Starting April 1, 2018, when someone applies for legal aid, we’ll be asking them about their race because this helps Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) to improve how we deliver services and to create the types of programs that certain racialized groups need.
“Collecting data on race helps us get a better understanding of who is and isn’t accessing our services and what kind of help they receive,” explains Moya Teklu, LAO’s racialized communities strategy lead. “Are certain groups not getting our services? Why? Are people from different groups receiving the same treatment and support?”
Teklu says that the collection of race-based data has, for a long time, been encouraged by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Race-based data collection standards were set out by the provincial government in the Anti‑Racism Act.
LAO’s race-based data collection is supported by community organizations that have consulted with our racialized communities strategy.
Currently, LAO collects information about First Nation, Métis and Inuit people and has an Aboriginal Justice Strategy that specifically addresses the legal needs of those clients.
LAO expects the collection and analysis of race-based data will similarly lead to expanded and enhanced services for racialized communities.
“This is an important opportunity to gather data that could show us—and the justice system, at large—how we can all better address the needs of racialized people,” says Teklu.