Montreal urged to hire visible minority firefighters, police officers, and civil servants
Published Tuesday, September 26, 2017 8:18PM EDT
More than two years after the city of Montreal began a push to hire more visible minorities, spotting a non-white individual working for the police force or the fire department remains a challenge.
About 400 of Montreal's police officers are members of a visible minority -- just 7.4 percent of the number of police officers in the city.
That's actually an increase since 2014, when just 317 police officers were non-white.
Meanwhile only 12 of the 2,400 firefighters are not white.
The Black Coalition of Quebec said that just is not enough, especially since roughly 30 percent of the island's inhabitants belong to a visible minority.
"People have to feel they are part of, that they belong to the system. They can participate in it. And equally there must be a reciprocal attitude towards them, to show that they are needed, but this isn't shown here in Quebec," said Dan Philip.
The leader of the Black Coalition said it's inevitable that police and firefighters will have difficulty relating to the community.
"If it is only white police officers dealing with a community they don't understand, then it is certain you will run into social problems," said Philip.
The number of public servants belonging to a visible minority is slightly better, or average, for Montreal as a whole: 12 percent of those who work for the city are members of a visible minority.
In a report tabled at City Hall on Monday the Commission of social development and the Public Security Commission urged city hall to change hiring practices.
"They really want the services to come back with an answer saying why aren't you able to hire minorities into your service. What's the impediment, and if there is an impediment, what are you going to do about it?" said city councillor Marvin Rotrand.
The firefighters' union says it wants to see the best candidates hired, no matter their origins, race or gender.
But the Black Coalition said Montreal and Quebec need to take active steps to hire ethnic minorities as police officers and firefighters.
Philip said this is exactly what the province's hearings on systemic racism is supposed to address.
"Systemic racism is in the system and you cannot eliminate it if you continue to do the same things you've been doing over time," said Philip.
"If there's no political will to change this situation then nothing will change.