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Ontario pledges $340K to help combat anti-Asian racism through school programs
May 13, 2021
Kristin Rushowy

The Ontario government is pledging $340,000 to schools for programs to help combat anti-Asian racism, which has been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the funding Wednesday, saying it will be used for programming with outside partners to “help ensure students learn in more inclusive classrooms and are supported by their educators and communities.

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our schools and our government is acting to protect students and promote inclusivity for all children,” Lecce said in a written statement.

“Since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes have sharply and disturbingly risen against Asian-Canadians. In our schools, we celebrate diversity and champion inclusion, as no child deserves to feel unsafe in their schools and in this country.”

The government notes that from March 2020 to February 2021, about 40 per cent of the 1,150 attacks deemed racist across the country occurred in Ontario and youth were the targets in a number of them.

About $140,000 of the funding is set aside for mental health supports and resources for Asian students and educators via the Hong Fook Mental Health Association, and $50,000 for the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice to create online resources for families with younger children.

“The anti-Asian racism that we have been seeing in Ontario over the last year is not representative of our communities or our province,” said PC MPP Daisy Wai, who represents Richmond Hill.

“Ontarians are much better than that. The initiatives announced today will have a generational impact by ensuring that children understand and value the dignity of every human being and by making sure that every child feels safe at school.”

On Tuesday, Liberal MPPs Michael Coteau and Lucille Collard introduced a private member’s bill that would ensure anti-Asian racism is specifically mentioned in the province’s Anti-Racism Act.

The bill “will codify into law that anti-Asian hate must be combated by this government,” said Coteau, a former cabinet minister in charge of anti-racism.