Six in Ten (60%) Canadians See Racism as a Serious Problem Facing the Country

One-Quarter (24%) Report an Increase in Racism over Past Few Years

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  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, September 3, 2021 — A recent Ipsos poll carried out on behalf of Global News has found that a majority (60%) of Canadians believe to some degree that racism is a serious problem facing the country. Though unchanged from the same time last year, this proportion is still considerable jump from Canadians’ perceptions of racism pre-pandemic. Increased awareness of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, continued mistreatment against Indigenous Canadians, domestic terrorism against Muslim Canadians, and discrimination against Black Canadians have certainly contributed to the idea that Canada is not making much progress in tackling racism.

In order to add more nuance to the findings, the poll also asked respondents select with which ethnic or cultural background(s) they self-identify. Not surprisingly, perceptions of racism in Canada differ between those who identify as being only ‘white’ and those who do not.


Canadians of All Backgrounds Still See Racism as a Serious Problem

When asked how serious of a problem they consider racism to be in Canada today, six in ten (60%) believe in some way that racism is a serious problem. This includes 4% who say that racism is ‘the most serious problem facing Canada,’ another two in ten (19%) who say that it is ‘one of the most serious problems,’ and nearly four in ten (27%) who say that it is a ‘fairly serious problem.’ This proportion remains unchanged since July 2020 but is a double-digit increase from the end of 2019 (43%, +17).

There is little difference between those self-identifying as only ‘white’ and those who do not when it comes to thinking that racism is a serious problem in general (60% among those self-identifying as only ‘white’ v. 64% among those who do not). However, within this aggregated measure, Canadians who self-identify in a way other than exclusively ‘white’ tend to see the issue as slightly more pressing. Those who identify in a way other than only ‘white’ are more likely to say racism is ‘one of the most serious problems’ facing the country (27% v. 17%), whereas those identifying as only ‘white’ are more likely to choose a less intense stance, saying it is a ‘fairly serious problem’ (40% v. 31%).


Views on Racism in Canada[1]










Serious problem (net)





Most serious problem facing Canada





One of the most serious problems





A fairly serious problem










Not serious problem (net)





A minor problem compared to other issues





Not really a problem in Canada today
















A third (33%) think racism is not a serious problem, with a quarter (25%) saying it is ‘a minor problem compared to other issues’ and 8% saying it is ‘not really a problem in Canada today.’ Though a relatively small proportion, men are more likely than women to say that racism is ‘not really a problem in Canada today’ (11% among men v. 5% among women). Furthermore, those in Quebec are more likely to say that it is not really a problem (13%).

The remaining 7% of respondents are unsure as to whether racism is a serious problem in Canada. Among 18-34 year-olds, this proportion climbs to 12% (v. 5% of 35-54 year-olds and 4% among 55+ year-olds).


More Canadians Believe Racism Has Increased Over Past Five Years

When asked whether racism has increased in their community over the past five years, a quarter (24%) of Canadians say there has been an increase, a four-point increase from May 2019 (20%). Among those who self-identify to some extent as not exclusively ‘white,’ this proportion climbs to 33% (compared to 21% among those self-identifying as only ‘white’). Furthermore, those living in British Columbia are more likely to say that there has been an increase in racism over the past five years (37%).

Whatever level of racism they perceive there to be in the country already, half (51%) of Canadians believe that there has been neither an increase nor decrease (-6 from May 2019), with those identifying as exclusively ‘white’ more likely to believe so (55%, v. 44% among those not identifying as exclusively ‘white’). One in ten (10%) think there has been a decrease over the last five years (-1), with the remaining 15% say they don’t know (+3).

Canadians aged 18-34 years are more likely to say there has been a decrease in racism in their community over the past five years (18%, vs. 6% among 35-54; 6% among 55+). Diving a little deeper into this age group, those aged 18-24 years are also more likely to say they don’t know (15%). These figures about how young Canadians perceive racism in their immediate surroundings possibly speaks to not only the kind of company young Canadians may be keeping, but also to their being too young to meaningfully evaluate of how racism may have changed over the past five years.

The latest figures point to the idea that Canadians have not been making much progress lately when it comes to addressing racism; however, this is not a recent trend. Previous Ipsos polling using the exact same question shows that 17% in 1992 believed that there has been an increase in racism and that 19% in 2017 believed that there had been an increase.


About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 27 and 30, 2021 on behalf of Global News.  A sample of n = 1,501 was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and 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]


About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

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[1] Previous Ipsos polling can be found here: July 2020, December 2019, and May 2019.

The author(s)
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs