Canadian Jews under attack: Close to 50% rise in hate crimes towards Jews in 2021

Hate crimes targeting religious groups increased 67 percent from 2020, breaking an encouraging three-year downturn.

 National Flag of Canada (Queen's Park, Toronto). (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
National Flag of Canada (Queen's Park, Toronto).
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Jewish Canadians remain the most targeted religious minority for hate crime, and second overall, according to Canada’s national statistical agency.

Statistics Canada released data on Tuesday showing that overall, hate crimes in 2021 targeting religious groups increased 67% from 2020, breaking a three-year downturn. Incidents targeting the Jewish community grew a dramatic 47% since 2020, and cumulatively 59% over the last two years. This reflects that 1.3 people out of every 1,000 members of Canada’s Jewish community report being the target of a hate crime in 2021.

There are approximately 380,000 Jews in Canada, representing barely 1% of the population, yet members of the Jewish community were victims of 14% of all reported hate crimes in 2021.

“Statistically, Canadian Jews were more than 10 times more likely than any other Canadian religious minority to report being the target of a hate crime,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “This is alarming. This report should be a call to action for all Canadians to stand against antisemitism and all forms of hate. Like the Jewish community, many racialized and minority communities experienced a spike in hate crime last year, further underscoring the need for concerted efforts to stop this worrying trend.

“We are grateful that police services across the country take these incidents seriously, but more needs to be done to protect vulnerable communities. This includes greater support for security and safety at community institutions such as houses of worship; equity, diversity, and inclusion education that includes training on antisemitism; and a national strategy to target online hate and radicalization.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, November 1, 2021. (credit: COURTESY) Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, November 1, 2021. (credit: COURTESY)

“Although Canada remains one of the best countries in the world in which to be Jewish, or any other minority for that matter, these numbers should concern all Canadians. One hate crime is one too many.”

“Statistically, Canadian Jews were more than 10 times more likely than any other Canadian religious minority to report being the target of a hate crime. This is alarming.”

Shimon Koffler Fogel

Police-reported incidents

There were more than two million reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic) in Canada in 2021, about 25,500 more incidents than in 2020. At 5,375 incidents per 100,000 population, the police-reported crime rate – which measures the volume of crime – increased 1% in 2021, following a 9% decrease in 2020. In 2021, the violent crime rate increased 5%, while the property crime rate decreased 1%. Following a large decrease in 2020, the property crime rate was the lowest it has been since 1965.

The number of reported hate crimes increased 27% to 3,360 incidents in 2021. Compared with 2019, hate crimes have increased 72% over the last two years. Hate crimes targeting religion (+67% including Jewish, Muslim and Catholic) and sexual orientation (+64%) accounted for most of the national change, along with more incidents targeting race or ethnicity (+6%).

Not only Jews are under attack in Canada – reported hate crimes targeting the Jewish (+47%), Muslim (+71%) and Catholic (+260%) religions were all up. The increase in hate crimes targeting the Muslim population followed a similar decrease in 2020. The increase occurred in the same year as an attack in London, Ontario, targeted a Muslim family and resulted in four homicides and one attempted homicide.

“While it is not possible to link police-reported hate crime incidents to particular events, media coverage and public discourse can increase awareness as well as draw negative reactions from people who share hateful attitudes,” the report stated. “In 2021, there were discoveries of unmarked graves on former residential school sites. Following these discoveries, there were reports of hate incidents targeting the indigenous population as well as churches and other religious institutions. Any criminal incident deemed by police to be motivated by hate would be included in these statistics.”