Police-Reported Hate Incidents Spiked In 2020 According To StatCan Hate Crime Data

Expanding on initial data released in 2021, the new report offers additional insights into hate crimes and incidents in 2020.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network

A report released by Statistics Canada paints a picture of rising police-reported incidents of hate, the largest number on record since comparable data became available in 2009.

According to “Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2020,” 2,669 criminal incidents “motivated by hate” were reported to law enforcement across the country. The report offers a deeper analysis of previously released crime statistics.

“The first year of the pandemic saw the number of police-reported hate crimes increase by 37%, or 718 more incidents, compared with the previous year,” the report reads.

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Hate crimes targeting the Black population represented 26% of all hate crimes reported by police to StatCan, making it the most common form of officially reported hate-motivated incidents. 

Canada’s Jewish population was the target of 13% of the reported numbers, with the East or Southeast Asian population accounting for 11% of the total and incidents targeting a sexual orientation at 10%.

Startlingly, crimes reported related to a race or ethnicity increased 80%, from 884 to 1,594, according to the report. The majority of this increase targets the Black population with an increase of 318 incidents from 245 in 2019 to 663 in 2020. After that, police reported 202 more incidents against East or Southeast Asian peoples (269 in total), while the Indigenous population saw an increase of 44 incidents (73 in total) and the South Asian population an increase of 38 (119 in total). 

Overall in 2020, 62% of police-reported hate crimes were motivated by race.

Broken down by province, the largest increases in the number of hate crimes reports came from Ontario. The province reported a total of 1,164 incidents, an increase of 316 over 2019. That’s over double the amount reported for British Columbia, whose police counted 519 incidents reported by police, a 198 increase. Quebec followed close behind with 485 incidents, and Alberta with 291. 

“The majority of the provinces and two territories reported increases,” the report reads, “with the exceptions of New Brunswick (-11 incidents), Northwest Territories (-2 incidents), Prince Edward Island (-1 incident) and Manitoba (no change). When accounting for population size among the provinces, rates of hate crimes per 100,000 population increased the most in Nova Scotia (+70%), British Columbia (+60%), Saskatchewan (+60%), Alberta (+39%) and Ontario (+35%).”

During this time, both non-violent hate crimes and violent hate crimes increased by 41% and 32% in 2020 respectively. The only type of reported category of crime that decreased according to police numbers was individuals advocating genocide, which dropped from nine incidents to five.

“Non-violent hate crimes accounted for the majority of incidents (57%) in 2020, with the increase in non-violent hate crime largely due to more incidents involving general mischief (+251 incidents) and mischief in relation to property used primarily for worship or by an identifiable group (+51 incidents).”

“The number of violent hate crimes rose from 865 in 2019 to 1,143 in 2020.” 

This includes 358 incidents of assault and 168 incidents of assault with a weapon and aggravated assault., Criminal harassment totals increased by 47 incidents, bringing the 2020 totals up to 114 in total, and uttering threats increasing by 31 reported incidents to 325.

The report also notes that an analysis of “all police-reported hate crimes” from 2011 to 2020 shows that victims of violent hate crimes committed on the basis of Indigenous identity or sexual orientation tended to be the “youngest among hate crime victims and sustain the highest proportion of injury.”

There was a decrease in the number of police-reported hate crimes targeting a religious group, the third year in a row these reports have reflected this decline. Police-reported hate crimes based on religion declined 16% from 613 incidents in 2019 to 515 incidents in 2020. 

“This decrease was primarily due to fewer hate crimes targeting the Muslim population, which declined from 182 to 82 incidents in 2020 (-55%),” Statistics Canada wrote. However, “hate crimes against the Jewish population rose slightly in 2020, from 306 to 321 incidents (+5%).”

It is important, however, to be cautious in making comparisons between groups. There’s an issue with the data, which confuses categories like “Muslim.” If a Black, Muslim woman has her hijab pulled and is pushed to the ground while the perpetrator is yelling racial slurs, will police code the crime as motivated by a hatred of Black people, Muslim people, women, or all three? 

The more intersecting identities a person has, the more likely any one of their identities will be undercounted in the data.

Further, some communities have more institutional support and are more comfortable with reporting incidents to law enforcement, so their numbers could be higher as a result. The 2020 report does make note of this, stating that “Feelings of safety and public perceptions of institutions like the police and the criminal justice system can impact the willingness of particular communities to report incidents to the police,” in regard to Indigenous communities and individuals. 

“According to data from the 2020 General Social Survey (GSS) on Social Identity, one in five (22%) Indigenous people have little or no confidence in police, double the proportion of non-Indigenous, non-visible minority people (11%),” Statistics Canada said.

In the past year, the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has also noticed several hate incidents perpetrated by children, or directed at children. One of the most recent took place at a Toronto public school, where two students reportedly stood on a filing cabinet performing the Seig Heil – also referred to as a Nazi or Roman salute – while another student shouted "Heil Hitler." It was the third in a string of antisemitic incidents taking place at schools across Ontario. 

Another school saw a Black student become the recipient of rape threats that included racial epithets.


Click here to read the full report. 

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