Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says the money earmarked for black Canadians in this year’s budget sends a very powerful message. (Idil Mussa/CBC) The 2018 federal budget may have been written with a strong emphasis on gender equity, but money earmarked for another demographic — black Canadians — is also getting some attention.
The government is setting aside $19 million over five years to research culturally-appropriate mental health programs and support for black youth at risk.
Mental health experts said the funding will help improve access to treatment for a vulnerable sector of the population.
"This is actually the first time that the black community was mentioned in a federal budget," said Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes.
"It is a recognition that our government, over the last couple of years, has been listening to people."
One Conservative MP, however, took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with the "awful jargon" he said the government used to frame the funding announcement.
In response to a tweet by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen highlighting the funding for "racialized" Canadians, Maxime Bernier wrote, "I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same. Not to set some Canadians apart as being ‘racialized.’" I thought the ultimate goal of fighting discrimination was to create a colour-blind society where everyone is treated the same. Not to set some Canadians apart as being “racialized.” What’s the purpose of this awful jargon? To create more division for the Liberals to exploit? https://t.co/VFoSgsJcUk — @MaximeBernier At best, it allows the #CPC to continue to wipe their hands of playing an active role in the work that must be done to eradicate racism & at worst it means you are supporting the status quo by denying the very real experiences of people who live with racism every day. (2/2) — @AhmedDHussen Minister, are you saying MLK was “denying the experience of people who live with racism” when he said this?
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” https://t.co/fOTRa534lC — @MaximeBernier CBC reached out to Bernier for further comment, but the MP was out of the country and did not respond. Activist Tiffany Gooch: "It’ll never really seem like enough to some people and then to others it already seems like too much." (Supplied) Tiffany Gooch, a government relations and crisis communications expert, said she doesn’t believe Bernier’s remarks are representative of the Conservative party — but his exchange with Hussen does suggest the kind of criticism the funding announcement inevitably will attract.
"It’ll never really seem like enough to some people and then to others it already seems like too much," she said.
"From what I can see there’s still some level of opposition to the work that we’re trying to accomplish here in terms of righting a lot of wrongs that have been wrong for quite some time." Organizing for change
Gooch — who has worked for the Ontario Liberals in the past — was instrumental in coordinating Lobby Day events on Parliament Hill in 2017 and 2018.
The goal of the Lobby Day effort was to connect black leaders with politicians so they could advocate on key issues, such as acknowledging the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent and collecting data to better understand and fund the challenges facing blacks in Canada.
"I actually didn’t expect any of our asks to make this budget," said Gooch.
MP Jenny Kwan, the NDP critic for Multiculturalism, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said […]
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