Are we all equal from the start? The answer is simple: no. Due to various factors, not all members of society are treated equally, and current events remind us every day of the discrimination certain groups of citizens face all around the world.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canada Act 1982) states that every individual, regardless of their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability, is equal in the eyes of the law. Nevertheless, people living in Canada are not always treated equally.
Race, ethnicity and hate-related incidents
In any society, difference is a source of collective enrichment. Unfortunately, it also breeds hate. According to the results of the 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety, more than half (54%) of respondents who reported having been victims of hate-related incidents said those incidents were related to their race or ethnic origin. Other reasons commonly perceived as the root of hate-related incidents included language (32%), sex (24%), disability (23%), and religion (19%).
Black people and discrimination in everyday life
According to the 2019 GSS, nearly half (46%) of Black people aged 15 years and older reported experiencing at least one form of discrimination in the five years preceding the survey compared with 16% of the non-Indigenous, non-racialized population.
For the GSS, respondents who experienced discrimination also reported the situations in which the discrimination occurred, for example, at a store, bank, or restaurant; while attending school or classes; at work; when dealing with police; when dealing with the courts; when crossing the border into Canada, or in any other situation.
Of the 46% of Black people, 51% experienced discrimination more often in a store, bank, or restaurant than non-Indigenous, non-racialized people (28%). The same was true when dealing with police, where the proportion of Black people who reported discrimination was four times higher (16%) than among non-Indigenous, non-racialized people (4%).
Women versus men
Nearly half (49%) of Black women had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment in the five years prior to the survey, as did 4 out of 10 Black men (42%). In contrast, 20% of women and 13% of men who were not Indigenous nor racialized experienced discrimination.
Discrimination and age
Among the relatively younger population, discrimination was more frequent. More than half (53%) of Black people aged 15 to 44 years had been victims of discrimination in the five years preceding the survey, compared with about one-third (31%) of Black people aged 45 years and older.
Serious problems or disputes
Do you have a problem with your job? People owe you money? Are you having trouble with your immigration application? These are just a few examples of situations where Black people were more likely to experience serious problems or disputes. According to data from the Canadian Legal Problems Survey, more than one-quarter (26%) of Black adults had experienced at least one serious problem from 2019 to 2021, a higher proportion than that of people belonging to another racialized group (19%) or non-Indigenous, non-racialized people (17%).
Regardless of the population group, just under 9 in 10 of those who experienced a serious problem took some sort of action to resolve it. Among Black people, 86% reported taking action, such as searching the Internet (44%), obtaining advice from a friend (50%) or contacting a legal professional (28%) to find a solution.
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