Statistics Canada says hate crimes in Canada rose by five per cent in 2015, with the rise is largely due to an increase in incidents targeting the Muslim population and Arabs or West Asians.
In 2015, police reported 1,362 criminal incidents motivated by hate, 67 more than the previous year, according to the data published Tuesday.
Of them, 48 per cent were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity, 35 per cent were motivated by hatred of a religion, and 11 per cent were hate crimes targeting sexual orientation.
“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,” Statistics Canada said in a note accompanying Tuesday’s data release.
The agency did note, however, that in 2015, police services increased outreach to ethnic groups and, in addition, the National Council of Canadian Muslims made efforts to encourage reporting of hate crimes to police.
Police-reported hate crimes targeting the Muslim population rose from 99 incidents in 2014 to 159 incidents in 2015, while crimes targeting the Jewish population declined from 213 in 2014 to 178 in 2015.
Statistics Canada says eight of 10 provinces reported an increase in the number of police-reported hate crimes from 2014 to 2015.
The increase was most pronounced in Alberta, where police reported 193 hate crimes compared with 139 the year before, a rise driven by a higher number of crimes motivated by hatred against the Muslim population, Arab or West Asian populations, black populations and the Jewish population.
The agency noted that Alberta reported an overall increase in crime in 2015; police officers from the province have previously said they believe the increase in crime overall is linked to the province’s economic downturn.
In Ontario, which historically records close to half of the total number of hate crimes in Canada, fewer crimes motivated against the Jewish religion and against the black population saw the overall rate decline by five per cent from 2014.