QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) will introduce a bill to embed equity language into the legislation that shapes Ontario’s education systems, in order to fight systemic anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and anti-Asian racism in primary, secondary and post-secondary schools.
“Students, parents and education workers should never experience racism in Ontario’s public schools and post-secondary institutions, yet every month we learn about a new incidents of racism that leave students, families and their communities reeling,” said Lindo. “My bill makes sure Ontario schools have the tools they need to develop anti-racist strategies that promote racial equity in Ontario from kindergarten to grade 12 as well as throughout the post-secondary sector.”
TheRacial Equity in the Education System Act will provide Ontario with the necessary language, Ministry oversight, and plans to ensure there are equity strategies in publicly funded schools and post-secondary institutions to keep people safe. The bill was developed in partnership with educators, advocates and racial justice experts across the spectrum of Ontario’s education sectors.
“My bill addresses the many gaps in existing legislation that neither the Liberals nor the Ford government cared to fix. It should never have taken this long to do the basics like clearly define the terms ‘racism,’ ‘anti-racism,’ and ‘racial equity’ in legislation,” said Lindo. “It should never have taken this long to make sure educators have the training they need, or to recognize that ‘diversity training’ isn’t working and replace it with anti-racist and racial equity tools that actually address the issue of racism. My bill makes sure that schools have plans in place that promote racial equity by creating environments where students, education workers or professors who have experienced the trauma of racism get the support they need.”
“It is possible to build an anti-racist education system from kindergarten to post-secondary, and my bill is a crucial step towards making that a reality. I, along with so many Ontario residents, urge Ford to pass it swiftly,” said Lindo.
Along with acknowledging the existence of systemic racism and discrimination, the bill aims to help educators, families, communities and students recognize and address racism in tangible ways. This includes collecting disaggregated race-based data using standardized metrics that will shed light on the extent of the problem, relying on anti-racism experts and communities to guide the process towards racial equity, and creating strategies and plans that will make racial equity in education a reality for all Ontarians.
Karen Brown, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario
“While the Ford government claims to be committed to systemic changes that address racism in Ontario schools, we have not seen evidence of this commitment. What we have witnessed is an absence of solidarity in support of those who continue to be harmed by racial violence. Elected officials must take real action to dismantle systemic racism. We urge all MPPs do what is right and support MPP Lindo’s bill so that we can ensure every student and education worker learns and works in environments that are safe and inclusive.”
Shernett Martin, African-Canadian National Coalition against Hate, Oppression & Racism
“For far too long students have experienced racial discrimination in Ontario schools and post secondary institutions with little recourse for the victims due to the non-existence of provisions that would protect them and hold others accountable. Teachers have also been at the brunt of racial discrimination and were left to feel there was no recourse to address their trauma. The Racial Equity in the Education in System, Act 2021 is laying the foundation to put mechanisms in place that will safeguard our students and educators in spaces where the they were made to feel “othered’ and marginalized. Requiring Boards and schools to have racial equity plans and amendments in place moves Ontario closer to achieving Equity in Action. Our students and teachers deserve to feel safe while pursuing their education or working in an educational setting. Should a racial incident occur, they are now within their rights to demand accountability from the school or institution. Through this Act, they will now feel empowered because this legislation is building the framework to end systemic barriers that upheld an ideology embedded in white supremacy. ANCHOR fully supports this Act and commends MPP Laura Mae Lindo for her leadership in getting this Act implemented from Kindergarten to postsecondary.”
Riaz Nandan, York Federation of Students
“Acts of racism are very real experiences that students face and they need supports in place to create institutions that are safer to learn in. It’s important that our policy makers listen to and center the voices of our Indigenous, Black and racialized students.”
Ben Losman, Non-profit worker and Jewish community member
“To dismantle antisemitism, we must dismantle white supremacy. And to dismantle white supremacy, society needs to develop a nuanced understanding of how all forms of oppression - including antisemitism, colonialism, anti-Black racism, anti-Palestinian racism, anti-LGBTQ+ hatred, ableism, and class-based oppression - are interconnected. This legislation helps lay the groundwork for such an understanding, and in doing so, creates a foundation for safer, more equitable communities.”
Michelle Munk, middle school teacher
“As a Jew and the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I understand from my own family history the legacy of systemic discrimination. Based on this understanding, I am committed to challenging systems of oppression and working towards a more equitable future in my role as both a parent and a teacher. The proposed Racial Equity in the Education System Act would embody these values, and would be an institutional structure to support all educators in dismantling racism. It would add systemic legitimacy to existing policies, and would validate the advocacy work being done by individuals and groups. I am confident that with the passing of this bill, my children and my students will grow up within more just and inclusive learning environments.
Kimiko Shibata, parent and WRDSB Elementary MLL Resource Teacher
“I fully support this private member’s bill, which would help education systems to better recognize, name, and address systemic racism and ongoing barriers for racialized students, families, and education workers. An equity audit would help school systems to recognize where the gaps are, so that schools can put culturally and linguistically responsive practices into place to meet the needs of staff, students, and families. We need to put our provincial money where our mouths are and fund anti-racism work in the education sector. As a parent, an educator, and a community member, I welcome the collection of race-related data and greater transparency in how education systems respond to systemic racism as well as to specific incidents of racism within educational institutions.”
The Racial Equity in the Education System Actincludes the following measures:
- Enshrines clear definitions of terms such as 'racism', 'anti-racism', and 'racial equity' in the law.
- Requires all school boards, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario and post-secondary institutions to create racial equity plans.
- Mandates and supports racial equity education through professional development training.
- Directs more resources for students, teachers and staff who have been targeted, witnessed and/or have engaged in racist behaviours.
- Establishes penalties for those who have engaged in and/or perpetuated racism in educational institutions.
Currently, aside from mentions of “inclusion” in education legislation, legislation such as the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, theEducation Act, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Act, 2005,the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996, and the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act, 2002 do not include any language that addresses racism.