Canadians Now Near-Unanimous Against Racism, Yet Two-Thirds (65%) of Non-White Canadians Say They Have Experienced Racism

Six in Ten (58%) Agree Institutions Such as Government and Schools Tolerate Racism, With No Difference in Attitudes Between White and Non-White Canadians

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
  • Chris Chhim Senior Account Manager, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, September 12, 2021 — A new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News shows that while nearly all Canadians agree that racism is a harmful thing, some Canadians, particularly those identifying as non-white, have a different story to tell when it comes to personal experiences with racism. However, the poll also found that many Canadians, no matter their self-identified background, not only acknowledge that racism does occur within the country’s institutions, but also that more should be done to curb hate speech online.

Canadians Agree Racism is Terrible, And Yet…

The good news is that an overwhelming majority (96%) agree that racism is a terrible thing, an eight-point increase from May 2019.[1] In addition, three-quarters (76%) say that they ‘strongly agree’ with this sentiment, an increase of fourteen points. This sentiment is deeply felt across all parts of the country, albeit a little weaker in Quebec, where two-thirds (67%) say they ‘strongly agree’ that racism is a terrible thing.

Canadians may be nearly unanimously against racism, but over a quarter (27%) agree (10% strongly/17% somewhat) that they have personally been victims of racism, a one-point decrease from July 2020[2] and up four points from May 2019. This proportion skyrockets to 65% among Canadians who identify in a way other than only ‘white’ (v. 15% among those who do).

There are also gender, age, and regional differences when it comes to experiencing racism. Younger or middle-aged Canadians are more likely to agree that they have been victims of racism (34% among 18-34, 34% among 35-54 v. 17% among 55+), perhaps reflecting not only an increasingly diverse Canadian population, but also greater awareness of what may be considered to be racism. Men are also more likely than women to agree that they have experienced racism (32% v. 22% among women), as are those living west of Quebec (38% in British Columbia, 29% in Alberta, 29% in Saskatchewan/Manitoba, 30% in Ontario v. 17% in Quebec, and 16% in Atlantic Canada). In fact, those in Quebec and Atlantic Canada are the most likely to ‘strongly disagree’ that they have been victims of racism (57% in both regions).

Acknowledging the Problem

One source of disconnect may lie in how different populations experience the world, be it through their interactions with schools, the legal system, or online forums. For instance, nearly 6 in 10 (58%) agree (12% strongly/46% somewhat) that Canadian institutions (such as the government, police, courts, education system, or journalists) tolerate racism, a ten-point increase from July 2020. There is no statistically significant difference between those identifying as only ‘white’ and those who do not exclusively identify as such on this measure, meaning that Canadians of all backgrounds are willing to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in some of their country’s institutions.

With the pandemic accelerating the already rapid pace with which Canadians are turning to social media to communicate, stay connected, and be informed, hate speech online is another area where individuals can experience racism. Nine in 10 (87%) agree that social media companies should do more to block or remove messages that spread hate or racism, with over half (56%) saying they ‘strongly agree’ with this statement. Women are more likely to agree, though men largely support this idea as well (91% v. 82%). Canadians of all ages also support the idea, with those aged 55+ years being more likely to agree (90% v. 84% among 18+, 85% among 35-54).

Half (51%) of Canadians also agree (9% strongly/42% somewhat) that the Trudeau government has done a good job of improving relationships among all Canadians, regardless of their ethnic, racial, or religious background, a three-point increase from July 2020. Those identifying in a way other than only ‘white’ are more likely to agree (57% v. 49% who do identify as such). Agreement with this statement varies according to region, ranging from 62% in Quebec to 40% in Alberta. Not surprisingly, this measure is also related to support for Trudeau in general; those who approve of the Trudeau government are much more likely to agree that they are doing a good job (83% v. 24% who disagree).


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 3-6, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 1,500 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here:

© 2021, Ipsos Limited Partnership

This polling release and the data contained in it are the sole and exclusive property of Ipsos. They are NOT designed to support any election outcome or prediction model and no license to use the polling release or the data is either granted or implied by their publication. Ipsos does not endorse, and has no responsibility for the accuracy of, the result of any predictive model that incorporates this polling data. Furthermore, any use of this information to produce polling aggregations or election models without Ipsos’ written permission will be considered a violation of our intellectual property, and Ipsos reserves the right to take appropriate legal action. Detailed tabular data tables can be found here:

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001
[email protected]


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The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
  • Chris Chhim Senior Account Manager, Public Affairs