Question Period: Bill C-22—Impact on Black and Indigenous Canadians

By: The Hon. Wanda Thomas Bernard

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Ottawa River, Gatineau and the Library of the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, my question is also for the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Gold, following the introduction of Bill C-22, it took several weeks and repeated requests before the government was able to share with senators any data in support of its statements that Bill C-22 will reduce mass incarceration of Black and Indigenous peoples. The sparse data available so far does not clarify this. Worse yet, it reveals that no data disaggregated by race and gender or by sentence exists to confirm the government’s claim that Bill C-22 will address — much less redress — the disproportionate criminalization and imprisonment of Indigenous peoples as well as those of African descent. The available data does not reveal how many people we can concretely expect this bill to benefit.

Senator Gold, on what basis did the government make its claims with respect to Bill C-22?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you, senator, for your question and for giving me the opportunity to make inquiries with the government. I have not yet received the specific data and response that you requested, but I can assure this chamber that the government remains committed to obtaining and using more disaggregated data so that its decisions are based upon the evidence available. For example, in 2019, the government launched the new Statistics Canada Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics. The centre has been working closely with departments such as Women and Gender Equality and Canadian Heritage to support evidence-based research and policy development by ensuring greater availability of race- and gender-based data.

Senator Bernard: Senator Gold, do you have any idea as to when we can expect to receive this data?

Senator Gold: I will certainly make inquiries, colleague, and report back to this chamber when I have an answer.

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