Toronto city council has voted unanimously to formally condemn anti-Asian racism and has directed staff to report back on progress putting in place an action plan to address the issue.
The motion was brought forward by Coun. Cynthia Lai and picks up on a March roundtable convened by Mayor John Tory in response to growing acts of anti-Asian hate.
During the meeting Thursday evening, Lai recounted a recent incident of a man who is Asian in her ward who was knocked down while stopping to buy takeout food and had to be taken to the hospital. She also referenced recent graffiti at a Chinese cultural centre.
Lai said she wants staff and task force to report back and work on how best to proactively counter anti-Asian racism.
“I think it’s about time the City is doing something about it,” she said.
Tory said while the City of Toronto has conducted various awareness campaigns, he said more attention needs to be focused on combatting anti-Asian racism.
He said he and others on council have received emails from residents who have experienced racism while riding the subway, adding many times people feel too intimidated to respond.
“We have to fight back on their behalf and we have to say we’re not going to accept this,” Tory said.
According to an update from Lai’s office, Toronto police have reported anti-Asian hate crimes increased 51 per cent in 2020 from 2019 and are up by approximately 47 per cent so far in 2021.
An update on the action plan is due to come back to city council sometime by the end of June.