“I think this is the most important time of my life for cities,” said Richard Florida, urban studies researcher and professor of economics at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
“The COVID crisis has drawn attention to inequalities in the level of exposure of visible minorities to the virus in their communities. And now a wave of protests are saying, “We are not going to stand up for racial, social and economic injustice, police brutality. We want a better way to live. ”
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How the coronavirus could shape future urban life in Canadian cities
About 112,997 Canadians have been infected with the virus and about 8,878 have died from it.
Public officials across the country have fought the spread of epidemics.
But they also recognized the disproportionate impact of the disease on communities where people may live in closer neighborhoods, work in more vulnerable jobs, have less access to health care and often have poorer basic health.
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Data from around the world has underscored the scale of the challenge, prompting public health agencies and government data agencies like Statistics Canada to respond to requests to begin collecting data based on race.
The aim is to better understand and tackle inequalities in how the coronavirus pandemic, and all of its cascading impacts, affect vulnerable communities.
Coronavirus: the impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable in our society
In Toronto, for example, case data shows black neighborhoods are hit hardest in terms of the number of coronavirus cases. This reflects similar data showing a harder impact on communities in cities like New York and Montreal with larger concentrations of black and Hispanic Americans, or more immigrants, refugees, and low-income Canadians, respectively.
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Florida said society’s recognition of the disproportionate barriers and discrimination racialized communities face in urban areas makes it a time when leaders must seize the opportunity to make big, bold changes.
“This movement is a movement, not just that of visible minorities and frontline workers. It is a movement of knowledge workers, professional workers, white Canadians and multicultural Canadians. These are multicultural, multi-class people who stand up and say, ‘We want better cities,’ ”he said.
“So the opportunity we have now is to make our cities better, to rebuild them in ways that are more inclusive, that create more opportunity and more justice for all Canadians.
READ MORE: Lack of race-based COVID-19 data in Canada is hurting black Canadians: experts
Making these kinds of changes will require significant cooperation and coordination between officials at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, said Alfred Bergusson, member of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Youth Advisory Council.
Bergusson told Nasser he didn’t believe the federal government was doing enough to fight racism in Canada despite the Prime Minister’s promises to do more.
“We were vocal. I’m just not sure this is a priority for our current government, ”he said. “I guess time will tell and so we hope that progress is made on this front.”
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He urged community leaders to come up with clear and specific demands for their representatives in order to be able to push for more meaningful and concrete change.
“I think we, as citizens, have to demand the changes. We can walk and we can call for change, but nothing will happen if we don’t have specific calls to action., » he said.
“We really need the public and others across Canada to lobby our government.«
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