Advocacy for change
With the onset of the pandemic we focused our policy advocacy efforts on ensuring people with precarious immigrant status or no status, and low-income refugees and immigrants were not forgotten in government healthcare and safety measures and economic support initiatives. A virtual information session we held on this topic for member agencies was filled to capacity within hours of distributing the event registration. We continued to advocate for a broad-based regularization program for people without immigration status.
Immigrants and refugees and people with precarious immigration status were over-represented among those who are working on the frontlines during the pandemic and among the hardest hit by COVID-19. We called for better and safer working conditions and protections for these workers. We also called on the provincial government to extend healthcare coverage and access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone regardless of immigration status. The province agreed and announced the relevant changes as a temporary measure – however access continued to be a challenge in many communities.
We continued to advocate for an end to racial profiling and targeting of Black, Indigenous and racialized people by police. In collaboration with community partners we held virtual public events to raise awareness and organize against anti-Black and anti-Asian racism. We will continue these efforts over the next fiscal year.
Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change
OCASI is a founding steering committee member of Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC). Together with COP-COC, we urged all orders of government to collect comprehensive disaggregated race-based data to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on all communities. We called for targeted investments and policy measures to address systemic racial inequities made worse during the pandemic.
We surveyed frontline workers and managers to assess the impact of the pandemic on OCASI member agencies, and held 9 focus groups including one in French. The survey aimed to document the rapid actions taken by member agencies to continue to serve their clients during the pandemic. We also took an assessment of how agency staff are positioned to move forward, in contrast to the first few months of the pandemic.
The survey data will be analyzed to understand how pandemic-related work protocols and practices have affected staff, and understand the ongoing concerns and difficulties of those working on the frontlines. Survey results were shared with OCASI member agencies, and presented at the Metropolis Conference held in November 2020.
OCASI has periodically conducted a sector salary survey with member agencies. We will be collaborating with sector umbrella organizations in the rest of Canada to carry out a national sector compensation survey.
“Thank you OCASI for your leadership.”