Canada’s federal police force has set aside over $15 million in taxpayer funding to collect “race-based data” and study how the profession is systemically racist towards minorities.
According to a May 5, 2023, Question on the Order Paper filed in the House of Commons by Conservative MP John Brassard concerning all federal IT projects costing taxpayers over $1 million, the $15,200,000 in funding is promised until March 31, 2027.
A summary of the project translated from French describes that the project will analyze “race-based data to address systemic racism” within the RCMP.
“This project will collect, analyze and communicate race-based data to address systemic racism and discrimination and to improve the cultural awareness of employees and the ability to provide culturally competent policing,” the government explains.
True North reached out to the RCMP for comment and clarification concerning the project.
“Race-based data collection is a priority modernization initiative for the RCMP. The collection of this information is imperative to understanding the experiences of Indigenous, Black and racialized individuals and communities during their interactions with RCMP,” wrote spokesperson Cpl. Kim Chamberland in an emailed statement.
“The information is not used to single out individual members based on their interactions, but to identify and address systemic issues that may exist between the RCMP and the communities we serve.”
According to Cpl. Chamberland, funds will be used for community consultation, training and policy development nationally.
“It involves investments in people, technology, and tools to make sure we get it right, learn and improve, and involve communities, members, stakeholders, and partners along the way.”
Data collected will encompass police interactions with the public “to identify trends and patterns of disparities and disproportionalities for Indigenous, Black and other racialized peoples.”
The RCMP did not provide a definition of “systemic racism” despite being asked to do so.
In May, the RCMP’s Management Advisory Board raised the alarm about the force’s recruiting crisis, saying that if retiring members are not replaced, the police force will not be able to meet its demands. Some have pointed to the effects of shifting attitudes towards police and accusations of racism as being behind the drop in the number of people becoming police officers.
“There is no question that recruitment is the top priority within the organization at this time, and we have been building and flying at the same time,” said RCMP chief human resources officer Nadine Huggins in May.
“I think that policing writ large is going through a reckoning. The RCMP is no different.”
In 2020, former RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki admitted that Canada’s national police force was systemically racist but when pressed to provide examples of said racism she claimed that the six-foot broad jump requirement for recruits was racist.
“Yes, there’s absolutely systemic racism. I can give you a couple of examples that we’ve found over the years,” said Lucki.
“Evidence told us that the average person can broad jump their height. Of course, how many six-foot people do we hire? And there are people in all different cultures that may not be six feet, including there’s not a lot of women that are six feet tall, that would not be able to get through that type of test.”
With files from Harrison Faulkner.