Police-reported hate crimes in Canada saw a drastic increase in 2017, up 47 percent from the previous year, according to the latest numbers from the government statisticians — the highest it’s ever been since the data first became available in 2009.
Police reported 2,073 hate crimes in 2017 — 664 more than in 2016, with incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and Black people accounting for most of the increase.
Not all hate crimes are reported, Statistics Canada noted in its new report, and numbers also depend on a police service’s level of of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate.
An increase in numbers doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in actual hate crimes being committed, according to the report — it could also be the result of more reporting by the public because of outreach efforts by police to communities or “heightened sensitivity after high profile events.”
In 2014, the General Social Survey on Canadians' Safety (Victimization) found that two thirds of crimes believed to be motivated by hate weren’t reported to police.
In 2017, the largest increase in police-reported hate crimes was seen in Ontario, where the number of incidents jumped 67 percent from 612 in 2016 to 1023 in 2017 — there was a 207-percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, an 84-percent jump in incidents targeting Black people, and a 41-percent increase in hate crimes against the Jewish population.
Quebec also saw a 50 percent rise in hate crimes, which went up from 327 to 489, with crimes against Muslims accounting for most of the increase, almost tripling from 41 in 2016 to 117 in 2017.
There was a spike in hate crimes against Muslims in February in the province, right after a gunman went on a shooting spree and killed six men at a Quebec mosque.
Most of the increase in police-reported hate crimes, the report notes, was driven by non-violent incidents, including mischief or public incitement of hatred — these types of incidents went up by 64 percent. Violent hate crimes, which includes uttering threats, also rose, however, with 25 percent more incidents in 2017.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims points out that the latest numbers also don’t account for crimes committed against people who are perceived to be part of a certain group even though they aren’t (for example, Sikhs who are believed to be Muslim) or people who identify as being part of more than one group (Arab and Muslim, for example).
“We need more robust systems to increase accuracy & accessibility of reporting mechanisms; better intersectionality lens in reporting; a strong anti-racism strategy that deals w/ ALL hate at systemic level before these crimes happen,” said a tweet from the NCCM.