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Statement in Support of Senator Jaffer's Amendment to Bill C-7

Hon. Rosemary Moodie

Thank you, Your Honour. I stand today to strongly support Senator Jaffer’s amendment to Bill C-7. I want to begin by thanking Senator Jaffer for her strong advocacy on issues facing racialized Canadians. Notably, she has championed the issue of race-based data throughout this debate and on this bill and has helped move this conversation forward.

I welcome this amendment because it is a sensible response to the request of Black Canadians. You will recall that in June of last year, the Parliamentary Black Caucus published a statement in which the collection and appropriate use of disaggregated data was the first request made to the government. This statement was endorsed by a number of parliamentarians, and many of you, colleagues, endorsed and supported this document on the floor of the Senate.

I also participated in the Parliamentary Black Caucus’ budget consultation last December. During these meetings, we heard from dozens of individuals and organizations representing Black Canadians that data collection is a central and key concern.

I want to take a moment and be very clear about why data collection is important. We know that racialized Canadians suffer severe adverse outcomes due to systemic racism. We know this based on evidence that is available, but also due to the litany of anecdotal evidence available. We do not know how severe these negative outcomes really are, nor do we know how race intersects with many other factors.

We need reliable and sound data to allow governments and parliamentarians to understand the issues and design policies that are well informed. Without this information, government policies will always be insufficient and poorly targeted. We are essentially operating blind. I also believe that data is power and can be used to guide and to generate pressure.

As Dr. Kathy Hogarth from Waterloo University stated in an interview with Global News last spring:

Without data, it’s all speculation, and as long as it remains in speculation, we can dismiss it. What we need is a very rigorous way of collecting our data that looks at inequalities. I guarantee you there are inequalities; we are not all impacted in the same way.

Colleagues, I think we would have appreciated having more data during this debate on Bill C-7. In fact, I know this because many of you have raised this yourselves throughout these debates. I think we would have appreciated being better informed about the way racialized Canadians have been impacted since Bill C-14 came into force.

Further, it is very likely that we will have to debate or study some aspects of medical assistance in dying once more in the coming years. This amendment would help us avoid what many of us have lamented by providing us with further data so our debates and proposals can be measured and effective.

Lastly, this amendment respects the rights of individuals to share their data, and would allow all of those who would like to keep their data to themselves to do so.

In too many aspects of our policy making we are data blind. We need to continue to unlock access to reliable and sound data in every system. This is a huge issue, and though we need major changes, I welcome small but meaningful steps forward such as this one.

This is what many communities have been asking for, especially the Black community. This is how to make good policy — by having good data. This is progress. I hope you will join in voting for this important amendment. Thank you.