Toronto must address problems facing visible minorities

By Admin Thursday March 06 2014 in Opinion
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By TOM GODFREY

 

One of five people in Canada will be a visible minority by the time our nation’s 150th birthday rolls around in 2017, says a Statistics Canada study.

 

Some 8.5 million visible minorities will make Canada their home in three years and 75 per cent of us will live in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, says the study that predicts the largest groups will be the million-strong South Asian community, followed by the Chinese community with 735,000.

 

“The Black population would remain the third largest visible minority,” says Canada’s Visible Minority Population in 2017 Study. “It would reach around 1 million in 2017, compared with about 662,000 in the 2001 Census.”

 

The study examines the growth patterns of visible minorities and predicts that by 2017 half of Canada’s South Asians and Chinese will be living in Toronto. The population of Canada will exceed 40 million by then.

 

As the face of the city changes, it is critical that the concerns of racial profiling and carding of Blacks be dealt with and publicly-funded bodies as fire departments and government agencies reflect in their ranks members of our diversified community.

 

There has to be more innovative programs like an Ontario government pilot to recruit and help Black female employees in career advancement. These women would normally not have such an opportunity and it shows progressive thinking by some, even though the plan was blasted by a watchdog group.

 

Members of the community have been meeting with police in town hall meetings and public consultations over the years to address profiling concerns. Some in the community have taken to the courts to seek an end of the alleged practice by police that records their interactions with Blacks.

 

The concern has led to a $200 million class-action lawsuit against the Toronto Police Services Board that is proceeding through the courts.

 

This issue is an important cornerstone of the community and will not go away. There has to be policies to address profiling concerns today and for millions in the future.

 

Just look around, almost 50 per cent of Toronto residents are visible minorities, with the largest groups being Asians, Chinese and Blacks, according to a 2011 National Household Survey.

 

It is not surprising that Islam is our third most popular religion in Toronto, following Roman Catholics and Protestants; and Cantonese is the second most spoken language following English, the survey shows.

 

Police and civic leaders have to be prepared to handle fast growing groups such as the West Asians, Koreans and Arabs, whose communities are predicted to double in three years, according to the Survey.

 

The newcomers will bring added challenges to police and city workers who have to reach out and stretch resources to overcome language and cultural differences.

 

The Survey claims the top ethnic backgrounds of Toronto residents are English, Canadian-born, followed by Chinese, East Indian, Scottish and Irish. The top languages spoken are English, Cantonese, Italian, Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog and Urdu.

 

Roman Catholics accounted for 33.4 per cent of the population in 2001, followed by Protestants then Islam with 5.5 per cent, Hinduism with 4.1 per cent, Judaism 3.5 per cent, Buddhism with 2.1 per cent and Sikh with 1 per cent.

 

The findings show that alleged racial profiling may not be a major concern in areas outside Toronto, such as Brampton, where South Asians are the dominant group with 38.4 per cent of the population and in Markham where Chinese make up 38.3 per cent of the population.

 

The allegations are most prevalent in areas with the largest concentration of Blacks such as the ridings of Ward 42 – Scarborough Rouge-River where they make up 91 per cent of the population; Ward 40 – Scarborough-Agincourt with 78.8 per cent and Ward 1 – Etobicoke North with 72.9 per cent.

 

For a city this large and diversified, there cannot appear to be special policing for pre-selected groups since the law must be applied equally to us all.

 

Toronto was selected second to Miami in 2004 by the UN as the most multicultural place to live and we can move up in the ranking if we deal with issues such as racial profiling that are tormenting many right here at home.

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