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Police-reported hate crimes

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Police services in Canada reported 1,036 hate crimes in 2008, up 35% from 2007. Just over half (55%) were motivated by race or ethnicity, 26% by religion and 16% by sexual orientation.

All three major categories of hate crime increased in 2008. The largest increase was among those motivated by sexual orientation, which more than doubled from 2007 to 2008. Hate crimes motivated by religion increased 53%, while those motivated by race or ethnicity increased to a lesser extent, up 15%.

Violent crimes, mainly assaults and uttering threats, accounted for 42% of all hate crimes. Mischief offences such as vandalism to property accounted for 47%, while other non-violent offences comprised the remaining 11%.

Hate crimes reported by police, by type of motivation

Hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation were the most violent in nature. In 2008, 75% of those motivated by sexual orientation were violent compared with 38% of racially-motivated incidents and 25% of religiously-motivated incidents.

Among violent incidents motivated by sexual orientation, 85% of the victims were male.

Note to readers

Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are determined to have been motivated by hate towards an identifiable group. The incident may target race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, language, sex, age, mental or physical disability, or other factors such as profession or political beliefs.

Data on the incidence of police-reported hate crime became available in 2006 from police services representing 88% of the population. Data for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are available only for British Columbia.

The number of hate crimes presented in this release likely undercounts the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all crimes are reported to police. Other research has shown that a victim's decision to report a hate-motivated crime to police may be influenced by various factors. These include: the importance of the incident; police sensitivity to the issue; existence of specialized hate crime units; fear of retaliation and feelings of humiliation; language or cultural barriers; and, the accessibility of victim services in the community.

Blacks most commonly targeted racial group

Among the hate crimes motivated by race or ethnicity, almost 4 in 10 were committed against Blacks. Police reported 205 hate crimes against Blacks in 2008, up 30% over 2007, but still lower than the 2006 total of 238.

South Asians, which includes East Indians and Pakistanis, were the next most commonly targeted group, accounting for 12% of hate crime incidents motivated by race or ethnicity. Incidents targeting South Asians increased by 21% in 2008.

Jewish faith most commonly targeted religion

As in previous years, about two-thirds of religiously-motivated hate crimes were committed against the Jewish faith. There were 165 hate crimes targeting the Jewish faith in 2008, up 42%.

Police reported 30 hate crimes against the Catholic faith, double the total in 2007. The 26 incidents against the Muslim faith represented a slight drop from 2007.

Highest rates in Vancouver and Hamilton

Vancouver and Hamilton reported the highest rates (6.3 hate crimes per 100,000 population) among Canada's 10 largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Police reported 143 hate crimes in Vancouver in 2008, nearly double the total from the previous year.

There were 271 hate crimes reported in the CMA of Toronto. It ranked near the middle of the 10 largest CMAs with a rate of 5.4 hate crimes per 100,000 population. Montréal, where police reported 38 hate crimes in 2008, had the lowest rate (1.0).

The number of hate crimes reported by police in any given area may be influenced by the presence or absence of specialized hate crime units or initiatives.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3302 and 4504.

The Juristat article "Police-reported hate crime in Canada," 2008, Vol. 30, no. 2 (85-002-X, free), is now available. From the Key resource module of our website under Publications, choose All subjects, then Crime and Justice, and Juristat.

Data for 2008 on hate-motivated crime, street gang crime and cyber crime are available for a sub-set of police services across Canada reporting to the newest version of the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2.2).

These new data elements were developed by Statistics Canada with the financial assistance of Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Data are available upon request only.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Information and Client Services (toll-free 1-800-387-2231; 613-951-9023), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Table 1

Hate crimes reported by police, by type of motivation
Type of motivation 2007r 2008 2007 to 2008
  number %1 number %1 % change in number
Race or ethnicity          
Black 158 33.5 205 37.3 30
South Asian 53 11.2 64 11.7 21
East and Southeast Asian 57 12.1 44 8.0 -23
Arab or West Asian 34 7.2 37 6.7 9
Caucasian 50 10.6 22 4.0 -56
Aboriginal² 14 3.0 20 3.6 43
Multiple races or ethnicities 75 15.9 115 20.9 53
Other 31 6.6 42 7.7 35
Unknown 18 ... 14 ... -22
Total 490 100.0 563 100.0 15
Jewish 116 68.6 165 64.2 42
Catholic 15 8.9 30 11.7 100
Muslim (Islam) 29 17.2 26 10.1 -10
Other 9 5.3 36 14.0 300
Unknown 4 ... 8 ... 100
Total 173 100.0 265 100.0 53
Sexual orientation 71 ... 159 ... 124
Other motivation 14 ... 33 ... 136
Unknown motivation 17 ... 16 ... -6
Total 765 ... 1,036 ... 35
not applicable
Percentages exclude unknowns.
The number of hate crimes against Aboriginals may be under-reported due to the unavailability of data from police services in the territories and the northern part of the Prairie provinces where the proportion of the Aboriginal population is highest.

Table 2

Hate crimes reported by police, by type of motivation, by 10 largest census metropolitan areas
  Race/ethnicity Religion Sexual orientation Other or unknown Total
  number rate¹
Vancouver 61 40 34 8 143 6.3
Hamilton 29 2 2 0 33 6.3
Kitchener 16 15 0 0 31 6.1
Ottawa2 26 19 3 3 51 5.6
Toronto 127 93 43 8 271 5.4
Calgary 43 8 6 0 57 5.3
Edmonton 20 3 4 0 27 3.4
Winnipeg 7 5 1 1 14 2.1
Québec 6 2 4 3 15 2.0
Montréal 18 5 7 8 38 1.0
Populations have been adjusted to follow policing boundaries and to reflect missing coverage from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police outside of British Columbia. Rates are calculated per 100,000 population.
Ottawa refers to the Ontario portion of the Ottawa–Gatineau census metropolitan area.