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Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada in 2019, JNS reported on Tuesday, citing the newly released Canadian government’s annual survey of police-reported hate crimes.

The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

In particular, some 608 hate crimes targeted religion, down 7 percent compared to 2018. This number, however, remains higher than those recorded before 2017, when it hit its peak at 842 incidents.

Jewish Canadians were targeted 296 times in 2019—a 20 percent decrease from 372 in 2018, the report found.

Despite the decrease, attacks on Jewish Canadians still occurred on average five times per week during 2019 with Jews comprising some 50 percent of overall religious hate crimes, Muslims at 10 percent, and Catholics and other religions at 3 percent each.

Responding to the report, Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said, “We are concerned that incidents of hate crime increased again in Canada in 2019, and exceeded the 10-year average. The 7% overall increase appears to be attributable to attacks motivated by sexual orientation and race or ethnicity.”

“Among the troubling aspects of the report is the 8% increase in violent hate crimes which now account for 44% of the total. Also troubling are the record high number of attacks motivated by sexual orientation,” he added.

“It is important to note that this is 2019 data and does not reflect the impact Covid-19 has had on our society. That data is not yet available, but Statistics Canada does cite a crowdsourcing survey that suggests that 2020 will see a significant increase in hate crimes targeting visible minorities, particularly Canadians of Asian ethnicity.”

“Though we welcome the 20% decrease in crimes targeting the Jewish community, Jewish Canadians still remain the most targeted religious minority for hate crime and second overall. Jewish Canadians were targeted 296 times in 2019. Even with a 20% year over year decrease, attacks on Jewish Canadians still occurred on average five times per week during 2019. Those numbers are particularly troubling since the Jewish community accounts for only 1% of the population and yet are the targets of 17% of police-reported hate crime,” said Koffler Fogel.

“Although Canada remains one of the best countries in the world in which to be Jewish, or any other minority for that matter, these numbers are troubling and should concern all Canadians of good will,” he concluded.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise in Canada in recent years. In 2019, the League for Human Rights, part of B’nai Brith Canada, recorded 2,207 anti-Semitic incidents.

Tuesday’s report comes days after Toronto Police launched an investigation after a bus shelter in Toronto was vandalized with a poster promoting anti-Semitic blood libel on the eve of Passover.

Last May, a swastika and the words "all heil Hitler" were found drawn in chalk on a Toronto school located in an area with a large Jewish population.

Last April, a spate of anti-Semitic graffiti in the downtown Toronto area appeared to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on “the Jews.”