Rosie Awori (Local Journalism Initiative)
Of late the Liberal government has been focussing on inclusivity as well as social and economic equity for all groups as a major bastion of Canada’s democratic principles.
Black Canadians make up almost 4% of the country’s population and have remained one of the most marginalized groups in Canada, due mainly to identifiable systemic racism.
A direct consequence is, over-representation of Blacks among the unemployed, under-employed and those in need of a social and economic boost.
In 2019 Trudeau government attempted to address that reality and announced an initiative to provide $25 million in funding for the Black-led organisations.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development went on a cross Canada media tour providing updates on the funds, much of which was still available to Black led organisations.
Gere is the Q&A with the CONTACT.
Honorable minister by way of introduction I know that your ministry is keen on poverty reduction and having community that is able to contribute to the growth of the economy. Could you shed more light on the social development program that is dealing with minorities, specifically Black Canadian Communities?
In 2018 we allocated 25 million dollars over three years to build, capital, infrastructure as well as capacity within Black Canadian community organisations. What happened was that for many years Canadian have been saying to the federal government that from the program money they provide they (Black organisations) need to build their capacity.
The government have acknowledged this and see the need to build the capacity of Black organisations, because they do a lot of important work and they need help with infrastructure and with capital.
And once they build their capacity by so doing, they are able to do their work on a larger scale and even get more funding. Capacity building refers to the ability to compete for government funding and get other sources of funding and make the organisation more sustainable. And so, we delivered this supporting Black Canadian communities through this ministry and the 25 million (dollars.)
The first stream was announced for capital funding and that is now closed, and the next round is going to come out in the fall of this year and that will be the capacity building funding. That will be money that goes to Black Canadian Community Organisations to help them build their capacity
What does this program cover and why do you feel it is important for this program to come from the government?
We were planning to do and as a ministry and we decided to include a large number of Black Canadian organisations to become the intermediaries so that even as we improve the capacity of the smaller community based organisations we also improved the capacity of the larger organisations by having them administer the program and applications. We felt that that would be good experience for them.
What approach is the government taking to ensure sustainability?
This is not just a one-year funding program so sustainability comes from the fact that this is five-year funding so at least for 5 years this support will continue to flow to help capacity building and capital. In addition to that we have also invested some money to establish the Canadian Institute for People of African Decent which is up and running. We have done a lot with this money and I can tell you that we are in it for the long term.
These are rather unprecedented times what other measures is the government putting in place to help families in Canada during this pandemic?
On May 20 we provided a one-time payment of $300 per child to every family receiving the Canada child benefit so that families can have a little bit more money for the pandemic. We also increased the Canada Child Benefit permanently on July 20, and that will go a long way to support families. In addition to that we provided more support to individuals and couples as part of the GST support in the amount of $400 for individuals and $600 for couples. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit has made a big difference in families to be able to put food on the table and pay the rent same with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and at the end of the day I believe we are delivering.