The murder of George Floyd and subsequent global anti-racism protests are changing perceptions about racism and discrimination in Canada, according to a new study conducted by the Environics Institute in collaboration with Vancity, Century Initiative, and the University of Ottawa.

The findings are based on the results of two public opinion surveys completed in August with 3,008 participants, and in September, with 2,000 participants.

The responses were then compared to data collected in 2019.

According to the survey:

  • 63 per cent of Canadians said discrimination against Chinese-Canadians is “no longer a problem” in 2019, but recent headlines about racism and stereotyping of Chinese individuals during the pandemic have caused that number to fall dramatically. In 2020, only 31 per cent of the respondents agreed that discrimination against Chinese-Canadians was no longer an issue.
  • More Canadians are acknowledging anti-Black racism exists in the country as well. In 2019, 47 per cent of the respondents said anti-Black racism was no longer an issue in Canada. By 2020, that number had dropped to 20 per cent.
  • The study finds little change in the “overall level of agreement that discrimination against Indigenous Peoples is longer a problem,” the paper reads. The level of agreement sits at 20 per cent, down 3 points since 2019.

The changes in perception appear to be taking place across the board, the study notes.

“Over the past decade, Canadians have also grown more supportive of racial minorities. A growing proportion agree that it is more difficult for non-white people to be successful in Canadian society, while fewer feel that ethnic and racial groups need to take more responsibility for solving their own economic and social problems,” reads an excerpt from the report.

“Again, there is a notable similarity on these questions between the views of racialized Canadians and those who identify as white.”


Data from 2010 suggests confidence in local police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has also fallen. In 2010, 88 per cent of Canadians trusted local police and 84 per cent the RCMP. The new survey finds that 73 per cent of Canadians have lost some confidence in the police. 

Men were much more likely to trust the police than women, at 63 per cent and 51 per cent respectively. About 72 per cent of Federal Conservative party supporters expressed confidence in police, compared to 52 per cent of Liberal supporters, 46 per cent of NDP supporters, and 41 per cent of Green party supporters.


The findings signify a widespread shift in perception after years of mainstream denials that racism is a problem in Canada. That’s despite the findings of a December 2019 national survey, which polled 3,111 Canadians aged 18 and included an “over-sample size” of participants identifying as Chinese, Black, South Asian, and/or Indigenous.

According to the findings:

  • 54 per cent of Canadians identifying as Black and 53 per cent identifying as Indigenous have personally experienced discrimination due to race or ethnicity, either occasionally or regularly. The sentiment was shared by 38 per cent of South Asians, 36 per cent of Chinese, 32 per cent of other ethnic groups, and 12 per cent of whites.
  • 81 per cent of all participants described positive race relations in their communities.
  • More than half were either somewhat or very optimistic about the future of race relations. Young Canadians were the most optimistic.

In June, Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged the presence of systemic racism in the Canadian province, backpedaling on previous comments that deny a “deep-rooted” issue north of the U.S. border.

“Thank God we’re different than the United States, and we don’t have the systemic, deep roots they’ve had for years,” Ford previously said, distinguishing the supposed differences between the two countries as “night and day.”

Ford later said his comments were “spun out of context,” adding that Ontario has had systemic racism for “decades.” 

With files from Daksha.

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