On Oct 19th, #KitchenerCouncil will meet for the Community and Infrastructure Services committee where they will look at the following recommendation that will advance the city’s work on equity, anti-racism, and Indigenous initiatives, and other social justice issues. Here is staff's recommendation:
The Mayor’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion consists of ~30 community members and ~15 staff, and was formed in 2019. Councillors Marsh and Singh, and the mayor also sit on this committee.
The staff report outlines some of the initiatives that have been implemented (or will soon be due to delays from the pandemic) including: staff EDI training, the city’s first Workforce Census, on-demand interpretation services for residents, and the collection of demographic info on Engage Kitchener surveys.
The report also provides updates on other projects: Indigenous opportunities for the Huron Natural Area and Kitchener’s Housing Strategy.
The report goes on to outline one of the major issues that is to be addressed through the task force: the lack of any paid city staff working specifically on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion or other social justice issues such as poverty and homelessness.
Several recent events are noted in the report as ‘solidifying and accelerating’ this work: the June 3rd Black Lives Matter march, the establishment of the O:se Kenhionhata:tie (Land Back) camp in Victoria Park, and the development of the Lot 42 Better Tent City (Shout out to folks involved in these things – you’re affecting real change!)
Several factors, outlined in the report, contributing to the urgent need for staff in these areas include: the Truth and Reconciliation Report; the Ontario Human Rights Code; the city’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work plan, and the city’s Housing Strategy.
From the report: “Staff are recommending the creation of an Equity, Anti-Racism and Indigenous Initiatives team that would provide the city and city council with dedicated leadership, expertise, and senior level competencies in issues of equity, anti-racism, discrimination, Indigenous initiatives, and other social justice issues”.
This team would include: a Director, Senior Indigenous Advisor, Senior Anti-Racism Advisor, Analyst, and a Social Planning Associate.
Staff recommend that the hiring of a Director happens presently, ideally before the end of 2020. The other roles would then be filled in 2021, under the guidance of that Director.
The financial implications of creating these new Full-Time staff positions are outlined In the report as costing an estimated $556,000 (but that impact can be spread out over 2 years given the phased-in hiring).
If you'd like to see the city progress on these issues, you can let them know by emailing them. Or you can use this template that will allow you to email everyone at once. (Side note: individual emails often are given more weight by elected officials, but any action you can take is worthwhile!). Thanks for reading.