Message from the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions – Black History Month 2022

Every February, Canada marks Black History Month and recognizes both the achievements and the past struggles and ongoing challenges of Black Canadians and their communities.
In the recognition that Canada’s cultural diversity is our country’s greatest strength, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Black Canadians who helped build our nation and make Canada the compassionate, prosperous, and multicultural society it is today. From early navigators to artists, lawyers, and politicians, Black Canadians have, and continue to make our country a better place to live for everyone.
Despite their deep and enduring contributions, Canada’s Black communities continue to deal with discrimination, prejudice and inequities on a daily basis. Systemic racism is a lived reality that did not take a pause during the pandemic. Many Black communities disproportionally continue to experience inequities and disparities in health, education and economic outcomes that are being further exacerbated by COVID-19.
A large percentage of Canada’s essential workers, including in the healthcare industry, are Black or racialized women and LGBTQ2S individuals. Many of these workers have been especially vulnerable to precarious work and increased health insecurity.
Difficult and negative experiences have serious implications for mental health, so it is hardly surprising that many Black Canadians are now reporting an increase in mental health illness such as anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Our government recognizes the significant and unique challenges faced by Black Canadians, and is taking steps to address some of these challenges through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health for Black Canadians Fund. By collaborating with community-based organizations, researchers and others in Black communities, we are supporting the development of culturally focused programs and interventions that address mental health and its determinants. We will continue to do so throughout this crisis, and as we build back better, leaving no one behind.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat to our health, however, systemic racism is presents a persistent danger to our society that we must eradicate. This month, I encourage all Canadians to step up, speak up and stand up against prejudice, discrimination and racism.
As we reflect on Black History Month in 2022, let us acknowledge the hard work of the leaders and activists in Canada’s Black communities who have courageously fought for justice and change. We draw inspiration from their advocacy, strength, and resilience. Together, we can create a fairer and more inclusive Canada for everyone.
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.