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Ottawa sets up secretariat to root out racism in federal institutions, programs

Last Updated Jun 25, 2019 at 6:54 pm EDT

The federal government is setting up a secretariat to root out systemic racism and discrimination within federal institutions, programs and services.

The secretariat is part of a $45-million federal anti-racism effort, which also includes funding for programs run by community groups on things like job-skills training, youth mentorships, legal services and protections against hate speech.

The effort will also include a national public awareness and education campaign.

Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says every day in this country, people still face racism, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-black racism.

He says deeply embedded inequalities are often subtle, reflected in who gets called for a job interview or who is encouraged to attend university or who gets carded by police on their way home from school.

“Every day in Canada people still face systemic racism and discrimination…it’s often subtle, sometimes invisible, but always unacceptable,” he said from the Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre in Toronto.

“Ultimately these inequalities hurt all of us, the whole society. We strongly believe that we are stronger as a country when we bring everybody up to the same starting line.”

Independent MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes has argued that black Canadians are passed over for senior jobs in the federal civil service, noting that a black person has never achieved the rank of deputy minister.