Tue | Sep 21, 2021

Black lobby says marginalised communities left out of COVID-19 emergency funding - Group requests more than CDN$1 million

Published:Saturday | April 18, 2020 | 12:00 AMNeil Armstrong/Gleaner Writer
Agapi Gessesse, executive director of CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals.

A group of 36 Black organisations from across the Greater Toronto area is requesting CDN$1.58 million from funders and partners, to support their work among the most vulnerable community members amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The group, which includes Jamaican and Caribbean organisations like the Jamaican Canadian Association and Caribbean African Canadian Social Services, says the funding is essential to continue their work in these communities.

A report detailing the situation for black organisations from local lobby – The Black to the Future Community of practise, was released on April 8.

“This support will better equip us to respond to the community’s urgent needs and continue to provide services to both our community members and organisations, so they can survive through this remarkably challenging set of circumstances,” says Agapi Gessesse, executive director of the Centre for Young Black Professionals on behalf of the group which includes Jamaican and Caribbean organisations.

She notes that COVID-19 has amplified existing inequities impacting Black communities.


Gessesse said many members of the Black community are among the most marginalised within society, and have to face added barriers to accessing support.

Emergency funds are needed to reach out to and support isolated seniors, the homeless, those requiring mental health counselling, single-mother households, people with pre-existing medical conditions, marginalised and impoverished community members, those with disabilities, those for whom food insecurity is a health concern and caregivers of these vulnerable segments, she said.

“It is now more essential than ever to ensure that increased programmes and services exist during this time. The COVID-19 crisis has brought with it unprecedented circumstances, where many organisations are unable to respond to the growing needs within their existing frameworks and are looking for innovative and responsive ways to keep their clients engaged and feeling supported at this time of deep isolation.”

The report noted that the Government has responded rapidly to accommodate and support organisations, businesses, and citizens “as best as they are able to do given these extreme circumstances. Yet, in their announcements of emergency funding, there has been no mention of support to “marginalised communities”, and the added barriers that they experience to accessing support and services to survive during these times.”The group says its focus now is on funding for emergency response as priority followed by the recovery.

A breakdown of the $1.58 million indicates that $1,100,500 is required for emergency response, and $475,400.00 is required for organisations that are in recovery at this time.