Toronto saw one of its worst 12-month period for reported hate crimes last year, with the Jewish community the most targeted group in the city, according to a new report.
A detailed annual report of hate crimes that were reported to the Toronto Police Service in 2021 said that hate crimes rose by 22 per cent between 2020 and 2021.
“The number of reported hate crimes targeting individuals on the basis of ethnic or national origin was higher in 2021 than in any previous year since the Toronto Police Service began collecting this data in 1993,” the report said.
Last year saw 257 hate crimes reported in Toronto, significantly above the 10-year average of 162 per year.
The report will be considered by the Toronto Police Services Board on May 2.
In particular, the report noted a growing number of hate crimes perpetuated against East and Southeast Asian Canadians in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 16 per cent of hate crimes reported in 2021 were against East and Southeast Asians, compared to seven per cent in 2020. Twenty-four of those crimes were assault, followed by five cases of assault with a weapon or bodily harm.
“In all of these assault occurrences, the victims were subject to derogatory comments and were either punched, pushed, or spat on by the suspect(s) during the assault,” police said.
Four suspects specifically “expressed blame on China for the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the Toronto police report.
“In 2021, the global coronavirus health crisis and geopolitical events are believed to be key contributing factors to the increase in hate crime reporting,” Toronto Chief of Police James Ramer said in a note that accompanied the report.
A significant number of the hate crimes reported in Toronto were graffiti, a situation where limited or no suspect information can be available to police.
In recent months, Toronto police have reported multiple instances of antisemitic graffiti in Toronto. These includes cases of graffiti on a church in downtown Toronto and antisemitic messages at schools.
The most victimized group was the Jewish community, which suffered 56 hate crimes in 2021. There were 47 instances of hate crimes directed at Black people in Toronto and 41 at the East and Southeast Asian community.
The East and Southeast Asian communities were the most frequently victimized groups for assaults.