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Ontario Hansard - 03-June2020
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My next question is also to the Premier. Yesterday, our offices were contacted by Dorothy Rodriguez, the widow of Leonard Rodriguez, a Black PSW from Toronto who died from COVID-19 because he did not get the PPE that he needed at work. Leonard was a dedicated and beloved husband, father and colleague, but when Leonard got sick, the family experienced barrier after barrier in accessing appropriate care. After his death, the trauma only continued. Dorothy said, “We are not able to tell if this, the neglect from our health care system, is a pattern or a one-off, because there’s no data to support it.”
Dorothy has called for the immediate collection of race-based data by this government. Will the Premier listen to Dorothy?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Deputy Premier.
Hon. Christine Elliott: I thank the leader of the official opposition for this question. Normally, the Ministry of Health does not collect race-based data. It’s not considered to be particularly relevant. However, in this case—
Ms. Andrea Horwath: It has always been relevant.
Hon. Christine Elliott: It hasn’t been in the past. However, in this case we have seen the need for it to be done, and we are trying to set up a system where it can be done where people’s identity can be protected and where this can be collected, because this is going to be relevant to COVID-19, to areas where it has broken out. We want to make sure that every Ontarian’s health is protected.
This has been asked for by a number of organizations. We are listening, we are willing to collect this data, and we are looking at the best way to do so to protect everyone’s health and to make sure that we can continue to do that in future.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The supplementary question.
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Speaker, the way that Black people are treated in our health care system has always been relevant. Anti-Black racism exists systemically throughout all of our systems, and it’s shameful that this minister does not acknowledge or recognize that and thinks that it’s only relevant because of COVID-19. That is disgraceful.
Leonard Rodriguez spent 30 years of his life caring for vulnerable Ontarians as a PSW. His spouse is pleading with the government to act, and I can tell you, she is not alone. Health experts from across the province, as the minister already mentioned, have identified anti-Black racism as a public health crisis and have called for government action.
Dorothy said, “Canada has gone too long covering their eyes to racial discrimination by refusing to collect data that challenges Canada’s racial bias.” And that would be the same right here in Ontario—news flash for the minister. “We need a plan of action,” she says.
The Premier can answer this call today. Will the Premier acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of Ontarians face racial discrimination every day in this province and immediately issue an emergency order for the collection of race-based health data in Ontario?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The Premier to reply.
Hon. Doug Ford: Mr. Speaker, to the Leader of the Opposition: Of course, there’s systemic racism in Ontario. There’s systemic racism across this country. I know it exists.
What I don’t know are the hardships faced by those communities, and a lot of us in this chamber do not know the hardships within those communities. I don’t have those lived experiences. I do not have those lived experiences, and I can empathize with them. But again, a lot of us have never lived that. We have never walked a mile in someone’s shoes who has faced racism. Not only just in the Black community; a lot of minority communities throughout the history of Ontario and Canada have faced racism.
Our government won’t stand for it, I won’t stand for it as Premier, and we will do everything we can in our power and work collectively with other parties to stamp this out.
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