‘The dialogue that has started recently is critical for social change as well as the wellbeing of individuals and organizations’
For the fifth month in a row, Canadians’ mental health remains low amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Black Canadians appear to be having a worse time than their White counterparts, according to a report from Morneau Shepell.
The company’s Mental Health Index stood at -10 for the month of July, down from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75. Against the same benchmark, depression (-12.4), anxiety (-12.3), optimism (-11.4), work productivity (-11.11) and isolation (-11) have all turned for the worse among Canadians.
"July marks the fifth month since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and Canadians began experiencing a collective mental health crisis," says Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO of Morneau Shepell. "While many businesses, amenities and public spaces have reopened and a slight sense of normalcy has started to emerge across the country, our Mental Health Index shows that improving mental wellbeing takes time. In addition to restarting the Canadian economy, it's critical that organizations and governments continue to be vigilant in providing mental health support."
Those who identified as Black showed a 1.8-point decrease in their score between May and June, and a 0.9-point increase in July. Those who identified as White showed a 1.2-point increase between May and June and a 1.8-point increase in July.
Nearly 70 per cent of the respondents acknowledge that racism is a problem in Canada, and 20 per cent believe it is a problem in their workplace, found the survey of 3,000 respondents between June 22 and 30, 2020.
Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of those who identified as Black agree or strongly agree that racism is a problem in their workforce, compared with 14 per cent of those who identified as White.
Late in June, the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) called on police to conduct a full investigation of “racist hate crimes” after several nooses were discovered in construction sites in the province.
Looking forward, 40 per cent of all respondents feel that systemic racism is likely to decrease in Canada as a result of heightened anti-Black racism awareness, while 33 per cent are unsure and 27 per cent feel it is unlikely.
"Systemic racism is not a new issue in Canada nor elsewhere, yet many Canadians are just now opening their eyes to the issue for the first time," says Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation at Morneau Shepell. "The dialogue that has started recently is critical for social change as well as the wellbeing of individuals and organizations. The experience of racism is traumatic and the ability to safely speak about it and problem solve is critical, and has been supported by many organizations. The benefit of that is starting and needs to continue."
Despite years of talk about increasing diversity at Toronto law firms, not much has happened and it’s time for a change, says a Black partner at a Toronto law firm.