The Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat

The Mandate

Under Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, 2019-2022, the Anti-Racism Secretariat (ARSEC), within the Department of Canadian Heritage, was established in October 2019. It has already started its work to engage with provinces and territories, civil society, Indigenous peoples, and stakeholders from diverse communities to identify and develop further areas for action. The Secretariat is supported by existing interdepartmental committees and leads a whole-of-government approach in addressing racism. In addition to coordinating federal action and driving the overall strategy, the Secretariat works with federal departments and agencies to address the effects of discrimination. This means leading federal institutions to identify and coordinate responsive initiatives, identify gaps, assist in developing new initiatives, and consider the impacts of new and existing policies, services and programs on communities and Indigenous Peoples.

ARSEC is contributing to work being undertaken by the Treasury Board Secretariat toward a more diverse and inclusive public service. The Secretariat liaises with provinces and territories, and it engages and works with non-government partners, Indigenous Peoples and communities to identify and develop further areas for action. The Secretariat will report publicly on the whole-of-government outcomes in addressing racism and discrimination. In addition, the Anti-Racism Secretariat is focusing on increasing awareness of the historical roots of racism and discrimination, and its different impacts on diverse communities, including Black Canadians, as well as on taking initial measures to address online disinformation and hate speech.

Recent Activities

Most recently, the Anti-Racism Secretariat set up the Equity-Seeking Communities & COVID-19 Taskforce, with Women and Gender Equality Canada. Convening 85 members who represent 25 federal departments and institutions, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission, it provides an ongoing interdepartmental forum to share information, align strategies, policy and initiatives, and engage with equity-seeking communities on concrete solutions, from a human rights perspective. The Taskforce has been working, through Assistant Deputy Minister-level and Deputy Minister-level COVID-19 committees and tables, to ensure the federal response to the pandemic and the recovery process is adapted, where possible to the specific needs of equity-seeking communities.

Since the Taskforce launched, the federal government has recognized that COVID-19 is disproportionally affecting equity-seeking communities. It has also adapted its response accordingly. For example, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has now been made available to eligible international students. The Government of Canada has now waived requiring temporary foreign residents provide proof of a valid work permit or renewal of an expiring permit by email to receive CERB. Federal information on COVID-19 is now available in 33 languages. Hundreds of organizations can now access a $350M Emergency Community Response Fund, including organizations that serve racialized, religious minority and Indigenous groups. Moreover, the federal government is now working with the Government of Ontario to begin collecting health-related race-based data. Lastly, through the Digital Citizenship Initiative, the federal government has since committed close to $1M to support organizations in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver combating anti-Asian racism across the country.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: