Ontario Acting to Combat Anti-Asian Racism in Schools

Province to Partner with Community Organizations to Fight Discrimination and Promote Inclusivity

The Ontario government is taking action to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination by providing $340,000 to support equity programs and initiatives with community partners. The initiatives will help ensure students learn in more inclusive classrooms and are supported by their educators and communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a concerning rise in instances of discrimination and hate crimes directed towards Canadians of Asian descent. Between March 2020 and February 2021, a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 1,150 cases of racist attacks from across Canada. Most of these incidents, 40 per cent and 44 per cent of all cases of racist attacks and incidents, were reported from Ontario and British Columbia respectively. In many instances, these racially motivated attacks have targeted the vulnerable, including children and the elderly. The partnership and support announced by the Ontario government is part of an ongoing effort to protect children and create safe learning environments.

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our schools and our government is acting to protect students and promote inclusivity for all children,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes have sharply and disturbingly risen against Asian-Canadians. In our schools, we celebrate diversity and champion inclusion, as no child deserves to feel unsafe in their schools and in this country.”

Support is being provided as part of the Safe Return to Class fund, and Ontario is directing $140,000 to Hong Fook Mental Health Association for mental health supports for Asian students, families and teachers. That includes offering counselling and workshops in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

As part of the Safe Restart agreement, Ontario has partnered with community groups to combat anti-Asian racism, support advocacy for educational issues and concerns related to Asian Canadians in the education system and address pandemic-induced issues and risks for East Asian Ontario families. This includes providing:

  • $50,000 to the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice to develop online resources and tools to help Chinese Canadian households engage their children, from Grades 3 to 5, in discussions about racism.
  • $10,000 to the Asian Canadian Educators Network (ACENET) to develop a series of professional learning and workshops about anti-Asian racism for schools and boards in Ontario.
  • $140,000 to Community Family Services of Ontario to deliver resources and supports relevant to pandemic-induced issues and risks faced by newcomers and East Asian Ontario families.

“To honour the proud contributions, storied history, and sacrifice Canadians of Asian heritage have made to building this country, our government is partnering and investing to directly counter anti-Asian racism in our schools and communities,” added Minister Lecce. “We are acting to protect students, combat anti-Asian racism, and ensure that all children are celebrated.”

In all, as part of the Safe Return to Class Fund, the Ontario government is directing $6.4 million toward equity-related projects, including funding to community organizations to address anti-Asian hate, antisemitism, and Islamophobia; support for newcomer parents and families to enhance access to school and community resources, and culturally appropriate mental health supports for youth, families and teachers.

Quick Facts

  • May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. This year’s theme is ‘Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve’.
  • For the upcoming school year, Ontario’s Priorities and Partnership Funding (PPF) will include more than $288 million fund for approximately 150 initiatives that include a focus on strengthening math skills, access to mental health supports, anti-racism and support for children with disabilities.
  • On June 4, 2020, the government launched the Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity, a new advisory group which provides advice on how young people can overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success.
  • In accordance with the Anti-Racism Act and Anti-Racism Data Standards, all school boards in Ontario will be required to collect race-based data by January 1, 2023.
  • Effective November 5, 2020, Ontario Regulation 437/97 (Professional Misconduct) under the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 (OCTA) and Ontario Regulation 223/08 (Professional Misconduct) under the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 (ECEA) were amended to explicitly set out remarks and behaviours that expose persons to hatred based on a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Code as acts of professional misconduct.
  • The Ontario government is committed to supporting teacher hiring practices that are fair, consistent, and transparent to ensure a strong and equitable workforce with the knowledge, skills and attributes to meet the high standards of Ontario’s publicly funded education system.
  • On October 29, 2020, O. Reg. 274/12 Hiring Practices was revoked and has been replaced with Policy/Program Memorandum No. 165:Teacher Hiring Practices (PPM No.165). School boards are now able to hire based on merit, diversity and the unique needs of the school, while providing protocols to avoid concerns of nepotism.


“Now is the time to change the ugly truth about Anti-Asian racism. Now is the time to stand up in strength and solidarity to fight against the rising tide of hate. We have the opportunity to transform racial hatred into a beautiful celebration of differences. The Ontario government is committed in building a more inclusive Ontario, and we will continue to work together to eliminate hate, racism and discrimination in all its forms.”

– Vincent Ke
MPP for Don Valley North

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in discrimination and hate crimes towards Canadians of East and Southeast Asian descent. Change begins in our schools and communities. Today’s announcement of $340,000 to support equity programs and initiatives with community partners demonstrates our government’s commitment to support our students and combat anti-Asian racism in communities across Ontario.”

– Billy Pang
MPP for Markham-Unionville

“The anti-Asian racism that we have been seeing in Ontario over the last year is not representative of our communities or our province. Ontarians are much better than that. The initiatives announced today will have a generational impact by ensuring that children understand and value the dignity of every human being and by making sure that every child feels safe at school.”

– Daisy Wai
MPP for Richmond Hill

“Ontario’s diverse communities are a source of strength for our province. Through these community partnerships, we are combating hate crimes and educating all students on the richness of Ontario’s cultural mosaic.”

– Raymond Cho
MPP for Scarborough North

“All students deserve to learn and grow in a safe and nurturing environment that instills self-confidence and acceptance. That is why I’m proud of our government’s initiatives to address this issue by providing targeted support to our communities and schools, making Ontario a more inclusive and equal place to live.”

– Stan Cho
MPP for Willowdale

“Too many Asian youth are struggling to access mental health and addictions care – many have been impacted heavily by the current pandemic. Struggling with mental health and ongoing anti-Asian hate, these youth need our support. We are pleased to partner with the Ontario government to provide new resources that will embed equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism as fundamental principles in the delivery of mental health care and services for the student population. Hong Fook will use this new funding to expand our intensive outreach and offer timely counselling services to these youth and their parents to reduce wait times and support safe return to class this fall.”

– Bonnie Wong
Executive Director, Hong Fook Mental Health Association

“We learned from Canadian parents and children that racism is a topic too painful and too difficult to discuss at home. With the funding support from Ministry of Education, CCNC-SJ would be able to support these conversations in a sensitive, engaging, and age appropriate manner.”

– Dr. Joseph Wong
Director, Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice

“Newcomer families and international students suffered a hard hit in the pandemic due to a lack of system knowledge and social support, resulting in anxiety, isolation, and abuse. Resources for ethnically oriented services in the community will help to ensure their safety and psychosocial well-being. We are glad to be working in partnership with the Ontario government in supporting Asian-Canadians and creating more inclusive school communities.”

– Anna V. Wong
Executive Director, Community Family Services of Ontario

“Asian Canadian Educators Network works with educators, students and communities to raise awareness of and to address anti-Asian racism. We build teacher capacity through professional learning, equip students with strategies to combat anti-Asian racism, support parent communities with advocacy skills and conduct research to enrich literature on Asian Canadian diasporas. With support from the government of Ontario, we’ll be able to further support teachers and students in addressing racism.”

– Dr. Kien Luu
President, ACENet