In the second half of 2020, one of the things that Council did was to focus on Accessibility with several actions including hiring an Accessibility Coordinator (Jamie Kramer) on a full-time contract. Jamie’s goal is to create the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategy for the Town of Cobourg. So far she has helped setup an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee and secured a Provincial Grant of $60K to help with her work. And it’s not just disabled people that are being “included”; the list is long: Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, women, people with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two-Spirit, Intersex, and Asexual peoples, as well as those who identify as pansexual, questioning, non-binary, and other gender and sexual minorities (2SLGBTQIAP+) community and other visible minorities.
In an earlier memo to Council, Jamie said that “The 2016 Census shows us that 4.4% of the population in Cobourg identifies as a Racialized Person (Visible Minority) and 2.3% of the population identifies as an Indigenous Person (Aboriginal).” She did not have statistics for the other groups.
In January 2021, Cobourg joined the Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities (see link below).
There are multiple Canadian Laws requiring EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion):
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Government of Canada Guide)
- Canadian Human Rights Act (Government of Canada web page)
- Citizenship Act (Government of Canada web page)
- Canadian Multiculturalism Act (Government of Canada web page)
Why do we care?
As Jamie puts it:
Canada along with its provinces and territories has an exceptional system of human rights laws and ratified international treaties. Nevertheless, as in other parts of the world, racism and discrimination continue to raise barriers against the development of individuals and groups. Racism and discrimination divide communities, pose a serious threat to peaceful coexistence and exchange among and within communities, imperil democratic and participatory citizenship, and entrench and aggravate inequalities within society. Racism and discrimination continue to perpetuate the historical disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal peoples and other diverse groups, many of whom are members of Canada’s most economically and socially marginalized communities.
The Town currently has a 54 page Multi-Year Accessibility Plan for 2016 to 2019 (see link below) but a new one is needed for the years 2020 – 2024.
Jamie’s next step is to consult the public to find out what they “would like to be included as part of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy”. At the next Committee of the Whole meeting on 21 June, Jamie will be asking Council to approve these public sessions on Zoom:
- Tuesday, July 20th, 2021 at 7:00 pm until 9:00 pm;
- Thursday, July 22nd, 2021 at 3:00 pm until 5:00 pm;
- Saturday, July 24th, 2021 at 1:00 pm until 3:00 pm.
There would also be an online survey on EngageCobourg.
- Multi-Year Accessibility Plan for 2016 to 2019
- Town Press Release about joining Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities
- Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities web site
- Town of Cobourg EDI Page
- Advisory committees