Statistics Canada: Canadians Say Hate Incidents Increased Because COVID-19

One in three Chinese and 18 per cent of "visible minorities" feel there has been an increase in hate incidents

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

On June 9th Statistics Canada released the results of a survey on Canadians’ perceptions of personal safety since COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, it suggests that COVID-19 has contributed to a perceived increase in hate incidents.

Hate groups have primary targets and targets of the day. The anti-Muslim movement will always return to targeting Muslims. The neo-Nazis will always attribute blame to Jews. However, if the news of the day is an issue like the police murder of George Floyd, we’ll see their focus shift to anti-Black racism. If the news of the day is COVID-19, we’ll see their focus shift to anti-Asian racism.

During social distancing, fewer people are interacting on the street, in stores, and on public transit. Therefore, we would expect to see in-person hate incidents decrease sharply if COVID-19 and the racist rhetoric surrounding it wasn’t contributing towards hate incidents.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase in police-reported hate crimes targeting Asian persons in Vancouver, and "visible minorities" continue to tell us there’s been an increase in hate incidents.

We believe there has been a COVID-19 effect.

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"Visible minority" respondents were more likely (18%) than persons not of a "visible minority" (6%) to perceive an increase in hate incidents. Chinese (30%) and non-binary persons (22%) were the most likely to feel there has been an increase in hate incidents. Age was also a factor, with younger individuals more likely to respond that there has been an increase.

Also worth noting is that non-binary persons (31%), indigenous persons (26%), women (18%), and especially young women (32%), do not feel safe walking alone after dark in their own neighbourhoods.

While this report gives new and valuable indicators, it is a measure of perceptions and not hate incidents themselves. Police-reported data massively underreports hate incidents and lends an incorrect impression to many that hate crimes aren’t a serious issue in Canada.

We need to start measuring hate incidents accurately so we can have honest conversations about the state of hate in Canada and work those numbers down.

We have a simple solution.

Every year Statistics Canada does a General Social Survey. Every year we want them to ask about hate incidents, building on these basic questions:

  • Have you been the victim of a hate incident in the past 12 months?
  • Was it online or in-person?
  • Was it direct (person to person) or indirect (graffiti or comments targeting your group)?

The government recently launched Statistics Canada's Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics, and we are encouraging them to measure hate incidents under this framework.





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