Eliminating unfair discrimination in housing in Canada is an essential, strategic requirement for Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) to achieve our aspiration that “by 2030, everyone in Canada has a home that they can afford and that meets their needs.” To that end, we are excited to announce that we are partnering with Monumental to expose racism and promote equity and fairness at CMHC. We believe that change must be institutionalized, and we are taking steps to do so.
We are starting on a path to ensure that everyone feels they belong in working at and dealing with CMHC. Our participation in the Black North Initiative Pledge and eight commitments on anti-racism will feed into defined streams of work that will apply an equity lens across our Corporate Plan and housing affordability strategy. In doing so, we will adhere to five guiding principles of equity:
- “A movement not a moment” — We are committed to sustaining change. We will prioritize actions that sustain an open dialogue and create lasting change.
- “Nothing for us without us” — A Task Force will be established that will have a balanced representation of people with BIPOC1 lived expertise. The terms for change will be co-defined by racialized employees.
- “Convert presence into power” — We are committed to giving racialized employees greater influence over decision-making.
- “Call things by their true names” — A reconciliatory dialogue requires straight talk. We will aim for accurate and clear diagnoses of issues so they can be appropriately addressed.
- “Our money where our mouth is” — We will allocate resources to understanding where we are, how we got here, and the future organization we want to become.
Our antiracism and equity work will be centred around a Task Force, reporting to our Executive Committee and CEO. The Task Force will offer a vision for an equitable CMHC and the scope of work involved. Subject to those discussions, we currently foresee six initial streams of work: people, policy, programs, data, dialogue and community.
We believe you get what you measure and that diversity targets are essential to achieving inclusion. We are committing to the following targets for the populations with the largest deficiencies. Our goal is to achieve these targets by 2025, as well as to close half of the existing gaps within two years:
Additionally, while we do not choose our CEO or Board of Directors, we will seek to influence diversity among our Board’s membership.
These targets are necessary and will change our behaviour and our perspectives. In addition, we have already done or will do the following this year:
- Established two employee resource groups — the Network of Black Leaders (NoBLe) and the Indigenous Employee Circle (IEC) — to ensure that Black and Indigenous people with lived expertise influence our programs. NoBLe, IEC and Monumental will aid in the selection of Task Force members.
- Employees will be given anti-racism training, starting with our Executive and Management Committees.
- Offer supplemental, tailored leadership training , (including re- and up-skilling) and mentorship for BIPOC people leaders to help them overcome the barriers they face.
- Provide accommodations regarding our Official Languages requirements for BIPOC candidates.
- Supplement our diversity and inclusion capabilities by hiring a race-based data expert and a housing policy expert lead, acquiring training support and assigning a co-ordinator to support the Task Force.
- Remove systemic barriers and bias in our recruitment processes.
We will close the data gap that prevents us from understanding the impact of race on housing conditions in Canada. This is an essential evidence base for our decisions. We are already expanding our work to secure reliable data on the housing-related impacts of racism, discrimination and other systemic barriers on BIPOC and other marginalized communities in Canada
Our clients — policies and programs
We have ignored clear evidence of racism in rental and eviction practices in Canada, as well as the tragedies of forced resettlement, residential schools, and the many murdered and missing Indigenous women. Our plans to promote equity in our work currently include:
- We have appointed a Vice-President responsible for our reconciliation with Indigenous people.
- We will institutionalize Indigenous land recognition and seek to devolve our Indigenous housing activities to Indigenous-led housing authorities.
- The Task Force and Monumental will review our policies, programs and practices with the help of the NoBLe and IEC.
- We will adopt the new anti-racism tool being developed by the Anti-Racism Secretariat to supplement GBA+ reviews.
- We will review our contracts and commercial business practices to influence landlords to eliminate racism.
- We will develop new policies to provide housing assistance for Black, Indigenous, racialized and marginalized Canadians, and help BIPOC-led housing providers.
We have a responsibility as a national organization to influence Canadian society. We acknowledge that we failed to prevent the forced resettlement of Black people from Hogan’s Alley in Vancouver and Africville in Halifax. We will atone for these past acts of racism and promote equity in our communities. We are also pursuing ways we can provide further help to Toronto’s Regent Park and Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats communities.
We will report on our anti-racism and equity work through our Annual Report and Corporate Plan.
1 We are using the term “BIPOC” generally to include racialized persons: Black, Indigenous, Latino, Arab, Asian, and otherwise “people of colour.” We no longer use the term “visible minority” because, while visibility is a factor, non-visible signals may also cause discrimination. Where the context requires, we also mean marginalized groups, such as people with disabilities and LGBTQ2+ persons.
2 Minimums are based on population representation, a more challenging target since 90% of our positions require university education, yet racist barriers reduce the available candidates among some minority groups. In small population samples, precision must allow rounding.
3 Leadership comprises all people leaders and subject matter experts from the Director-equivalent level and above.