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Self-reported experiences of discrimination among Chinese people in Canada, and their perceptions of and experiences with the police and the justice system

Released: 2023-08-28

In the five years preceding the 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians' Safety (Victimization), 3 in 10 (29%) Chinese people aged 15 and older in Canada reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment in their daily lives. While this proportion was similar to that of other racialized populations (29%), it was nearly double that of the non-racialized population (16%).

The Juristat article, "Experiences of discrimination in daily life among Chinese people in Canada, and their perceptions of and experiences with the police and the justice system," released today, examines these topics among the Chinese population living in Canada and how findings differ, compared with other racialized populations and the non-racialized population.

The proportion of Chinese people who experienced discrimination nearly doubled from 2014 to 2019

Compared with the 2014 GSS on Victimization, the proportion of Chinese people who experienced discrimination in 2019 nearly doubled (16% versus 29%). Increases were also noted among other racialized populations (21% in 2014 versus 29% in 2019) and the non-racialized population (12% versus 16%); however, the rise was more pronounced among Chinese people.

The increase in discrimination experienced by Chinese people from 2014 to 2019 was largely driven by increases in discrimination based on race or skin colour and ethnicity or culture. Discrimination on the basis of language also increased, although to a lesser extent.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Discrimination in the past five years, by reason for discrimination, Chinese population, Canada, 2014 and 2019
Discrimination in the past five years, by reason for discrimination, Chinese population, Canada, 2014 and 2019

Large majority of Chinese people report confidence in the police

A large majority (85%) of Chinese people reported a great deal of or some confidence in the police; however, this was lower than among the non-racialized population (92%). Chinese people said less often that they thought the police do a good job for every measure of police performance included in the survey, compared with other racialized populations and the non-racialized population.

One-quarter (25%) of Chinese people came into contact with police in the 12 months that preceded the GSS on Victimization, for a variety of reasons. The proportion of Chinese people who had contact with police was not significantly different, compared with other racialized populations (30%), but it was lower than the non-racialized population (36%). Of those who had contact with police, three-quarters (75%E) of Chinese people perceived their experience as positive, lower than other racialized populations (87%) and the non-racialized population (89%).

Around one in six Chinese people experienced serious legal problems or disputes in the past three years

According to the Canadian Legal Problems Survey, around one in six (16%) Chinese people experienced a serious legal problem or dispute—such as discrimination, neighbourhood issues, harassment and debt or housing issues—in the three years preceding the survey. Serious problems or disputes were less common for Chinese people than for those from other racialized populations (21%), while there was no difference compared with those from the non-racialized population.

Chinese people who experienced a serious problem most commonly reported dealing with health or social impacts as a result (68%E), while nearly half (45%E) of Chinese people said that the serious legal problem they experienced had financial impacts.

  Note to readers

For this analysis, "Chinese people" includes those who self-identified as Chinese when responding to each respective survey. Throughout the article, the experiences and perceptions of Chinese people are compared with those of individuals from other racialized populations (i.e., those who are South Asian, Black, Filipino, Arab, Latin American, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean or Japanese; those who identify with multiple racialized groups; and those who identify with a racialized group not elsewhere indicated) and those from the non-racialized population (excludes the Indigenous population [First Nations, Métis and Inuit], but includes the non-Indigenous population).

While the experiences and perspectives of Chinese people living in Canada are grouped for analysis, it is important to note that the Chinese population is diverse and includes individuals with varying backgrounds, circumstances and lived experiences. The same is true for other racialized populations and the non-racialized population, which are the comparison groups in this article. It should also be noted that the findings from the General Social Survey (GSS) in this article generally predate the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, recent experiences and perceptions may have shifted. This is especially true for the Chinese population in Canada, which was targeted during the pandemic.

The GSS on Canadians' Safety (Victimization) and the Canadian Legal Problems Survey (CLPS) are conducted in English and French. Therefore, the perceptions of those who speak neither official language may not be captured by the surveys. While the GSS on Victimization includes non-institutionalized individuals living in the provinces and territories, the CLPS is limited to those in the provinces. For reference, according to the 2021 Census of Population, nearly all (99.9%) Chinese people in Canada live in the provinces.

For the purposes of the CLPS, problems included those that could have legal implications or possible legal solutions, but they were not limited to those that were dealt with or resolved through formal legal means. Information was captured for 19 different types of problems—which could have required legal intervention—ranging from personal debt issues to civil and criminal court proceedings.

Products

The article "Experiences of discrimination in daily life among Chinese people in Canada, and their perceptions of and experiences with the police and the justice system" is now available as part of the publication Juristat (Catalogue number85-002-X).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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