Research, Policy & Advocacy
Electoral Participation ResearchAs part of its core mandate, the Council engages in research, policy and advocacy work that advances the state of knowledge about African Canadians generally, and Continental African Canadians in particular, and which lead to the development, review or change in policy and related programs such as to protect or enhance the well-being of the community.
In addition to the compilation of statistical data on poverty and other measures, the Council’s research endeavors over the years has yielded a path-breaking understanding of the extent and factors contributing to the electoral participation behavior of Continental African Canadians vis-à-vis the Canadian electoral system. One of the resulting products, “Continental African Canadians Do Not Vote, But Why: Research and Findings Based on the 2003 City of Toronto & Greater Toronto Area Municipal Elections” was submitted for academic publication prior to its release. On the basis of the findings of this research, the Council was able to develop a set t of programmatic supports aimed at better promoting civic engagement among Continental African Canadians.
Policy & Research Agenda-Setting
In April 2007, the Council brought together a large number of member agency representatives, general community members, and a number of distinguished and newly-emergent academics and researchers to help establish an agenda of policy and research issues for the community. This first ever, Continental African Canadian Policy and Research Forum, indeed produced a number of research and policy questions, which the Council worked on with specific member organizations and researchers and other stakeholders for the help of the community.
Decent Wages & Working Conditions for Families
In the meantime, the Council continues to be significantly involved in advocating on a number of issues that concern the well being of the community as a whole. One such issue is the challenge of ensuring decent wages and working conditions for all, including members of the African Canadian community.
The Council is particularly proud to be one of the community champions in a broad community-labor coalition fighting for fairer contracts for hotel workers in the Greater Toronto Area. We are happy to say this united effort has already resulted in path-breaking contracts for the hotel workers, a significant proportion of who are the mothers and sons of the immigrant communities.
Immigrant Seniors Income Security Advocacy
The Council has also played a very active role in mobilizing seniors and the general community in support of income security for immigrant seniors. In fact, the Council has been a leader in facilitating the establishment of the first ever national network of immigrant seniors, the Immigrant Seniors Advocacy Network (ISAN).
This coalition of immigrant seniors themselves as well as immigrant seniors-supporting organizations, such as ourselves, the Chinese Canadian National Council- Toronto Chapter (CCNCT), the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), the Hispanic Development Council (HDC), and Old Age Benefits Forum (OABF), now has more than 3,000 individual members across Canada, and has already succeeded in putting forward a number of recommendations for action
Outputs like Hearing the Voices of Immigrant Seniors in Toronto: Forum Proceedings Report (ISAN-APG) & All-Party Resolution for Income Security for Immigrant Seniors, which have been submitted to a large number of key stakeholders, including the Canadian Prime Minister, the Leaders of the Opposition, and all the official political party critics, for their action.
As indicated in the recommended All-Party Resolution, our coalition has been calling on the Government of Canada to:
- Amend Canada’s Old Age Security Act, Regulations and Policies to eliminate the 10-year residency requirement so that all immigrant seniors, too, would qualify for the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
- Work with Provincial Governments to waive the enforcement of sponsorship obligations through government cost-recovery schemes as a condition of financial support in situations of genuine immigration sponsorship breakdown involving a senior.
- Establish a nominal public transit charge for all seniors in Canada, similar to the nominal $45/year charged seniors in British Columbia.
- Provide government funding to support more ethno specific, affordable housing for seniors who need or desire it.
As part of this campaign, the Council has established a diverse, African Seniors Network, the members of which are directly engaged in advocating for programs and services for themselves.
Preventing Abuse of Police Powers
Also on the policy and advocacy front, in the wake of the Jama Said Jama case, where abuse of police power almost resulted in the framing of a community member with the serious charge of assault against a police officer, the Council then called on the Attorney General and the Solicitor General of Ontario to work towards the establishment of two key protocols, designed to prevent such abuse of power and to reassure the community of safety and fairness:
- A Criminal Charge Decision-Making Protocol: We have asked the Solicitor General to establish this protocol which would be used to vet all instances where the police wished to charge a member of the African Canadian community with the offence of assaulting a police officer. The protocol we recommended would charge a senior police officer with the responsibility of due diligence in conducting a thorough review of the basis of any claim of assault against a police officer before a community member is actually charged. In this way, the danger of abuse of power, which the Jama Said Jama case evidenced, would be removed.
- A Criminal Charge Decision-Making Protocol: This protocol, which we asked the Ontario Attorney General to establish, would act as a set of rules of procedure and responsibility, which would be followed as part of the decision-making process in situations where a police force wishes to charge an African Canadian with assault against a police officer.
Specifically, the Criminal Charge Decision-Making Protocol would be used to routinely vet, for veracity, all charges of assault against a police officer laid by the police against a member of the African Canadian community – before the Crown would agree to prosecute such cases.
This would act as a double check against police power abuse by the Crown itself, and would help ensure that innocent African Canadians would not fall victim to the abuse of power videotaped in the Jama Said Jama case.
The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General wrote us to indicate that they found merit in this request, and would be looking into it further. Yet, we have yet to hear from them as to what actions they have taken to bring about such a protocol.
We will continue to pursue both ministries on these protocols until success is achieved. This is because we believe the establishment and combined diligent implementation of these two protocols would help reassure members of our community that those ultimately charged and prosecuted for such offences actually merit such charges and prosecution. It would therefore help remove one key barrier to positive community-police relations and mutual cooperation.
With these measures, we are confident that the community and the police would be able to embark on a new era of positive community-police relations that can only lead to the safety and security of the African Canadian community, and the effective and just performance of the police within all communities.