Racialized communities strategy

About the strategy

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has committed to developing a multi-year, multi-faceted, province-wide racialized

communities strategy that will build upon the services and supports that LAO already has in place.


Racialized Communities Strategy Infographic

Infographic: Why we need a Racialized Communities Strategy

Infographic content is below

Infographic: Why we need a Racialized Communities Strategy

What do we mean by “Racialized Communities”?

  • Racialized communities refer to all people who do not consider themselves to be white. (First Nation, Métis and Inuit people are not considered racialized. To learn more about LAO’s Aboriginal Justice Strategy, please visit legalaid.on.ca/AJS.)

    We used to say “visible minorities” to refer to people who were non-white or non-European in ancestry, but increasingly, there are many places where people of colour make up the majority of the population.

  • Over the past 20 years, there has been an overrepresentation of racialized communities in the justice system

A snapshot of legal and social needs

  • Increased poverty rates
  • Overrepresentation in jails and prisons
  • Increased rates of homelessness
  • Lack of access to education, fair work, healthcare or police protection for people without status
  • Disproportionate rate of over-policing
  • Discrimination in school discipline
  • Barriers to employment and overrepresentation in low-paying, unstable jobs
  • People of colour make up almost 26% of Ontario’s population. Ontario is the province of choice with 3.6 million immigrants — just over half of all newcomers to Canada call it home.
  • By 2017, more than half of Toronto’s population will be people of colour
  • Nearly one in five immigrants experiences a state of chronic low income…
  • … More than twice the rate of Canadian-born individuals
  • 19% of Ontario families from racialized communities live in poverty compared to 6% from non-racialized communities


  • Colour of Poverty Campaign (http://www.learningandviolence.net/lrnteach/material/PovertyFactSheets-aug07.pdf)
  • Giddens, Margaret, and David Cole. “The Report of the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System.” 1998.
  • The Homeless Hub (http://homelesshub.ca/about-homelessness/population-specific/racialized-communities)
  • Kellough, Gail, and Scot Wortley. “Remand for Bail: Bail and Plea Bargaining as Commensurate Decisions.” British Journal of Criminology, 42. 2002.
  • McMurtry, Roy, and Alvin Curling. The Roots of Youth Violence. 1998.
  • Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, and Scot Wortley. “Race, Crime and Criminal Justice in Canada.” The Oxford Handbook of Ethnicity, Crime, and Immigration, 292. Ed. Sandra M. Bucerius and Michael H. Tonry. Oxford University Press, 2013 [reviewed online only]
  • Report of the Office of Correctional Investigator. “Case Study in Diversity in Corrections: The Black Inmate Experience in Federal Penitentiaries.” November 2013.
  • Statistics Canada. 2011 Census of Canada.