May 21, 2021

Black Canadian National Survey – Interim Report 2021

‘Blackness in Canada’ report reveals 78 per cent of Black people believe racism is a ‘severe’ problem in Canada

TORONTO, 21 May 2021— As we approach the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent global racial reckoning, a preliminary study suggests that 70 per cent of Black people regularly experience racism in Canada.  The findings are the result of a nationwide survey conducted by York University’s Institute for Social Research in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Black Canadian National Survey, a first-of-its-kind survey conducted between March 21st and May 5th, quantifies the realities of over 5,000 racialized and non-racialized respondents from various regions across Canada on social issues concerning education, employment, criminal justice, healthcare, and the COVID-19 pandemic.  The study uniquely hones in on Black Canadian voices by combining traditional survey techniques with newer social media tools, such as wiki surveys, to garner diverse results.

“Black Canadians are typically categorized as a subset of the larger group of ‘visible minorities’ resulting in the overly simplified collection of data on race,” explained Dr. Lorne Foster, Director of the Institute of Social Research at York University. “This study is a step forward in truly recognizing the unique experience of the Black Canadian against other Canadians.”

The study validates the long-held claim that Black Canadians are more likely to have negative interactions with law enforcement.  More than one in five Black Canadians say that the police have unfairly stopped them.  This negative interaction with police appears to be of particular concern in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia, where 41 per cent Atlantic Canadian Black men and 44 per cent of Black men in BC indicate that they have been unfairly stopped by police— 19 and 22 per cent higher than the national average, respectively. 

Black Canadians and Indigenous Canadians feel that the healthcare sector needs significant improvement in race relations.  Ninety-one per cent of Black Canadians say that racism is a problem in the healthcare sector, while 70 per cent believe that it is a severe problem.  Almost nine out of ten Indigenous Canadians feel the same way.

The workforce appears to be the most significant concern for Black Canadians.  Almost all Black Canadians surveyed (96 per cent) say that racism is a problem on the job, with 78 per cent believing that it is a severe problem.  In contrast, less than one in five White Canadians are of the same belief.  According to Statistics Canada, Black men earn sixty-six cents to every dollar compared to White men.

“I have been purposely passed over because of the colour of my skin,” said one survey participant. “[I] have been rudely spoken to not only because I’m Black, but also a Black woman.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is also an area where racial disparity is on full display.  Four out of ten East Asians say that they have experienced racial discrimination since the beginning of the pandemic. Almost half of East Asians surveyed, or 47 per cent, say that they are in fear of being threatened or attacked because of their race. 

Within the survey, Black Canadians gave a series of recommendations that they feel would best address systemic racism in Canada.  Among them, a call for more educational opportunities for Black Canadians, more anti-racism education in schools, and amendments to the Police Service Act to allow for independent watchdog agencies and harsher penalties for racist conduct by police.

“The Black Canadian National Survey is proof that systemic racism is an urgent national crisis in Canadian society,” said Kimberly Bennett, Communications Director at CRRF. “Now that we are armed with this evidence, we must work in earnest to dismantle the systemic racial disparities to show real change.”

About York University’s Institute for Social Research:

The Institute for Social Research houses the largest university-based survey research centre in Canada. For over 50 years, it has built a reputation for high-quality multi-platform surveys. The Institute undertakes research that engages interdisciplinary social issues through research methodologies that involve survey, quantitative, and mixed methods investigations. We provide expert consulting in social statistics, teach a range of short courses on statistics and social research, and operate York University’s Research Data Centre in association with Statistics Canada. 

About the Canadian Race Relations Foundation:

For the past 24 years, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation has been Canada’s leading organization dedicated to the elimination of racism and the promotion of harmonious race relations. Its underlying principle in addressing racism and racial discrimination emphasizes positive race relations and the promotion of shared Canadian values of human rights and democratic institutions. It strives to coordinate and cooperate with all sectors of society and develop partnerships with relevant agencies and organizations at the local, provincial and national levels.

About the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council:

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences. Through its Talent, Insight, and Connection programs, and through partnerships and collaborations, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world. SSHRC also oversees the delivery of a number of tri-agency programs, including the Canada Research Chairs and other research chairs programs, and the New Frontiers in Research Fund, which supports international, interdisciplinary, fast-breaking, and high-risk research.

Stay informed

Get the latest news. Learn more. Get involved.