A new report from Statistics Canada finds nine out of 10 Canadians say they have some or a great deal of confidence in the police. Just over 41 per cent said they have a great deal confidence, while another 49 per cent said they have some confidence.
But the findings come with several provisos, starting with the fact that the survey happened before the events of 2020, when “several high profile incidents” on both sides of the Canadian border led to calls for an end of what the report called “racial bias and misconduct by police towards Indigenous and racialized people in Canada.”
The report also points out that the pandemic prompted “new restrictions” on Canadians as well as new police enforcement roles in some areas.
While the report acknowledges this context, it argues that the findings will allow for future comparisons of how public perceptions of police may have changed following these events.
Looking broadly at the results, the report identifies four larger groups whose confidence in police appears lower than the overall findings, starting with Indigenous peoples. While an overall nine per cent of respondents report low confidence in police, that figure hit 16 per cent among Indigenous peoples with 30 per cent having a great deal of confidence, with the overall rate being just over 41 per cent.
Groups classified as visible minorities also reported lower confidence in police, just over one-third (35 per cent) of Canadians belonging to population groups designated as visible minorities reported having a great deal of confidence in the police in 2019, compared with 44 per cent among non-visible minority people.
Canadians with various disabilities also report lower confidence levels compared to the overall population.
One in three (33 per cent) Canadians with mental or cognitive disabilities (including mental health issues) and about two in five (38 per cent) with physical disabilities said they had a great deal of confidence in the police, significantly lower than among those with no disability (43 per cent), according to the report.
Confidence levels were also low among Canadians who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or otherwise not heterosexual, with bisexual respondents reporting the lowest confidence with 25 per cent.
The report also finds that confidence in the police rises with age, reaching a peak at the age of 75 and beyond with more than half (53 per cent) of Canadians in that category saying said they had a great deal of confidence.
Immigrants were as likely as non-immigrants to report a great deal of confidence in the police, with the proviso that established immigrants recorded lower levels of satisfaction with police performance than more recent immigrants.
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