What StatCan learned by asking 35,000 Canadians about pandemic discrimination
TORONTO -- New data from Statistics Canada is adding to growing calls for the federal government to address racial inequities experienced by various population groups in Canada during the course of the pandemic in its economic recovery plan.
The survey results released Thursday found that 28 per cent of Canadians surveyed reported they had experienced some form of discrimination since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics Canada surveyed 35,000 Canadians between Aug. 4 to 24 to better understand which groups have been negatively impacted as a result of systemic failures amid the health crisis.
The agency notes that the survey data is not based on random selection and that the findings should not be interpreted to represent the overall Canadian population.
Young participants aged 15 to 24 were twice as likely as seniors aged 65 and older to report that they had experienced discrimination over the course of the pandemic. Among youth, Statistics Canada found women were 45 per cent more likely than their male counterparts to reporting having experienced prejudice.
Both Indigenous men and women were more likely than their non-Indigenous participants to report experiences of discrimination, but the difference was again particularly large among women.
DISCRIMINATION IN POPULATION GROUPS
According to the report, the experiences of discrimination also varied “across ethnocultural characteristics.”
Statistics Canada found that Chinese, Korean, Southeast Asian and Black participants were more than twice as likely as white participants to report that they had experienced discrimination.
The agency said the results are consistent with the data from a previous crowdsourcing initiative, which found that Chinese, Korean and Southeast Asian participants perceived an increase in the frequency of race-based harassment or attacks since the beginning of the pandemic.
The new report also found that immigrants who arrived in Canada within the last 10 years were more likely than established immigrants and Canadian-born participants to report that they had experienced discrimination.
Gender-diverse participants who did not report their gender as exclusively female or male were almost three times more likely than males to report that they had experienced discrimination during the pandemic. LGBTQ and other sexual minority participants were also more likely to report experiencing discrimination.
Additionally, participants who identified themselves as having a disability were twice as likely as participants without a disability to report being discriminated against.
FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION
Among those who said that they experienced discrimination, the most commonly reported form was based on race or skin colour (34 per cent), followed by age (30 per cent), physical appearance (26 per cent) ethnicity and culture (25 per cent) and sex (22 per cent).
Avvy Go, director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, says the new data amplifies equity concerns those who have experienced racism have had for years.
Go told CTV's Your Morning on Thursday that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed racial inequities in multiple sectors across Canada including employment, health care, housing and education.
"Even before the pandemic, People of Colour, Indigenous people were earning less income, they were more likely to be employed in low wage jobs, and they have higher unemployment rates… There has also been significant increases for unemployment rate among Chinese and South Asian, more so than any other group," Go said.
"We know that this is a result of systemic racism and structural racism within the labour market."
Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change (COP-COC) is a campaign that is currently pushing for political parties to acknowledge racial inequalities amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada's economic restart plan.
The campaign is calling for the federal government to address discrimination within its borders so the health crisis does not continue to impact racialized groups more so than other populations.
"By doing so, we will increase the opportunities for employment for the underrepresented groups, and that includes not just people of colour, but also women and people with disability as well," Go said.
WHERE AND HOW DISCRIMINATION OCCURS
As each group faces its own set of unique challenges and circumstances, Statistics Canada found that the most common forms of discrimination differed between groups.
Among Indigenous participants who faced bias over the course of the pandemic, the most common form was discrimination based on Indigenous identity while those belonging to a visible minority group reported forms related to race and ethnicity. Among Black participants 84 per cent reported that they had experienced discrimination related to race or skin colour.
Similar to how the forms of discrimination were mixed, where participants experienced prejudice also varied.
Statistics Canada reported that about 4 in 10 participants (36 per cent) said that they had experienced discrimination in a store, bank or restaurant. One-third experienced it while using public areas such as parks and sidewalks, almost one-third experienced it online, and approximately 3 in 10 experienced it in the workplace or when applying for a job.
However, not all groups experienced the same types of discrimination situations.
According to the data, Black and South Asian participants reported more often incidents of discrimination that occurred in a store, bank or restaurant.
Chinese and Filipino participants were more likely to report experiencing discrimination while using public areas, and Arab respondents were more likely to report bias in the workplace.
Gender-diverse and sexual minority participants said they mostly faced discrimination online.
In all population groups, participants who reported experiencing discrimination also had lower levels of trust in institutions, including the police and the court system.
Statistics Canada acknowledged that each population group faces its own unique set of challenges and additional analyses will be required to get a deeper understanding of issues faced by all groups of people that live in Canada.
Visualizations by CTVNews.ca's Mahima Singh