The City of Montreal’s Service for Diversity and Inclusion

Posted on December 14, 2022
By Tamarack Institute
This blog post is part of a series of field notes on communities that are incorporating anti-racism measures into their anti-poverty planning. See the full series of field notes here.


Montreal, QCThe City of Montréal’s Service for Diversity and Inclusion (Ville de Montréal Service de la diversité et de l'inclusion sociale) is composed of four divisions engaged in making Montreal a city accessible for everyone. From poverty reduction, to fighting against discrimination and homelessness, as well as urban security and newcomer integration, the SDIS is working towards greater inclusion and diversity in the City.


In 2018, the City of Montreal created space to think outside the box with new partners by holding a large public consultation on racism and discrimination where 800 people participated. The follow up report, released in 2020, led the City to become more intentional about their equity-building work. They formally recognized systemic racism and discrimination, which moved it from a departmental to a city-wide priority, which including top level direction and buy-in.

The report included 38 recommendations that have helped to advance the City’s work in Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) and intersectionality. A key recommendation was that the City of Montreal adopt an action plan (with targets, a budget, progress indicators, and a timeline) for the implementation of GBA+ across all action plans, policies, programs, projects and budgets. Many of the GBA+ tools used by the City of Montreal uses were drawn from the Federal Government and applied to their local context.Solidarité, équité et inclusion : Plan d’action 2021-2025

The City recognized that to implement these recommendations across departments, they would need to start internally. They have so far trained more than 1000 people from across departments, including professionals, managers and elected officials, thus shifting mindsets and providing them with the tools they need to take action. They have also grown to have 145 peer educators that now accompany a wide range of City projects (e.g., from infrastructure through social development).

In 2021, the City created an office with a Commissioner that works on systemic racism. This office developed the 2021-2021 Solidarity, Equity and Inclusion action plan, for which GBA+ is applied as a guiding principle. To help move this plan to practice, the Department of Diversity and Social Inclusion is taking the lead on implementing 30 of its 70 actions. 

Actions from the City of Montreal that demonstrate their committed and active approach include:

  • Collecting intersectional data, including a City-wide survey on inclusion of immigrants
  • Community funding for projects aimed at fighting racism, discrimination, and poverty, supporting children and youth, and preventing urban violence
  • Implementing GBA+ in five City departments, including taking an intersectional approach, and coaching staff to ensure they are comfortable using associated tools and approaches
  • Deploying a mobile social intervention and mediation team that provides a rapid response to conflict, distress, or cohabitation situations
  • Running capacity building workshops on anti-racism, discrimination, and intersectional approaches for organizations
  • Hosting a well-attended monthly Community of Practice where people from across Montreal discuss what’s working, challenges, and lessons learne

The City of Montreal’s lessons learned for creating winning conditions include that:

  • Institutional willingness and adequate and stable human and financial resources are key;
  • Equity-building is a long-term progress that requires coaching ad capacity along the way; and,
  • Evaluating, systematizing, and sharing results supports the work to get entrenched City-wide

Montreal’s future plans include developing a lexicon to define equity-related terms and how they interrelate, as well as working towards a human rights-based approach to equity.


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Tamarack Institute

By Tamarack Institute

The Tamarack Institute is a connected force of more than 40,000 engaged practitioners and policymakers who work collaboratively to advance positive community change. Learn more here

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