Hate crimes up 37% in 2020, other crimes down: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Canada has seen a 37% increase in hate crimes in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, a statistic that supporters say shows the need to be aware of what racialized citizens are up to. confronted.

According to Statistics Canada, 2,669 hate crimes were reported to police in 2020, the highest number since comparable data became available in 2009.

That’s even as the report shows the overall police-reported crime rate, excluding traffic violations, fell by 10% from 2019 to 2020.

According to Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity increased 80% in 2020 compared to 2019 and accounted for most of the national increase.

It says reported hate crimes targeting East or Southeast Asians have increased by 301%; those aimed at blacks increased by 92%; hatred against indigenous peoples increased by 152%; and those against South Asians were up 47%.

Queenie Choo, executive director of the United Chinese Community Enrichment Services Society in British Columbia, expressed concern about the increase in hate crimes among population groups.

“It’s not the theme of this week or this month. It’s an ongoing problem,” she said in an interview.

The report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic “shed a spotlight” on how Canadians of different races perceived their safety.

“We’re all Canadians. There’s no one less Canadian than anyone else. (Race) shouldn’t be an issue in our country,” Choo said.

According to the report, the largest increases in police-reported hate crimes were seen in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Kasari Govender, British Columbia’s human rights commissioner, said the report’s findings were not surprising.

“This closely mirrors what community members across British Columbia have been saying for nearly two years not just about hate crimes, but hate incidents more broadly,” she said in a statement.

Govender’s office launched a public inquiry in August 2021 into hate during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she said “the pandemic has created fertile ground for pre-existing hateful beliefs.”

“We need to recognize the conditions in which hate flourishes in order to address them.”

No increases were reported in Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick or the Northwest Territories, but the report notes that relatively low population figures and the number of hate crimes in the territories generally make year-to-year comparisons less reliable.

Violent and non-violent hate crimes increased from 2019 and contributed “about equally” to the overall increase in hate crimes in 2020, according to Statistics Canada.

Hate crimes targeting religion declined for the third consecutive year after peaking in 2017, the report said. But the 515 incidents reported in 2020 are still higher than what was recorded annually before 2017, he notes.

Jewish and Muslim populations continue to be the most common targets of religion-based hate crimes, he says.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in a statement that the report should be a “call to action” for Canadians.

“This is deeply alarming considering the number of hate-motivated attacks against the relatively small Jewish population,” he said. “We are grateful to police departments across the country for taking these incidents seriously, but more needs to be done to prevent them and protect vulnerable communities.”

There was a 2% decrease in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation in 2020, but the 259 reported incidents are the second highest since comparable data became available in 2009, according to the agency.

According to Statistics Canada, the increase in hate crimes in 2020 may still underestimate the number of incidents, given that not all of these crimes are reported to the police.

– By Nick Wells in Vancouver.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 18, 2022.

The Canadian Press