Consultations will be launched in September
When it comes to racism in Quebec, go to the facts for evidence, although much of it is anecdotal because in this province hardly any institution keeps numbers to trace the discrimination faced by Indigenous People, Blacks, Muslims, Latinos and other minorities in the province.
However, stories are plentiful about the hurdles that are in the way of these groups as they try to access employment, proper housing, social services or deal with the police and other law enforcement agencies.
In fact, Quebecers have been quite forthcoming about their attitude when it comes to those who are not French and white: in a Leger Marketing poll not long ago, 59 percent of them admit to being racist towards visible minorities and immigrants.
Also, Kathleen Weil, the minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness says she sees evidence of this attitude regularly, especially in areas of employment where highly qualified immigrants find it extremely difficult to find employment in this province.
So after years of quietly evading the issue, the government will be launching a consultation of systemic racism and discrimination in Quebec society.
Minister Weil made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday, May 20.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with its new director, Tamara Thermitus, Weil says the Quebec Human Rights Commission will lead the consultations, which will be launched in the fall, with public meetings held across the province in September and October.
Individuals and groups will also be able to submit their experiences and reports of racism and discrimination on-line at a special website which will be launched in the coming weeks.
The government will also put into place four working groups in targeted areas such as employment, housing and social services, and law enforcement, where the impact of systemic racism and discrimination is most pervasive and destructive.
If all goes as planned, the process will culminate with a public forum in November when some of the testimonies and the findings will be made public. Then the Human Rights Commission will submit its report together with recommendations to the government sometime in February 2018.
Minister Weil promises that the government will have an action in place to deal with systemic racism and discrimination by the spring of 2018. (See also Yvonne Sam on page 19).