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Black Health Strategy Fact Sheet

TORONTO -- June 25 -- Today we want to share a Factsheet that outlines the coming Black Health Strategy for Ontario, created and advanced by the Black Health Committee. This strategy will be crucial in addressing anti-Black racism and addressing police and other systemic violence as public health issues.

Over the last month, we’ve marked one year since the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota by a police officer and one year since the demonstrations and calls for action in the United States, Canada, and around the world for systemic reform to address anti-Black racism, including defunding police and resourcing communities for health and wellbeing.

Thousands gathered at Queen’s Park in late May to again demand action to address anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in policing in Ontario and Canada, for better mental health and other community-level supports, and an end to police violence and action on systemic racism across society, even as police violence against Black people continues to happen regularly – in people’s homes, on public transit, in city streets and Black communities.

During COVID-19 in Ontario, Canada, and across the world, we continue to witness the pandemic of anti-Black racism exposed by the virus, with the violence, stigma, blame, and disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 borne by Black and other racialized populations as the pandemic and its impacts have spread. Hard truths of white privilege and many years of systemic anti-Black racism in policies and resourcing have combined to show in glaring data that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black people, communities and wellbeing, falling along the same lines as marginalization due to poverty, housing instability and precarious work.

Amid these disparities, Black communities and leaders have stepped in to address racism embedded in policies and structures by working around and removing systemic barriers to keep people safe, to get them the vaccines, to renew some hope through the despair of the pandemic. The urgency of this public health crisis continues to show people in real-time how anti-Black racism, white structural supremacy, and its effects impact health, but also what the community-led solutions to addressing that oppression can look like and how effective those local solutions and interventions are when they’re recognized and resourced. The possibilities for a new future are on display every day.

Community-level solutions that are needed to improve health and wellbeing in Black communities for Black people must be led and designed by Black community members and Black leaders, as we’ve seen successfully demonstrated during COVID-19 responses and lately by vaccine rollouts in marginalized communities. The work of addressing anti-Black racism and the systemic white supremacy that fuels it must be work led by white people, led by those with the privilege, power and recognition of systems of oppression. It will take the will of leaders to make substantive changes -- to build consensus towards, for example, fundamentally changing the way policing of laws happens in communities, the way that drug use is approached in communities, the way that we fund and approach policies for basic income and housing, the way we educate ourselves about racism and race (among students and professionals in health care and other sectors), the ways we collect, share and allow data to inform decision-making for health and wellbeing.

In our streets, schools, hospitals, health centres, doctor’s offices, community spaces, playgrounds, businesses, offices, halls of power, and everywhere in between, we must take action to end anti-Black racism. Period.

The Black Health Committee has endorsed the development of a multi-year strategy to address Black health issues in the health system planning, the design of health services, and policies to improve Black health outcomes. The strategy, a culmination of months of consultation and research, will be launched in September 2021. The full strategy will outline the principles, goals and strategies the committee will take to advance sustainable long-term action to improve the health and wellbeing of all Black Ontarians. This Factsheet outlines some of the principles that form the foundation of the strategy and its goals, mandate, and focus areas. We encourage you to share the Factsheet widely in your organizations and begin thinking about you and your organizations’ roles in this work in advance of the town hall launch of the strategy in September.

Friday, June 25, 2021