For Black people in Canada, some of the most pressing issues and necessary policy changes involve, at times, all three levels of government. By working together, federal, provincial and municipal governments can each play to their strengths while reaping synergistic benefits that better deliver equity and justice to Black Canadians. Known as ‘Intergovernmental Action’, interventions on two or more levels of government are in fact often required in order to achieve meaningful redress, and long-term systemic and institutional change.
Over the last few decades, countless quantitative, qualitative and anecdotal research have documented the negative and discriminatory treatment of Black people in Canada. These disparities can be found in the labour market; when accessing municipally-delivered community support programs; and during encounters with provincial and municipal-run police services. Black communities, in the past and today, experience displacement due to government policy. Whether it’s through direct provincial action in the case of historic Black communities in Nova Scotia, or indirectly through municipal urban renewal projects in the case of of Black businesses along Eglinton West in Toronto. In sum, that even with a resurgence of anti-racism education and initiatives, there are still systemic issues at all levels of government that disenfranchise Black communities.
Demanding coordinated action between every level of government responsible for the administration or jurisdiction of these issues can strengthen advocacy efforts by closing gaps that too often lead to inadequate policy outcomes. From housing to drug policy, criminal justice reform to immigration, such issues require a multi-pronged approach.
For Black History Month, I asked some of Canada’s leading Black thinkers, changemakers and policy professionals to provide a blueprint for bold policy proposals, on outstanding issues that continue to have disportionate outcomes on Black people in Canada.