The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a concerning rise in instances of discrimination and hate crimes directed towards Canadians of Asian descent. Between March 2020 and February 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 1,150 cases of racist attacks from across Canada. Most of these incidents, 40 per cent and 44 per cent of all cases of racist attacks and incidents, were reported from Ontario and British Columbia respectively. In many instances, these racially motivated attacks have targeted the vulnerable, including children and the elderly. The partnership and support announced by the Ontario government is part of an ongoing effort to protect children and create safe learning environments.
“Racism and discrimination have no place in our schools and our government is acting to protect students and promote inclusivity for all children,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes have sharply and disturbingly risen against Asian-Canadians. In our schools, we celebrate diversity and champion inclusion, as no child deserves to feel unsafe in their schools and in this country.”
Support is being provided as part of the Safe Return to Class fund, and Ontario is directing $140,000 to Hong Fook Mental Health Association for mental health supports for Asian students, families and teachers. That includes offering counselling and workshops in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
As part of the Safe Restart agreement, Ontario has partnered with community groups to combat anti-Asian racism, support advocacy for educational issues and concerns related to Asian Canadians in the education system and address pandemic-induced issues and risks for East Asian Ontario families. This includes providing:
- $50,000 to the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice to develop online resources and tools to help Chinese Canadian households engage their children, from Grades 3 to 5, in discussions about racism.
- $10,000 to the Asian Canadian Educators Network (ACENET) to develop a series of professional learning and workshops about anti-Asian racism for schools and boards in Ontario.
- $140,000 to Community Family Services of Ontario to deliver resources and supports relevant to pandemic-induced issues and risks faced by newcomers and East Asian Ontario families.
“To honour the proud contributions, storied history, and sacrifice Canadians of Asian heritage have made to building this country, our government is partnering and investing to directly counter anti-Asian racism in our schools and communities,” added Minister Lecce. “We are acting to protect students, combat anti-Asian racism, and ensure that all children are celebrated.”
In all, as part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, the Ontario government is directing $6.4 million toward equity-related projects, including funding to community organizations to address anti-Asian hate, antisemitism, and Islamophobia; support for newcomer parents and families to enhance access to school and community resources, and culturally appropriate mental health supports for youth, families and teachers.