Our Commitment to Equity and Inclusion
The agency aims to enhance and sustain an equitable, diverse and inclusive work environment through the use of an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, intersectionality framework to ensure excellence in service delivery, fruitful partnerships, strong accountability, and an enhanced reputation locally and provincially.
Equity is defined as the quality of being fair, unbiased, and just. Equity ensures a commitment to equal access to resources, opportunities, power and responsibility to all groups/communities. An equitable workplace environment enables an organization to be supportive of clients, staff along with internal and external collaborators towards meeting their full potential.
EQUITY IS A PROCESS & AN OUTCOME
Working towards equity and inclusivity is a process that requires the identification, assessment and understanding of the systems and processes that create and maintain barriers to equitable outcomes (e.g. inclusion, diversity, belonging, mattering, etc.). All policies and services that aid in the above endeavor are considered equity-based. As we engage in the process of equity towards equitable outcomes it requires that we treat everyone throughout the process with respect, dignity, fairness and care.
OUR APPROACH TO EQUITY
- The Agency acknowledges the injustices that have led to the present mistreatment and overrepresentation of both Indigenous and Black groups in our system. As a result, the Agency is critically aware of the need to ensure the well-being of both groups by addressing both forms of oppression as we work to provide service to all groups/communities.
- All staff to provide services that are co-developed and supported by equity-seeking communities.
- All staff to provide services that are informed by the individual and/or collective traumas of service-users, their families and communities that is healing-centred and centres the voices, needs and direction of those served and their communities.
- All staff to have a deeply rooted understanding of historical and present-day traumas, fostered and sustained by child welfare, other institutions and society as a whole and their continued impact on the lives of underserved disadvantaged communities and their members.
- The agency will work closely and collaboratively with all equity-seeking families and their communities in a manner that restores and/or maintains the identity of children and youth along with their connections to their families/circle of support and communities of belonging.
- The agency recognizes and acknowledges that we, as individuals, experience all of our identities (e.g. our faith, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, class, disabilities, etc.) through our racial identities. As a result, service provision is required to be safe and affirming of the child’s/youth’s interconnected identities.
- We recognize that a child/youth may have a previously unknown/unidentified/unstated identity(ies). This requires immediate and proactive measures by the Agency to ensure the child/youth is connected to their community(ies) and ancestral linage.
- All services are to be community-led and/or informed, collaborative and in partnership with the child/youth’s family.
- Meaningful and intentional efforts to support the child(ren)/youth remaining with and connected to their family and/or community are essential to service delivery.
- All services are to be rooted and directed by community-centred practices that are trauma-informed, healing-centred, safe and restorative.
- The development of community partnerships, protocols and collaborations with equity-seeking communities towards community-informed, affirming, safe and responsive policy and procedures, service delivery and engagement that are preventive, restorative, action-driven and reconciliatory.
- The proactive development of staff towards service provision that is community-informed, affirming, safe and responsive to align with the agency’s responsibility and commitments.
- Consultation with agency staff with regards to equity-based service delivery, program development, their wellness and matters that may impact their and/or local community well-being.
- The agency’s “Strategic Directions” and subsequent “Service Principles and Practices” are based on, and are in alignment with all legislative rights & responsibilities, commitments and Agency values.
- All services are to adhere to all protocols, guidelines and applicable federal and provincial legislations and commitments.
- The implementation of all legislative and practice requirements which includes the Federal Child Welfare Law (Formerly Bill C-92), Bill C84, the Child, Youth and Family Services Act 2017, the Child and Family Services Amendment Act, 2010.
The agency unequivocal commitment to Indigenous Justice and Anti-Colonial Practices:
Indigenous Peoples are to be recognized and approached as sovereign nations with their own distinct cultural, political and historical ties to the province of Ontario and Canada as a whole. They have a legislative right to self-governance, self-determination, and self-independence. As a result, we endeavour to engage and work with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples as distinct and independent communities. In accordance with the above, a separate strategy will guide our work alongside First Nation, Métis and Inuit Peoples.
About the ‘Adjusting the spotlight report’
In early 2020, the Youth Action Committee (YAC) discussed the different kinds of challenges that youth face with respect to their mental health, and in accessing and using mental health services across Ontario. After much discussion and investigation, the YAC felt that there were many groups of people that were facing inequitable treatment within the mental health system, and had inequitable access to such services. The YAC decided to focus the conversation around race and mental health in March of 2020. The topic of equity was initially chosen, however as this term can encompass a multitude of issues, it was decided that the topic of equity be further narrowed down to racial equity. This was primarily based on the lived experiences of YAC members, what they have seen in their communities with respect to publicly funded mental health services, and what was happening more broadly in their communities, in Ontario, and across the world with respect to systemic racism and oppression.
As we continue our journey to learn and better serve BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) youth, we will focus on the recommendations from the report and work closely with our partners to develop concrete actions to enhance our agency’s Equity Strategy and Workplan.