To advance anti-racism and race relations initiatives, Council appointed Rideau-Rockcliffe Councillor Rawlson King as the Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives.
Following the killing of George Floyd by police in the United States, we are witnessing a historic social movement across the world and here in Canada. This is a one of those critical moments of our time that impacts all of us. While this recent tragedy has occurred in the U.S., we know that racism persists in Canada and here in Ottawa. This tragic incident is painful for many, if not all of us, and particularly painful for our employees and residents from Black communities. We must all stand in solidarity and recognize that we all have a role in addressing and eliminating racism.
The City and successive Councils have committed to incorporating equity, diversity and inclusion in the way we deliver our services and hire our employees. We want all residents to feel heard, seen and well served. And, we want our workforce to reflect the community we serve.
However, we are not yet where we want and need to be. It is our duty as members of the community, as public servants and as human beings to focus our efforts and work together to make more progress towards our fight against racism.
Here are some of the key initiatives and supports to help us achieve this:
New anti-racism measures
Over the last year, the City has moved to implement new anti-racism measures. This includes securing the budget for creating an anti-racism secretariat to address systemic racism in our community and within the organization.
The secretariat will ensure we apply an anti-racism lens to the policies we develop, so the decisions we make and the services we provide are delivered to all residents equitably. It will help us collect the right data, make sure our work is actively removing barriers and that we are putting our resources in the places they will make the most difference.
This week, Rideau-Rockcliffe Councillor Rawlson King was nominated at FEDCO to be the Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives. And, in the coming weeks, the City will hire an anti-racism specialist who will conduct an environmental scan to inform a set of strategic actions.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City’s Human Needs Task Force has been supporting racialized communities—and all isolated and vulnerable populations across Ottawa—and applying an equity and inclusion lens to all its activities. This important work will continue.
Equity and inclusion strategies, plans and training
The City of Ottawa is committed to addressing discrimination and has specific policies and targeted strategies to support City staff, Indigenous, Black and other racialized and equity-seeking groups, and to train City staff to be aware of the impact of historic and current inequities in their daily work.
These include the Equity and Inclusion Lens Handbook, Diversity Snapshots and training, Reconciliation Action Plan, Municipal Immigration Strategy, and the Women and Gender Equity Strategy (in development). This work has influenced service delivery and policy changes across the organization.
Public engagement is essential to understanding community perspectives and creating meaningful strategies to address systemic racism.
The City will continue its work with stakeholders including the Community Champions Table Network. This network of community members representing diverse communities (including those from Indigenous, racialized and immigrant communities) comes together to discuss issues and provide feedback on diversity, inclusion and outreach initiatives from an intersectional and inclusive lens. Their input is integral to the City’s Equity and Diversity Policy and the Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Plan.
We are also proud to be partners in the United for All coalition, headed by United Way of Eastern Ontario which was formed following a 67 per cent jump in reported hate crimes in Ottawa in 2017. The coalition, headed by local leaders including the Mayor, Councillor King and others, brings a united voice in calling out hate and racism. The coalition sends a powerful message that Ottawa is a city that does not condone hate or racism.
Supports for staff
The City is committed to supporting staff who experience racism and other forms of discrimination. There are policies in place to ensure a respectful and safe workplace in addition to corporate action plans, training and initiatives that advance equity, diversity and inclusion.
Staff are encouraged to seek personal support from the Employee Family Assistance Program (1-844-880-9142 or workhealthlife.com) or from the City’s Diversity and Inclusion Specialists (via the HR Service Centre at ext. 47411) to discuss all equity and inclusion related matters.
The City of Ottawa is committed to addressing systemic racism both within the organization and the broader community, and we stand in solidarity with those exercising their democratic rights to seek justice and peace.
Our work has started, but we know there’s much more to do and we are committed to listening and making changes for the better.
Councillor, Ward 13 Rideau-Rockcliffe