Skip to content

New anti-racism legislation aims to hold B.C. accountable for systemic flaws

Attorney-General Niki Sharma says Anti-Racism Act will help eliminate systemic racism in government
Attorney-General Niki Sharma Thursday announced that government will be tabling the Anti-Racism Act to root out “systemic racism” and advance “racial equity” in provincial policies, programs and services. (Screencap)

Attorney-General Niki Sharma says the Anti-Racism Act tabled Thursday (April 11) will help dismantle what she called “systemic racism” within government and advance racial equity.

Key provisions of the legislation include targets for the recruitment, retention and advancement of Indigenous as well as non-Indigenous racialized people through government, including senior levels and regular assessments of government programs.

“For the first time ever, government is holding itself accountable and public bodies accountable to build in more checks and balances to eliminate racism in provincial policies, programs and services,” Sharma said before tabling the legislation.

The legislation calls for the establishment of a provincial committee on anti-racism to guide the development of an anti-racism plan by June 1, 2026.

“This committee will develop standards, targets and indicators for anti-racism training and curriculum in government,” she said. “Alongside this, we will continue to engage Indigenous groups to address the unique forms of racism they experience, because of our colonial history.”

Groups working with Indigenous and racialized people will also receive grants to support those most affected by racism, she added.

Sharma said the legislation builds on previous legislation designed to anonymously collect and report data on discrimination faced by Indigenous and racialized minorities interacting with provincial services.

RELATED: ‘A road map’: Anti-racism data committee releases 12 priorities

The new legislation will put that data into action and set targets for the public service “for how we are representing as a government the people of British Columbia,” Sharma said.

She added that her office will also be able to issue compliance orders to public bodies that are not responding to the plan.

She said the legislation evolved out of one of the most extensive and expensive consultations ever done by government.

“It’s truly legislation by the people for the people of the British Columbia,” she said.

Premier David Eby, Education Minister Rachna Singh, Labour Minister Harry Bains, Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives to the attorney general, and representatives from a range of groups attended the announcement in Victoria.

B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner Kasari Govender welcomed the legislation, calling it “a significant stride” toward addressing systemic racism.

“Building on the groundwork laid by the Anti-Racism Data Act, the (act) is important for ensuring that B.C. uses disaggregated demographic and race-based data to spotlight disparities and propel human rights to the forefront and that it does so under the guidance of Indigenous peoples and other racialized communities,” Govender said in a statement.

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
Read more