TTC action on anti-Black racism
Good afternoon everyone,
The events of the past few weeks have been disturbing – in fact, they’ve been heartbreaking to witness. The senseless acts of violence and ongoing discrimination against members of the Black community are a tragedy on a basic human level.
George Floyd’s death is one of the most recent instances in a long history of terrible tragedies and while this particular incident took place in the United States, we need to recognize and address the fact that anti-Black racism exists here in Canada, and yes, here at the TTC.
As we all know, change is needed. Anti-Black racism deeply harms our Black employees, customers and communities, and it affects us all. I think it is important that you know what we are doing to make change happen at the TTC.
While we have a long way to go, the TTC has committed to a system-wide Anti-Racism Strategy and has adopted the City of Toronto’s Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism, and work is underway on both strategies including:
- In partnership with the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit, the TTC has begun the roll out of “Addressing Anti-Black Racism” training to all employees, beginning with TTC Executives, senior leadership groups as well as TTC Fare Inspectors and Special Constables;
- The TTC held its first ever Diversity Speaker Series for employees entitled, What is Anti-Black Racism?;
- Managers and Supervisors have attended awareness sessions focused on confronting anti-Black racism; and
- The TTC has also joined the Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit’s City Leads Circle, which brings together and encourages collaboration between City Divisions, Agencies, Boards and Commissions that have actions identified in the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.
In addition, the TTC has engaged Arleen Huggins who is a partner at Koskie Minsky LLP and head of the firm’s Employment Law Group where she specializes in employment law and human rights. Arleen will assist in advancing our work to combat anti-Black racism and promote greater diversity and inclusion at the TTC. We need our employees and our customers to know we are serious about making change. I see her work as a unique opportunity to build on, and validate, the work we are doing and to identify new or more direct ways to effect change including creating a report card to ensure we are doing what we say.
As well, earlier this year TTC employees submitted an application to start the first international chapter of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO). COMTO is an organization that develops and advocates for its members by helping to foster barrier-free access to career advancement opportunities within the transportation industry for all people of racialized and marginalized groups, so they may have long, productive careers in which their voices are welcomed, valued and respected. This grassroots initiative is the kind of change that we need and support.
I recognize that these recent events may be weighing heavily on you, our employees, as well as our communities, and I want to ensure we are providing you with ongoing support during this very difficult time. Your safety and wellbeing are my top priority. This extends to the safety and wellbeing of your family. If you need any support or resources, you are encouraged to contact the confidential Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP).
EFAP’s professional consultants are available to employees to provide guidance, resources and support. The immediate and confidential EFAP services are accessible 24/7/365 by calling 1-800-572-0039 or visiting www.workhealthlife.com of the MyEAP app. The website features additional information and tips on coping with trauma. Also, members of the Traumatic Event Support Team are available to support you and your family.
Morneau Shepell has also opened up a Crisis Support Line for anyone in the community in need of emotional support in relation to these events. The Crisis Support Line is open 24/7 and can be reached at 1-866-885-6540. By calling, individuals will receive professional emotional support and/or referral to community resources. This resource is available to anyone and everyone.
In addition to this, I will be setting up forums for your voices to be heard; for you to communicate and speak with us about your thoughts and feelings, about your experience at the TTC, or what it is like living with racism or lack of inclusion. You will hear more about this in the coming days.
Please stay safe and reach out if you need anything.
Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer