The Province of BC is currently working with community stakeholders in order to develop a racist incident hotline in response to a recent spike in racist activities across the province.
The government says the hotline is intended to be “a multilingual service, not delivered by police,” for British Columbians to report racist incidents, while also receiving support and referrals.
On the other hand, the new hotline is not intended to replace emergency response services in situations where one’s safety is in danger and 9-1-1 should be called.
“Government has a moral and ethical responsibility to tackle discrimination in all its forms,” said Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “That’s why we’re taking action to tackle racism. We’ve done a lot already, like recently quadrupling funding for community-based anti-racism projects. But we know there’s more to do, and a hotline will support British Columbians if they witness or are the victim of a racist incident.”
According to the Province, anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver have increased by over 700 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year.
It is alarming data like this that has led the government to develop a racist incident hotline.
The hotline will also collect data from calls to be used to support future anti-racism initiatives, including legislation that will pave the way for race-based data collection.
“By identifying areas of increased racist incidents through the hotline, the government can use the data to inform future actions to combat racism,” reads a statement from the Province.
The government says it is currently consulting Indigenous partners and other racialized groups as part of the development process and broader public engagement is planned for this summer.
“Although there are some challenges in direct comparison, when comparing our province with communities across North America on a per-capita basis, there can be no doubt we are a major hot spot for anti-Asian racism. This is unacceptable and more action is needed,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Even more concerning is that some people may be reluctant to report incidents through existing avenues like calling the police, which may mean we have an under-reporting of the scope of the problem. This hotline will lower the barrier for reporting incidents, helping us better direct further action and be more rapid in our responses.”
The government adds that the consultations with community stakeholders will inform the racist incident hotline to help ensure it meets the needs of Indigenous, Black and other racialized and faith communities.