Newcomers fear pandemic to spur discrimination


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A NATIONAL survey shows 64 per cent of new Canadians are worried the global coronavirus pandemic will lead to a rise in discrimination in the country.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/06/2020 (1080 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A NATIONAL survey shows 64 per cent of new Canadians are worried the global coronavirus pandemic will lead to a rise in discrimination in the country.

The survey — conducted by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) and market research company Leger — polled 2,471 racialized and non-racialized Canadians and new citizens about their concerns and experiences with discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent.

“We were hearing a lot of anecdotes from immigrants, from newcomers that they’re feeling targeted, that there is a rise in racial discrimination,” said Yasir Naqvi, ICC chief executive officer. “We were really heartbroken by looking at the numbers that we got.”

In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the findings indicate 62 per cent of newcomers are concerned about an increase in prejudice and discrimination as a result of COVID-19 compared to 43 per cent among the general public. Respondents were asked to self-identify their citizenship status and racial background.

The survey also suggests new citizens — 45 per cent of whom identified as essential workers — are more concerned about discrimination than the general population while running errands, taking public transit and going out in public. One in 10 Canadians and new citizens reported feeling judged, targeted or discriminated against in public since the pandemic began, while 30 per cent of Canadians of colour reported these kinds of experiences.

Fear of discrimination also appears to be affecting preventive health behaviours. Racialized and new citizens expressed more concern than the general population about discrimination while wearing a mask in public, talking to co-workers about possible symptoms of illness or trying to get tested for COVID-19.

“To us, it demonstrates that this pandemic is having a very significant impact on the personal well-being and health of new Canadian citizens proportionally higher than all Canadian citizens,” Naqvi said. “Our concern is that this health pandemic is leading to a pandemic of racism, which is a far more lasting impact on the well-being and inclusive nature of Canada.”

Twitter: @evawasney

Eva Wasney

Eva Wasney
Arts Reporter

Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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