The City of Vancouver is defined by its natural surroundings, strong economy and diverse population. They envision a city where those who are marginalized most are neither excluded from care, nor an opportunity for flourishing. Rather, they are systemically prioritized for it.
The City of Vancouver recognizes equity as both a process (the replacement of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes or fail to eliminate them) and an outcome (the condition that would be achieved if one’s identity no longer predicted how one fares).
While the City had started to develop a poverty reduction plan in 2017, the process was put on pause as they realized they hadn’t been taking an anti-racist and equity-centred approach.
Getting their house in order
Their Poverty Reduction Advisory Committee, which included experts with lived/living experience, highlighted that, in order to effectively respond to inequity, the City would need to first ‘get their house in order.’ This included naming and addressing systemic inequities that benefit and favour some groups and often disproportionately impact cultural communities; transform structures, policies and processes to balance power and influence; and amplify and affirm the dignity and rights of all people by centering diverse voices.
As they become more intentional about equity work, the City reflected on a number of questions, which included the following:
- How do decision-making, policies, and investments disproportionately benefit some groups over others?
- How does the City as an employer reflects the population that it serves?
- How can the City form better relationships with equity-denied groups
- What is the role of the City as a leader, employer, policymaker, regulator, grantor and representative of its residents?
Development of the City’s 2021 Equity Framework was a collaborative process that involved internal groups across City departments and external partners. Relationship-centred and responsive, it helps to shift mindsets.
The framework is a bold declaration that says, “We’re doing equity work, and this is our orientation to it.”
It also does the following:
- Articulates the City’s overarching approach to equity
- Provides the conceptual underpinnings for the City’s approach to equity
- Articulates core commitments
- Maps out the relationship between this and other City Frameworks/Strategies
- Identifies broad priority areas in which work needs to be done;
- Provides a set of common definitions
- Offers resources/tools that elaborate on some of the core concepts
The adoption of the Equity Framework solidifies the foundations for significant internal work that the City needs to do to have equitable outcomes for communities across Indigenous rights, racial justice, intersectionality and systems. It is important to note that the equity framework is complementary and supporting to the Reconciliation Framework and does not replace it.
Vancouver’s current equity priorities
The City has introduced various municipal priorities that demonstrate an active commitment to equity-building and a plan for moving ideas to practice.
These include the following:
- Actioning the Equity Framework including communicating key messages to all City employees
- Setting three- year organizational equity goals, associated metrics and success indicators
- Building a public equity dashboard to show departmental goals and actions and incorporate across work plans
- Assessing internal resources and opportunities for prioritization to resource this work and incorporating resourcing needs to annual budgets
- Updating the Equity Framework, assessment and equity goals every three years
Upcoming poverty reduction plan
The City’s upcoming poverty reduction plan intends to weave together the many dimensions of their equity work, including:
- the Equity Framework;
- the Healthy City Strategy;
- the Accessibility Strategy;
- a Childcare Strategy;
- community benefits agreements;
- anti-racism initiatives;
- the reduced fare transit pilot; and
- Indigenous economic well-being.
- See other posts in our blog post series on Centering Anti-Racist and Equity Frameworks in Anti-Poverty Work
- Read more in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion section of the Communities Ending Poverty Communities of Practice Coaching Library.