New Report Illustrates How Ontarians Experience Hate

The report found 65% of Ontarians experienced hate in the past three years.

Hazel Woodrow
Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Image is the Ontario flag pinned on a map

A new report is shedding light on how Ontarians experience hate, while providing  recommendations to governments, tech companies, and community groups, on how to better understand and combat racism and hate. 

Contracted by the Mosaic Institute, the Network for Economic and Social Trends at Western University,  the report relies on an online survey designed to assess “Ontarians’ understanding of hate; their experiences with hate;  the nature of, and reasons for, the hate they encountered; and the impact of these experiences on their lives.”

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Editor’s note: The Mosaic Institute is a fundraising partner of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

The report found “65% of Ontarians experienced hate in the past three years” and that “up to 25% felt others do nothing to address hate.”

The report collected and analyzed data from over 3,000 individuals between April and May of 2023. 

“Hate means different things to different people,” the report reads, “making it very difficult to have a coordinated response to rising instances of hate across Ontario.”

To respond to this inconsistency in definitions, Mosaic says we need “consistent definitions and understandings of hate as a foundation for a coordinated, sequenced response across sectors and decisionmakers.”

The report said that “while individuals may perpetuate hate, systems have a role to play in addressing it.” Ontarians, the study found, want governments to develop and use consistent definitions of “hate,” “hate crimes,” and “hate incidents.”

The report addresses the impact of social media, current events, and mis/disinformation on Canada’s hate ecosystem. Considering the finding that most hate was most commonly perpetrated by strangers, Mosaic says “People are seeing those different and unknown to them as a threat. Individuals may be empowered by others who share their belief, even if they act as individuals. Current events, the media, misinformation and disinformation can fuel hate.”

Despite the finding that social media platforms were the most common place to experience hate, only 5% of respondents “reported their experiences to online platforms/tech companies. 

“This may be because many participants (25%) believe that tech companies do not do anything to address experiences of hate.”

An almost identically small number of respondents (4%) reported their experiences to the police. Similarly, Mosaic says this may be due to “a belief that the police would not be helpful (25% indicated that they believe the police do nothing to address experiences of hate).”

Unlike police-reported hate crime statistics, which contain classification difficulties that may result in undercounting the data for groups and people with intersectional identities, Understanding Hate in Ontario explicitly focuses on this aspect of experiencing hate. 

Given that “few people are reporting to the police,” Mosaic suggests that “perhaps funding should be directed more towards the services that people are accessing.”

Those services include community organizations and independent anti-hate groups, both of which Mosaic urges be better funded. They encourage community organizations to maintain a key focus on “upstream work targeting the prejudices underlying hate.” “Upstream work” refers to work that addresses the causes of social problems (as opposed to “downstream work” which responds to the impacts of social problems).

They also emphasize that “Community initiatives need to both support those experiencing hate and be mindful of how their messages can be co-opted to fuel more hate.

“The words we use matter, and there needs to be dedicated investment in initiatives that create safe spaces for various groups and those that engage across identities to foster understanding.”

The report also found that “Most people believe that hate is learned and that education is an effective tool to combat hate.” According to Mosaic, we need “education aimed at dismantling prejudice and reducing hate, education on how to respond to hate, [and] training for schools, media, and workplaces on how to mitigate and respond to hate.”

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