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.


Infographic: The case for race-based statistics?

Infographic: The case for race-based statistics

Click on the image for a PDF version of the infographic

Why collect race-based statistics?

The Ontario Human Rights Commission finds data collecting can help:

  • verify, monitor, measure and address gaps, trends, progress and perceptions
  • proactively identify opportunities for improvement and growth
  • improve the quality of decision-making, service delivery and programming

Examples of why collecting data is a good idea:

  • Prevent or address systemic barriers to access and opportunity
  • Plan special programs
  • Improve equitable service delivery and programs

What the numbers are telling us

LAO currently doesn’t collect data about the race of applicants or clients, but we do rely on secondary data about race. Here’s how stats shed a light on our services in the various areas of law that we cover.

About the child welfare system:

  • Ontario’s children’s aid societies have agreed to collect race data to help figure out the needs of Black and Aboriginal families
  • 42% of youth in care of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto are Black, but only 8.2% of the city’s under 18 population is Block.
  • 23% of children in care province-wide are Aboriginal, but only 2.5% of Ontario’s under 19 population is Aboriginal.

About school disciplinary hearings:

  • Not all Ontario school boards collect data on race and suspension rates
  • Toronto District School Board data revealed that Black students are suspended disproportionately compared to white students
  • LAO will provide funding to two organizations to help Black students who are suspended and facing expulsion hearings

About the bail system:

  • Racialized and Aboriginal people face more over-policing practices and racial profiling
  • Racialized and Aboriginal people are more likely to find themselves in pre-trial detention
  • 13% of the remand detention population is Aboriginal but only 2% of Ontario’s population is Aboriginal

How collecting race-based data could help LAO

LAO currently doesn’t collect statistics on applicants’ or clients’ race. Understanding data, however, could help us understand how we can help improve the outcomes of racialized communities when they come into contact with the justice system.

Additionally, we can:

  • document and study systemic discrimination in the justice system
  • remove barriers people face when accessing our services
  • tailor programs to address client needs

Next steps:

In early engagement sessions, LAO has repeatedly heard about the need to collect data about clients’ race.

LAO has begun the process of figuring how to gather and analyze this data. Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.