Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, March 15, 2019 — To promote policy change and effective legal strategies to fight systemic discrimination in public and private services, CRARR will co-host tomorrow, a Forum entitled, “Systemic Discrimination or Bad Service?”

The day-long event will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2019, at Concordia University, 1455 De Maisonneuve West, 5th floor, from 9am to 4:30 pm.

The Forum is organized to counter the trends in Quebec where systemic discrimination against racialized people and disabled people is often treated as merely “bad service.” For instance, in 2017, the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission dismissed complaints filed by disabled public transit riders against the Montreal Transit Authority (STM), by describing the problem as a “service quality“ issue instead of a service accessibility issue (at the same time, the Superior Court certified a class action against the STM for systemic discrimination against disabled riders). Recently, the Commission dismissed CRARR’s complaints of racially biased police action and discrimination against autistic children in health services, framing the issues as “poor service”.

The Forum will address systemic discrimination in education, health and social services, public and private security services, and transport and commercial services based on race, disability, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics.

David Lepofsky, nationally recognized disability rights lawyer and Chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, will be the keynote speaker. He will speak at 9:30 am on his experiences and strategies to sue public and business institutions for discrimination.

Highlights of the day include:

10:00 am – 12:00 pm: Panel discussion on barriers of systemic discrimination against racialized, disabled and other groups. The discussion will feature Katharine Cukier, parent and advocate of autistic children’s rights (on barriers in the present health and social services systems); Colleen Sheppard, Law Professor, McGill University (on the state of the law on systemic discrimination); Aymar Missakila, lawyer at CRARR (on his litigation against systemic racism and ableism in Quebec); and Zoua Vang, Sociology Professor, McGill University (on systemic barriers for immigrants and refugees in accessing health and social services). Adelle Blackett, Law Professor, McGill University, will moderate this panel.

1:15 pm – 3:45 pm: Various workshops: Key issues to be discussed include:

• On Education: systemic discrimination against disabled students in law studies at McGill; how Black students are subject to systemic racism in education;

• On Health and Social Services: barriers faced by children with autism and other disabilities, LGBTQ people and people living with HIV/AIDS; barriers to equal access for immigrants and refugees;

• On Security Services: barriers for women who are victims of violence and Black victims of racism; barriers for victims of racial profiling within the Quebec Police Ethics Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission’s services;

• On Transport and Commercial Services: issues of racial profiling in commercial and public transport services, including the No-Fly list; and growing discrimination against LGBTQ people in commercial services.

The Forum’s partners include the Centre for Human Rights & Legal Pluralism and the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University, the CSU Legal Information Clinic, and law student associations at McGill University such as the Indigenous Law Association (ILADA), the Black Law Students’ Association of McGill (BLSAM), Contours (Women and the Law) and Criminal Law McGill.