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Nova Scotia tackling equity, racism head on with new province-wide strategy and funding

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July 7, 2023
By Talent Canada

View of Province House from the south lawn. Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is tackling equity and racism head on with a new strategy the province calls “the first of its kind in Canada.”

The goal of the Equity and Anti-Racism Strategy, unveiled July 6, is to ensure a whole-government approach in addressing systemic hate, inequity and racism. and it details actions to ensure this work reaches all areas of the province, it said.

It includes incorporating equity and anti-racism into the public policy process, examining how hate motivated crimes are addressed and enhancing connections between government and under-represented and underserved communities.

“Systemic racism, hate and inequity have no place in our province,” said Premier Tim Houston. “This strategy acknowledges there are problems we need to address to help move us towards becoming a more equitable and inclusive province.”

The province will also support equity and anti-racism work at a local level. The province is spending $1.18 million in helping municipalities and villages develop equity and anti-racism plans, and the province will work with other public sector bodies in the future. There is also a total of up to $250,000 per year available to community organizations.

The strategy includes specific initiatives to address systemic hate, inequity and racism for under-represented and underserved communities in the province, specifically Mi’kmaq and Persons of Indigenous Descent, African Nova Scotians and Persons of African Descent, the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, gender communities, newcomers (immigrants and refugees), faith-based communities and persons with disabilities.

2SLGBTQIA+ people make up a vibrant part of our Nova Scotian communities and play a significant role in our local economy. However, they continue to experience systemic barriers, nearly half have hidden who they were in business dealings to avoid losing opportunities, and more than a third have lost business opportunities due to being 2SLGBTQIA+. This strategy is happening at a crucial time, highlighted by the barriers faced by Nova Scotian 2SLGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and community members, the need to ensure that equitable practices are intentionally woven into our society is stronger than ever,” said Connor McKiggan, business development manager, Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce.

It also includes the development of the first Nova Scotian action plan dedicated to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The plan will work to meet community needs and address hate and discrimination based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. The Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives will work with the community over the next year to create the plan, it said.

The Health Equity Framework – another Canadian first. according to the province – is also part of the strategy, with actions to make Nova Scotia’s health system more appropriate, effective and free from barriers and discrimination.

The framework was developed following extensive public consultation to ensure all Nova Scotians have safe, fair and equitable access to health services. The framework will help ensure equal access for all communities and individuals and contains actions to make healthcare more equitable.

The strategy also includes an engagement plan focused on psychological health and safety in the workplace. The government will be engaging with Nova Scotians in the coming months.

Quick facts

  • more than 1,200 Nova Scotians and 70 community organizations were engaged on definitions of specific types of racism and discrimination to be addressed in the strategy, including anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism, anti-Asian racism, ableism, antisemitism, gender and sexuality-based discrimination, Islamophobia and xenophobia
  • the Dismantling Racism and Hate Act was crafted by an all-party committee and passed in April 2022
  • it is the first legislation of its kind in Canada to address systemic inequity and racism across government

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