Sexual assault rate in 2021 highest since 1996, hate crimes up: Statistics Canada

By The Canadian Press and Cormac Mac Sweeny

Statistics Canada says the rate of police-reported sexual assault in Canada has reached its highest level since 1996.

There were more than 34,200 reports of sexual assault countrywide in 2021, an 18 per cent increase from 2020, according to newly released numbers from the agency.

While reports decreased in 2020, the rate of sexual assault has otherwise steadily increased for five years.

Statistics Canada says that despite an increase in the public discussion of issues around sexual violence, the number of sexual assaults reported to police is still likely to be a significant underestimate.

Meanwhile, the same data shows the number of hate motivated crimes reported to police in Canada in 2021 was more than 3,300, a 27 per cent increase from the year before and over 72 per cent jump from 2019.

Sexual assaults account for a third of an overall five per cent increase in reports of violent crime, with homicides, criminal harassment, and firearm offences on the rise.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) responded to the report, calling on the federal government to take more action to tackle hate-motivated crimes. The Black community was the most targeted group of hate crimes, according to the new statistics with 642 hate crimes reported last year.

The foundation wants the Trudeau government to invest $44 million annually into national funds for projects to combat hate, provide support programs for victims, and direct supports for uninsured costs to victims, such as mental health care, lost wages, and medical equipment.

They would also like to see an emergency fund created for communities that have to deal with hate-motivated mass violence.

The executive director of the foundation, Mohammed Hashim, said too many victims are unable to find support when they are the targets of hate.

“Every year we hear about the increase in hate and every year, we hear the condemnations. But that’s not enough. We can and must do more to help victims and communities deal with the painful aftermath,” he said in a statement.

The CRRF added the numbers reported Tuesday by Statistics Canada are not a full reflection of the reality of hate crimes in Canada.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said they deeply concerned that the Jewish community remained the religious group targeted for hate crimes in Canada, with 487 hate crimes reported 2021.

The Jewish community was the second most targeted group overall after the Black community.

“This disturbing trend clearly proves the need for proactive measures to stop the rising hate targeting diverse Canadians based on their identity,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO.

“This report should be a call to action for all Canadians to stand against antisemitism and all forms of hate,” added Fogel. “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.”

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