New statistics are prompting government advocates in Ottawa to pass anti-racism legislation.
Canada has seen a sharp increase in hate crimes targeting religion, sexual orientation and race since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released this week by Statistics Canada.
Canada, which prides itself on being a diverse and welcoming country for immigrants and refugees, saw a 72% increase in its rate of hate crimes between 2019 and 2021, Statistics Canada said.
This increase is partly due to the pandemic, which has exposed and exacerbated safety and discrimination concerns. Chinese Canadians reported increased discrimination. Wuhan, China was the epicenter of the virus. The World Health Organization said in June that its latest investigation into the origins of COVID-19 was inconclusive, largely because data from China was lacking.
In 2021, hate crimes targeting religion jumped 67%, those targeting sexual orientation jumped 64%, and those targeting race or ethnicity increased 6%.
This prompted minority groups to urge the government to pass an anti-racism law.
“We simply cannot afford to further delay actions to end anti-Asian hatred and racism,” Amy Go, president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, told the agency. Reuters press.
The council called on the federal government to pass an anti-racism law to collect specific information about the perpetrators, where the crime is taking place and the circumstances in which it occurs to hold those responsible accountable.
Go said the government is considering the request. The Canadian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Migration is a crucial engine of growth for the Canadian economy, with immigrant workers accounting for 84% of total labor force growth in the 2010s, according to Statistics Canada.
Canada welcomed a record 401,000 new permanent residents in 2021, and Ottawa has set an ambitious target of 432,000 newcomers this year.
Several incidents targeting Asians have left Manan Doshi, an international student who recently arrived in Canada, in doubt about his ability to stay in the country.
Doshi said his family asked him to return to India after witnessing life-threatening incidents at Toronto subway stations that frightened him.
Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, recommended that the federal government invest C$15 million ($11.6 million) to help victims of hate crimes.
“This is unacceptable because hate can forever damage people’s ability to participate in society,” Hashim said.
The new statistics documented a 71% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2021 compared to 2020, during which there were 144 incidents.
“This year there has been a dramatic spike in anti-Muslim hatred, according to Statistics Canada figures,” the National Council of Canadian Muslims said in a tweet earlier this week.
“We lost Canadian Muslims to hate in 2021. These numbers don’t tell the whole story either – we know that the number of hate crimes far exceeds what appears in hate crime statistics.
Muslims in Canada have been the target of major heinous attacks in recent years, including a mass shooting that claimed six worshipers at a Quebec City mosque in 2017. Last year, a mugger ran over a Muslim family with his truck in London, Ont., killing four people in what police described as an Islamophobic attack.