How is Hate Crime defined in Canada?
Hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group. According to s318(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada such groups are distinguishable by race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, or on any other similar factor. In other words, any criminal act has the potential to be a hate crime if the hate motivation can be proven.
Who are the victims of hate crime?
From 2020 to 2021, much of the rise in hate crimes targeting a race or ethnicity (+6%) was the result of more reported hate crimes targeting the Arab and West Asian populations (+46%; +58 incidents), the East and Southeast Asian populations (+16%; +42 incidents), and the South Asian population (+21%; +29 incidents). Hate crimes targeting the Black population dropped by 5% in 2021, following a 96% increase in 2020. There were 642 incidents targeting the Black population in 2021, corresponding to the highest rate among specific racialized groups (41 incidents per 100,000 population). The next highest rates were among hate crimes against the Arab and West Asian populations (17 incidents per 100,000 population), the East and Southeast Asian populations (9 incidents), and the South Asian population (6 incidents). See the Note to readers for limitations on interpreting hate crime rates for specific populations.
Following a large increase (+169%; +49 incidents) from 2019 to 2020, the number of police-reported hate crimes targeting Indigenous people—First Nations people, Métis or Inuit—dropped by 1 incident in 2021, totalling 77 incidents. The number of hate crimes targeting Indigenous people rose significantly during the pandemic compared with previous years (2017 to 2019).
The number of hate crimes reported by police in Canada rose from 2,646 incidents in 2020 to 3,360 in 2021, a 27% increase. This finding follows a 36% increase in 2020. The number of police-reported hate crimes rose by 72% from 2019 to 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated experiences of discrimination in Canada—including hate crimes—and underscored an increase in discourse around issues of systemic discrimination.
Higher numbers of hate crimes targeting a given religion (+67%; 884 incidents), sexual orientation (+64%; 423 incidents), and race or ethnicity (+6%; 1,723 incidents) accounted for most of the reported increase from 2020 to 2021. All provinces and territories reported increases in the number of hate crimes in 2021, except for Yukon, where it was unchanged. When population size is accounted for, the rate of police-reported hate crime in Canada rose 26% in 2021, to 8.8 incidents per 100,000 population. As in previous years, more than half (56%) of police-reported hate crimes were non-violent offences, primarily mischief.
It is of course important to remember that the reports generated by Statistics Canada are based only on those incidents that are reported to police and are subsequently classified as motivated by hate. Incidents that do not meet the classification criteria will not be included in the statistics.
More information can be found on Statistics Canada
- What can and should I do?
- In his 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Elie Wiesel said: “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. From this we can draw an important lesson: that we do not, as engaged citizens, have the luxury of ignoring hateful activity when it happens.
- Getting involved doesn’t mean placing yourself at risk. There are things you can do to increase the likelihood that hate crimes are noted, reported, and properly investigated.
Should I contact the police? Yes, you should. The police are responsible for recording and investigating such occurrences. Your police service may have a dedicated hate crimes unit, but your initial contact will likely be with an officer from your local division. When you speak to the police, make sure that you have all of the important information with you. It’s important to write down what you saw, when and where you saw it and (in some cases) whom you saw do it. You may think that you will remember the details but it’s much better to write them down.
But what if it’s nothing? Let the police decide. That’s their area of expertise.
For further information about this topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Smiths Falls Police Service
Ontario Provincial Police
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime
Crime Stoppers 1-800-222-8477
The Legal Clinic
Canadian Anti-Hate Network