Although Canada may have developed a reputation for acceptance and tolerance, Statistics Canada reported today (November 28) that the number of hate crimes reported in Canada grew in 2016 from the previous year. Furthermore, Canada experienced more violent hate crimes in 2016 than in 2015, and British Columbia saw a number of increases in hate crimes targeting sexual orientation or people of Asian descent.
Overall in Canada, police reported 1,409 hate crimes in 2016, or 47 more incidents than 2015, which continues an upward trend that has occurred over the past few years. In comparison, the average number of hate crimes (since data collection on hate crimes began in 2009) has been 1,360 cases per year.
What contributed to this three-percent increase in hate crimes was a rise in hate crimes against South Asian, Arab, Jewish, and LGBT people.
Race or ethnicity
In 2016, 48 percent of hate crimes (666 cases) in Canada were motivated by racial or ethnic hatred.
This increase of four percent from the previous year can be attributed to 24 more hate crimes against South Asians and 20 more cases in which Arabs were targeted. The greatest increase in hate crimes against South Asians took place in B.C. (13), followed by Ontario (9). Meanwhile, 10 more crimes against Arabs were reported in Quebec than the previous year.
Hate crimes targeting East or Southeast Asians grew from 49 to 61 (2015 to 2016). Within this category, B.C. reported 17 more incidents than the previous year while Ontario experienced seven less.
One group that experienced a decrease in hate crimes were Indigenous people, which fell from 35 to 30 incidents in 2016.
The most frequent type of race- or ethnic-based hate crime continues to be against black people, although numbers decreased four percent, from 224 to 214 incidents in 2016.
Hate crimes that targeted people for their sexual orientation rose from 141 to 176 incidents. The largest increase occurred in Quebec (15 more cases), followed by B.C. (11), Ontario (7), and Saskatchewan (4).
Although LGBT people have made notable gains in rights and acceptance in Canada, more LGBT are becoming more visible in a wider variety of ways than in the past, including in areas that may have previously seen little to no LGBT representation or individuals coming out at younger ages.
Religion-based hate crimes, which represent one-third of all Canadian hate crimes, decreased by nine cases. Incidents against Muslims decreased from 159 to 139 and against Catholics from 55 to 27.
However, anti-Semitism increased, rising from 178 to 221 incidents. The largest increase was in Ontario (31 more cases), followed by Quebec (11) and Manitoba (7).
The largest increase in the number of hate crimes was in Quebec, rising from 270 to 327 cases, due to more cases involving Arabs, Jewish people, and sexual orientation.
British Columbia followed, with an increase from 164 to 211 incidents. The number of crimes targeting East and Southeast (which rose from 15 to 32), and South Asian (from 11 to 24) populations doubled from 2015 to 2016.
In contrast, Alberta experienced a decline, with a decrease in religion-based crimes contributing to an overall reduction from 193 to 139 incidents.
Violent hate crimes (which includes assault, threats, criminal harassment, and more) increased by 16 percent, rising from 487 to 563 incidents.
In 2015, 38 percent of all hate crimes were violent while in 2016, 43 percent were violent.
The most violent hate crimes continue to be incidents involving sexual orientation.
In 2016, 71 percent of hate crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation were violent. In comparison, violent hate crimes targeting ethnicity represented 45 percent while religion-based incidents constituted 27 percent.
Reported hate crimes
Hate-crime data is influenced by two main factors: the willingness of victims to report the crimes to the police, and the ability by police to identify crimes motivated by hate. Any changes to the number of victims coming forward or developments in police expertise on hate crimes can therefore affect numbers.
According to the 2017 General Social Survey on Victimization, out of 330,000 perceived hate crimes experienced by Canadians, two-thirds of these incidents were not reported to police. Consequently, numbers of occurrences may actually be higher than the data available to Statistics Canada.
Police identify hate crimes, found to be motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group, according to four offences specified by the Criminal Code of Canada: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred, and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property.