19 May UNDPAD Push Coalition Seeks Stronger Federal Government COVID19 Response for Black Canadians
May 19, 2020 (Ottawa) The UNDPAD Push Coalition applauds the roll out of funding for Black communities announced by the federal government on May 16, 2020, in recognition of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent. However, additional measures are necessary to address the immediate needs of this demographic during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced a grant of $5 million dollars for Black communities to address Capital Assist funding. The Minister also announced that three Black intermediary groups will launch their own funding calls seeking proposals from grassroots organizations from across Canada for capacity-building initiatives before the end of 2020. The intent, to ensure that the eligibility criteria for the intermediaries charged with assessing and approving project funds, is that they must be Black-led and managed. This is a welcome measure ensuring funds are disbursed and kept within our communities.
“We have been waiting since the August 27, 2019 announcement for these monies earmarked for critical capacity-build initiatives within our Black communities,” said Andrea Pierce, UNDPAD Push Coalition, Ottawa spokesperson. “Now these supports have gone from urgent to critical due to the COVID19 Pandemic.”
Persistent inequities have exacerbated the Pandemic’s impact on Black communities. A situation that the news media have repeatedly reported on, calling it “a crisis within a crisis.” It is a public health and safety issue as much as it is about social, economic and racial justice, noted Pierce. Black Canadians, in particular Black women, often employed in the service sector, have faced more serious job losses due to the service sector shutdown.
“On top of this, social service organizations report that significant numbers of Black Canadians across the country working on the front lines, or whose socio-economic circumstances do not allow them to self-isolate, are even more vulnerable and have been further marginalized by this situation,” said Evelyn Myrie, Afro Canadian Caribbean Association, Hamilton.
The UNDPAD Push Coalition contends that with a timely release of the earmarked funding, Black community organizations would have been much better equipped to respond to the COVID19 crisis.
In January 2018, the Government of Canada officially recognized the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent (UNDPAD) and committed to specific actions to address the recommendations made by the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to Canada. This was followed by a commitment in the March 2019 Federal Budget of $25 million to build capacity in Black Communities.
“The statistics and research available to us highlight the grave impact of COVID on the social well-being and economic sustainability of Black communities,” said Sylvia Parris-Drummond, Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute, Halifax. “Black Canadians are once again at risk of being marginalized by the lack of a focused government response.”
The UNDPAD Push Coalition, created to monitor and ensure that the federal government follows through on its commitments made to Black communities, will be continuing to assess and reply to further developments, including restoration of promised funding. The Coalition looks forward to ongoing discussions with the Minister towards positive outcomes for Black communities.