Overt Discrimination and Hate Crimes are Increasing During COVID-19.

AuthorMcKay-Panos, Linda

Generally, when talking about the situation in Canada, the emphasis is on the prevalence of systemic discrimination -policies or practices that are part of an organization, which perpetuate disadvantage. This is pervasive in Canada and difficult to address because it is reinforced by acceptance as the "normal" way of doing things. However, while complex systemic discrimination continues to exist, recently there are numerous overt examples of discrimination against racialized minorities in Canada. In some cases, the behaviour rises to the level of criminal assault or hate crimes. It seems as though fear and ignorance have caused some people to act out on their racist attitudes.

CTV News reported on April 27, 2020 that a poll carried out by Corbett Communications revealed that 14 per cent of respondents in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver either "believed that all Chinese or Asian people carry the coronavirus (four per cent) or were uncertain about that (10 per cent)." In the same article, Susan Eng, director for the Chinese Canadian National Council of Social Justice, said that: "With results like this, it is not surprising that we are seeing a growing increase in anti-Asian racism, likely provoked by COVID-19 fears and ignorance, but no less threatening for that." The poll also found that one in eight respondents were aware of racist incidents in their neighbourhood since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been several examples of crimes against people of Asian descent across Canada. Vancouver police are investigating an attack on March 13, 2020 against a 92-year-old man as a hate crime. The Edmonton Police Service reports that there have been several incidents of hate-related graffiti reported in Edmonton since March 17. On April 29, 2020, Marichu Antonio of Calgary's Action Dignity reported that online expressions of hatred towards newcomers who worked at Cargill Meat Packing Plant has resulted in newcomers being turned away from services such as banks and grocery stores. There are almost daily reports of racist incidents across Canada.

Several prominent Canadians and world figures have commented on this crisis. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out that the world is facing "the biggest international crisis in generations", stressing that human rights "cannot be an afterthought". The report states that "the virus is the threat, not the people, and emphasized that any emergency and security measures...

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