The provincial government is encouraging more B.C. residents to fill out a survey to identify systemic racism in government services.
The B.C. Demographic Survey will allow the government to collect race-based data to help recognize and eliminate systemic racism withing the B.C. government and government services. On Monday, July 24, provincial and local representatives gathered at the Bee’s Knees Café in Nanaimo to promote the initiative.
“We know that systemic racism and other forms of discrimination have shaped government programs and services for generations,” said Lisa Beare, B.C.’s minister of citizens’ services. “We want to put an end to this unjust practice. And we’ll need some real information about where the gaps and barriers are.”
Beare said the survey has been delivered to 800,000 households so far, and since it was made available on June 14, there have been approximately 42,000 responses. The ministry has also awarded almost $88,000 in community grants to 35 organizations to help promote the survey.
“This survey is your opportunity, our opportunity, as members of this province, as residents of this province, as members of all different communities, to really help the government show up, and reveal, and discern and truly begin to understand the kind of inequities that are out there,” said June Francis, chairperson of the anti-racism data committee. “If we don’t understand something, we cannot fix it, the government cannot fix it.”
In late May, the province identified 12 priorities for anti-racism research in collaboration with the committee and Indigenous peoples. Access to health care, issues within the justice system and hiring practices within the government are among the priorities listed, and the survey data is expected to help inform how the province tackles those problems.
Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of social development and poverty reduction, spoke about some of the related issues in her own riding. She mentioned the long-closed Nanaimo Indian Hospital and its history of abuse against Indigenous people, which she said continues to affect Indigenous people today and is a reason some choose not to access services at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
“We know all this information will help us understand where changes are needed, as we’re building a system of care. We need to get it right, and this is our opportunity,” said Malcolmson.
The survey will be available until Sept. 29 at www.antiracism.gov.bc.ca, or call 1-833-376-2452.