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Anti-Asian bias alive and well in Canada's biggest cities, poll finds

Last Updated Apr 28, 2020 at 9:09 pm PDT

People board a bus at the Commercial-Broadway station in Vancouver. (Monika Gul, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

One-in-five don't believe it's safe to sit next to an Asian or Chinese person on a bus if they're not wearing mask: poll

New poll finds four per cent of respondents believe all Chinese or Asian people are carrying the COVID-19 virus

Among those surveyed, 13 per cent said they are aware of incidents of racial bias because of COVID-19

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It seems racist attitudes are very much still present in Canada’s biggest cities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One-in-five respondents in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal said they do not believe it’s safe to sit next to an Asian or Chinese person on a bus if they’re not wearing a mask, according to new research from the Chinese Canadian National Council For Social Justice. A whole quarter of people polled said they “don’t know” if it’s safe to do so.

Four per cent of respondents said they think all Chinese or Asian people are carrying the COVID-19 virus, while 10 per cent said they “were uncertain about that.”

Susan Eng, the director of the CCNC-SJ, says with results like this, it’s not surprising we are seeing an increase in anti-Asian racism.

“Canada’s leaders must stand up and unequivocally denounce every such racist incident and ill-informed belief, lest this behaviour is deemed acceptable and others are invited to do the same,” Eng says in a release.

Among the more than 1,100 people surveyed, 13 per cent said they are aware of incidents of racial bias in their neighbourhoods because of the novel coronavirus.

“We should be able to say that everyone believes it is safe to sit next to a Chinese Canadian person on a bus. And we should be able to believe that no one thinks that literally all Chinese people carry the virus,” Amy Go, president of the CCNN-SJ, says in the release. “This is not an exercise in balancing percentages of bias and ignorance. As Canadians of many ethnicities and heritages, we are all in the fight against COVID-19 together — and many of us are also on the frontlines.”

The survey comes just days after a Conservative MP questioned the loyalty of Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, calling for her resignation.

His comments were condemned by a number of opposition MPs, however, Tory Leader Andrew Scheer refused to provide a comment on what had been said.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Police Department said earlier this month it had seen an uptick in the number of racially-motivated crimes, with almost half of cases in March reported as anti-Asian.