Advocates happy to see targeted money in federal budget to fight racism

Advocates for Black, Muslim and Asian Canadians are pleased to see steps taken in the federal budget to address systemic racism in Canada.

Budget allocates money for new anti-racism strategy, fighting Islamophobia

The federal budget promised $85 million dollars over four years to create an anti-racism strategy. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Advocates for Black, Muslim and Asian Canadians say they're pleased to see steps taken in the federal budget to address systemic racism in Canada. 

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the Liberal government's budget on Thursday. The budget promises $85 million over four years to the Department of Heritage to launch a new anti-racism strategy and a "national action plan" on combating hate.

"This funding will support community projects that ensure that Black and racialized Canadians, and religious minorities, have access to resources that support their full participation in the Canadian economy, while also raising awareness of issues related to racism and hate in Canada," the budget document reads. 

The budget also promises $50 million over two years to Employment and Social Development Canada for an initiative to support Black-led and Black-serving community organizations. 

"These funds are really necessary for organizations that are supporting Black communities," said Gerald Grant, a professor in the business school at Carleton University.

"Supporting Black-led organizations that are focused on Black communities will help them to provide these services directly in a way that is culturally sensitive and also that reflects the concerns of the people in the Black community overall," he said. 

While it's not a large amount of money once it's spread across the country, Grant said it will be enough to help Black businesses get off the ground faster and solve problems they are facing right away. 

Money pledged to fight Islamophobia

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council for Canadian Muslims (NCCM), said his organization was happy to see a commitment to fighting Islamophobia with actual dollars behind it. 

"We've certainly been advocating on ensuring that the government isn't just talking about combating Islamophobia, but it's putting resources, it's challenging it," Farooq said. 

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council for Canadian Muslims, was happy to see the federal budget included money targeted at fighting Islamophobia. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

The budget promises $5.6 million over five years with $1.2 million ongoing support for a new special representative on combating Islamophobia, as well as $4 million to the Department of Canadian Heritage to help support the Muslims in Canada Archive. 

The NCCM is a partner on the archive project, and Farooq said its aim is to tell everyday stories about Muslim Canadians.

Farooq, who lives in Ottawa himself, said that could includes stories about the Ottawa Muslim Association, which he says is the oldest mosque in Canada. 

"Telling stories of how Canadian Muslims have been here for hundreds of years and the stories that they have to provide, I think, is really, really important," Farooq said. 

Amy Go, the president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, is pictured in Toronto last February. Go said while she's happy with news of the anti-racism strategy, she'd hoped funding would specifically be aimed at fighting anti-Asian racism. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

No specific money to combat anti-Asian racism

Amy Go, president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, said she was happy to see money for a new anti-racism strategy but had hoped to see funds targeted specifically at fighting anti-Asian racism. 

"As an Asian Canadian, I would love to highlight that we would love to see more attention to the rising anti-Asian hate," Go said.

"There doesn't seem to be a specific measure or specific attention to address the issues that we are still very much experiencing as Asian-Canadians across the country."

Go said her organization has been invited to a first round table with Minister of Inclusion and Diversity and Housing Ahmed Hussen, and hoped that would be the start of an ongoing conversation rather than a one-time consultation.