Half of Chinese-Canadians say targets of COVID-19 discrimination: Poll

MONTREAL: Half of Chinese-Canadians say they have been targets of racial slurs and other discriminatory behaviour since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll released Monday.

Attacks, threats and graffiti directed at people of Chinese descent since the pandemic was declared amount to a “shadow pandemic,” the Angus Reid Institute said in a statement.

It has left many feeling dejected, believing that their compatriots do not view them as “fully Canadian,” the polling firm said.

And 61 per cent said they changed their daily routines to avoid run-ins and harassment, while just over half fear their children will be bullied over the COVID-19 outbreak when they return to school.

The survey of 516 Chinese-Canadians, conducted in partnership with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, found that half have been called names or insulted in recent months.

Forty-three per cent further reported being threatened or intimidated.

Three in 10 also said they were frequently exposed to racist graffiti or messaging on social media, or were made to feel as though they posed a threat to others’ health and safety.

More than 1.7 million Canadians or five per cent of the population are of Chinese descent.

Among those who responded to the Jun 15 to 18 online survey, 44 per cent were born in Canada, while 22 per cent immigrated from Hong Kong or mainland China.

More than 100,000 cases of new coronavirus have been reported in Canada since mid-March, including nearly 8,500 deaths.

Canada is closely influenced by media and social trends in the neighbouring United States, where Asian-American health care workers, for example, have reported a rise in bigoted incidents, according to The Washington Post.

President Donald Trump blames the crisis on China and for a long time insisted on calling the sickness the “Chinese virus,” a term which he repeated at a rally on Saturday, when he also called it “kung flu.”