Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

March 18, 2005 09:55 ET

ONTARIO FEDERATION OF LABOUR STATEMENT ON MARCH 21ST

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - March 18, 2005) - More than four decades ago the United Nations declared March 21st, the Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This was after 69 black demonstrators were murdered and 180 wounded by armed South African police in Sharpeville. The demonstrators were protesting the racist pass laws which required Black South Africans to seek permission to pass from one area to another.

This year, as Canadians commemorate this day, there is no absence of evidence to verify that First Nations people, people of African descent and people of colour generally continue to experience racial discrimination in terms of access to employment and government services.

In Ontario, the province that attracts the largest number of new Canadians, there has been a systematic erosion of human rights. First, by the Harris Conservatives that failed to provide promised resources to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and abolished the Anti-Racism Secretariat of the Ministry of Citizenship, and now followed by the McGuinty Liberals.

During the 2003 elections, McGuinty promised a Liberal government would increase funding to the Human Rights Commission to ensure that the Commission could properly enforce the Code. Instead, no new funding was provided and the Commission has recently reduced staff in the Intake Department and changed the procedure to file a complaint. Potential complainants are now given a package of guidelines to complete their own complaint. Since English is a second language for many seeking to exercise their rights under the Human Rights Code and these guidelines are available only in the two official languages, many are left without the protection of the Code.

There is no doubt that the political climate created by both the Conservatives and Liberals have resulted in less protection for the most vulnerable in Ontario. And while the Ontario Federation of Labour and its affiliates will continue to provide worker education on human rights and anti-racism training for our members, the Liberal government must live up to its responsibility to ensure that the inherent rights of its citizens to be free from racism and other forms of discrimination, as promised under The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, are enforced.

cope343 /For further information: June Veecock OFL Human Rights Director 1.800.668.9138 (toll free)/ IN: JUSTICE, LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, RELIGION

Contact Information

  • Wayne Samuelson, OFL President
    Primary Phone: 416-571-7408