TTC releases first phase of new race-based data collection strategy

Today, the TTC released results from the first phase of a Racial Equity Impact Assessment that will be critical as the organization develops new and improved policies for the collection and use of race-based data.

The report to the TTC Board presents the findings of Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Dr. Scot Wortley. The researchers conducted a months-long review into the collection of raced-based data by Transit Special Constables and Fare Inspectors between 2008 and 2018 – when the practice was paused pending this assessment. They found that during this time, both Black and Indigenous people were overrepresented in TTC enforcement incidents, and in both TTC charges and cautions.

“All transit riders deserve to be treated with dignity and respect on the TTC system. People of all races and backgrounds rely on the TTC as a critical lifeline to travel to and from work and for other essential activities, such as grocery shopping and medical appointments,” said TTC Chair Jaye Robinson. “Ensuring that all Torontonians feel safe and welcome on our transit system is a key priority for the TTC Board and Executive Team. This Assessment forms an important part of the 10-point Action Plan for Diversity and Inclusion that was presented to the Board in December and provides a foundation for future policy improvements.”

Over the past two years, the TTC has begun a significant organizational culture shift with respect to prioritizing diversity and inclusion and has already started moving forward on recommendations from this phase of the Assessment, including:

- Reassigning the Special Constable Service and Revenue Protection Departments to report to the Chief Customer and Strategy Officer, ensuring their activities are more focused on customer service.
- Continuing to work on culture change within the Fare Inspectors Department and the Special Constable Service Department through the Culture Change Program, which includes Structuring for Success, Rewriting Policies and Procedures, Implementing Supporting Technologies as well as Implementing Training and Monitoring Systems.
- Completing an initial review of the policies concerning the Use of Discretion and the Collection of Disaggregated Race-Based Data, including an initial review by Arleen Huggins. The TTC is currently in the process of a comprehensive stakeholder consultation process to move this recommendation forward.

“I want to thank Drs. Owusu-Bempah and Wortley for their in-depth and honest assessment of how the TTC was collecting race-based data,” said TTC CEO Rick Leary. “We know that there have been instances where people have not felt always safe or comfortable riding on the TTC – and that is simply not okay. The doctors’ insights are essential in helping us recognize where and how our past practices fell short and will help us make improvements across the TTC. Diversity and inclusion are areas where the TTC has made improvements, but ultimately we can and must do better.”

Part of the TTC’s commitment to change includes the creation of a Chief Diversity and Culture Officer role to align critical functions within the Human Rights and Investigations, Diversity, Fare Inspection and Special Constable Complaints, and Talent Management groups.

On April 1, the TTC welcomed Keisha Campbell, the former Head of Diversity and Inclusion at TD Bank, to the role.

“I’m excited to join the TTC at a time of tremendous change and growth,” said Campbell. “The Racial Equity Impact Assessment and the 10-point Plan are going to be anchors for our work going forward as we continue to modernize and make the TTC a public service that all Torontonians can be proud of.”

Dr. Owusu-Bempah and Dr. Wortley are currently engaged in the next phase of the Assessment, which includes extensive consultation with racialized communities, TTC employees, as well as further reviews of TTC practices and a review of how other agencies approach issues related to race and racism. A final report is expected early next year and will include recommendations to address race-based data collection, strategies to eliminate bias from TTC enforcement activities and policies to improve public perception of internal and external race-relations at the TTC.

The assessment report will be before the TTC Board for discussion at its meeting on April 14.

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