More than five months ago, Kenneth Jeffers, a member of the Toronto Police Service Board and longtime community proactivist, wrote a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne calling for the establishment of a civilian oversight Board of the Human Rights Commission (OHRC) with a standing sub-committee to address anti-Black racism issues.
He still has not received a reply to his letter, Jeffers told a meeting of the Expose Toronto Committee at the Edithvale community centre last Thursday evening.
The meeting, chaired by Arlene Wallace, was called to discuss the problem of anti-Black racism in the workplace
” I recently contacted the office of the Premier and was told a reply to my letter was sent out but to date I have not received it,” Jeffers said.
But he is not prepared to just sit and wait on a reply from Wynne, he said.
Since he sent the letter to Wynne, Jeffers along with lawyer Knia Singh met with Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner with the OHRC, to discuss the proposed oversight board.
In an interview with the Caribbean Camera last December, Mandhane had said the OHRC already has civilian oversight through part-time Commissioners appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.
But she said that Jeffer’s concerns about Anti-Black racism are “serious matters and deserve serious consideration.”
Several persons at the meeting affected by the problem spoke about their experiences.
One of them who was a member of staff in the in the City of Toronto, said he were traumatized by the presence of three custodial staff dressed as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) .
In his letter to the Premier, Jeffers had made reference to several cases of persons who were affected by “racism in the workplace.
Noting the impact of workers being “victimized, harassed and humiliated,” Jeffers had said that few people would know “of the domino effect on family and friends when their mental health becomes severely challenged.”
Jeffers told the meeting that a plan has to be drawn up to deal with the problem .
And part of that plan is to publicize as widely as possible the problems which many in the black community face in the workplace both in the private and public sector.
In an interview after the meeting, Jeffers explained why he felt it was necessary to make representation directly to Premier Wynne.
“We need legislative change and as head of the provincial government, Premier Wynne is in a position to bring this about,”
“It’s not enough just to march on the street to bring about change,” he remarked.