November 24, 2020

The Kitchener City Council voted to hire a team of five full-time staff to address social issues in the city. The team will cost around $500,000 and will deal with racism, inequity, poverty and homelessness.

The Council wants the staff to employ Black, Indigenous, and people of colour, and they made sure the wording of the decision reflects that.

“The intention is that for the top three roles of the five persons staff team, that the job postings specifically call on members Black, Indigenous and persons of colour to apply,” Coun. Sarah Marsh said.

According to Michael May Deputy Chief Administrative Officer at City of Kitchener, people of colour are underrepresented among city staff.

“Just look at our workforce census that said only nine per cent of our staff identified as a person of colour, and yet in the community 22 per cent of our residents are persons of colour. Clearly there are systemic barriers in our hiring process,” May said.

The only Councilor who voted against was John Gazzola.

“This is not within our mandate. It’s too big a project for an Ontario community to take on for the whole world. I haven’t heard that from my constituents,” Gazzola said.

According to Lori Campbell, Indigenous activist and director of Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, Kitchener’s decision is unique in Canada.

“This is an opportunity for Kitchener to become a model. I don’t know of any other city where you’ll find quite that model with actual resource allocation attached to it,” Campbell said.

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