FREDERICTON (GNB) – A commissioner tasked with engaging all stakeholders to develop an understanding of the nature and impact of systemic racism in the province will be appointed by the provincial government.

“We acknowledge that systemic racism exists here in New Brunswick and we want to better understand people’s experiences, its impact and what we can do about it,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn, who is also minister responsible for immigration. “The appointment of an independent commissioner will result in timely recommendations, which will allow us to take prudent action to address this problem. We expect a report from this process within 12 months that will provide the government with specific actions to build a foundation for meaningful change.”

To ensure the independence of the process, the Executive Council Office will lead the recruitment of the commissioner. An invitation for applications will be posted publicly and applicants will be screened against the required competencies. The Executive Council Office will then prepare a submission to cabinet for the appointment of the commissioner.

The commissioner will be tasked with the responsibility of carrying out this work. The commissioner position will be full time for the duration of the process and there will be staff for policy and project management support. Once in place, the commissioner will determine the process for engaging others as required. It is expected a commissioner will be identified and in place in the next three months.

“Ensuring New Brunswick is a place where everyone feels welcome and accepted is critical to our social and economic growth,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “We have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of addressing systemic racism that has been ingrained over many generations and within our institutions. But we are confident that this work is an important step in the right direction.”

The commissioner will focus on the following objectives:

  • Conducting a public consultation on the nature and impact of systemic racism on racialized, immigrant and Indigenous populations in New Brunswick.
  • Thorough documentation of experiences in an effort to gather qualitative and quantitative data – performed through a number of means including, but not limited to, a review of previous recommendations, establishing a dedicated website, holding virtual meetings, receiving presentations and written submissions by email, mail or on the website, in-person meetings with the commissioner by invitation and on request, virtual consultation sessions with foreign nationals, employers and other groups as necessary.

The commissioner will produce a final report by March 31, 2022 with recommendations for the government on the development of a provincial strategy and an action plan to address sector concerns such as: barriers to opportunity; equitable access to programs and services; and systemic racism in health care, education, social development, housing, employment and criminal justice. The commissioner may also identify and address other sectors that impact these designated groups. The final report will be a public document.

The provincial government will fund the costs related to establishing a commissioner and their work, estimated at $500,000.