 14 there have been approximately 42,000 responses.

Even though the surveys are administered by BC Stats, a provincial government agency, they are being built and overseen by the racism data committee whose job is to review the statistics and recommend priorities for research.

At the Nelson session, some members of the public wondered why racialized people would trust a government process that asks for so much information, given how poorly they have been served by governments in the past.

Elmore responded that to build trust the committee is holding meetings like the present one, and also funding community groups to promote the survey to their members and contacts.

Beare said the point of the meetings and the funding is to connect with groups that may not have heard about the survey.

Grants of $2,500 have been given to 35 community organizations across the province to do this work. Twenty-one of these are in the Lower Mainland and only one, a grant to the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy in Invermere, is in the Kootenays.

“These grants are going to organizations to facilitate connecting with community members,” Elmore said, “to make sure we hear those voices. We have got to hear from folks who are impacted.”

READ MORE:

B.C. launches survey to identify systemic racism in government services

• It needs to have teeth: B.C.’s anti-racism data committee readies to release priorities, stats

OP-ED: Anti-Racism Data Act will help to dismantle systemic racism



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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