Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, as sexual assault, and the government enforced the law effectively. Penalties for conviction of sexual assault carry prison sentences of up to 10 years, and up to 14 years for sexual assault with a restricted or prohibited firearm. Penalties are between four years and life in prison for aggravated sexual assault with a firearm or committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organization. Most victims of sexual assault were women and girls.
The law provides protections against domestic violence for both men and women, although most victims were women and girls. Although the law does not define specific domestic violence offenses, assault, aggravated assault, intimidation, mischief, or sexual assault charges apply to acts of domestic violence. Persons convicted of assault receive up to five years in prison. Conviction of assault involving weapons, threats, or injuries carries prison terms of up to 10 years. Conviction for aggravated assault or endangerment of life carries prison sentences of up to 14 years. The government generally enforced the law effectively. Police received training in interacting with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, and agencies provided hotlines to report abuse.
In May the Sports Network (TSN) reported Hockey Canada reached a CAD 3.5 million ($2.5 million) settlement with a woman who filed a lawsuit alleging eight Canadian Hockey League players, including members of the World Junior Team, sexually assaulted her in London, Ontario. The following month, Sport Canada froze its federal funding of Hockey Canada and called for an investigation into whether public funds were used to pay the settlement. The prime minister stated Hockey Canada’s handling of the allegations was “unacceptable” and that parents had lost faith in the management of the organization.
Parliament also opened an investigation into Hockey Canada’s conduct that revealed a history of sexual misconduct cases going back to 1989 and that the organization spent CAD 7.6 million ($5.5 million) from a “National Equity Fund,” partially funded via player registration fees, to settle 21 sexual misconduct cases. Hockey Canada officials subsequently stated they would no longer use the fund for sexual misconduct settlements and would plan to address “systemic issues” in its hockey culture. In October, the chief executive officer and the entire board of directors of Hockey Canada resigned, but the board was to remain in place until the election of a new board.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C of women and girls and prosecutes the offense, including parents of children, as aggravated assault, with a maximum penalty if convicted of 14 years’ imprisonment. FGM/C occurred on occasion, predominantly in diaspora communities. While internal government reports leaked to media asserted FGM/C practitioners and victims often traveled to the country of the practitioners’ origin for the illegal procedure, officials also sought to prevent the admittance of FGM/C practitioners into the country. The law includes an exception for intersex girls, permitting infant genital surgery to “fix” their bodies to conform to binary notions of female bodies.
Sexual Harassment: The law offers protections from sexual harassment at the workplace but does not articulate a specific offense of “sexual harassment” outside of work. Instead, it criminalizes harassment (defined as stalking), punishable if convicted by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Conviction of sexual assault is punishable by imprisonment from 10 years for nonaggravated sexual assault to life imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault. Federal, provincial, and territorial human rights commissions have responsibility for investigating and resolving harassment complaints. Employers, companies, unions, educational facilities, professional bodies, and other institutions had internal policies against sexual harassment, and federal and provincial governments provided public education and guidance.
Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of the government.
Emergency contraception was available as part of family planning methods. No significant legal, social, or cultural barriers or government policies adversely affected access to contraception. Cost was cited as the most important barrier to contraception access in the country, particularly for young and low-income women and Indigenous women in northern or remote communities where menstrual products and other imported consumer goods cost significantly more than in southern and urban communities.
The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health-care services for survivors of sexual violence in hospitals and through dedicated sexual assault care centers, including emergency contraception as part of clinical management of rape.
Although the country’s maternal mortality rate in 2018 was low at 8.8 per 100,000 live births, a 2016 medical study reported Indigenous women had twice the risk of maternal mortality of the national average and a higher risk of adverse outcomes, including stillbirth, perinatal death, low-birth-weight infants, prematurity, and infant deaths.
The country’s birth rate among girls and women ages 15 to 19 was 6.3 per 1,000 in 2019, the latest available figure, but varied widely by province. In Ontario, a populous province with multiple urban centers, the birth rate was 4.3 per 1,000 females between ages 15 and 19. In the rural northern territory of Nunavut, where 86 percent of the population was Indigenous, the rate was 97.3 per 1,000. The country’s national statistical agency cited low income, overcrowded or inadequate housing, lack of a high school diploma, and lack of access to sexual health education and contraception as social determinants of higher birth rates among Indigenous adolescents.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status, and nationality laws, as well as in laws related to labor, property, inheritance, employment, access to credit, and owning or managing businesses or property. The government enforced these rights effectively.
Pandemic-related job losses were disproportionally experienced by women in the hospitality and retail sectors. The gender research firm Equileap reported women represented 35 percent of the overall workforce and 22 percent of the executive-level workforce.
First Nations women living on reservations (where land is held communally) have matrimonial property rights. First Nations may choose to follow federal law or may enact their own rules related to matrimonial real property rights and interests that respect their customs.
Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination
The constitution, the law, and federal and provincial human rights laws provide for equal rights, protect members of racial or ethnic minorities or groups from violence and discrimination, and provide redress. The federal Canadian Race Relations Foundation coordinated and facilitated public education and research and developed recommendations to eliminate racism and promote harmonious race relations. The government enforced the law effectively. In June, British Columbia enacted the country’s first Anti-Racism Data Act to allow government agencies to collect demographic information to identify gaps in programs and services and to help better meet the needs of Indigenous, Black, and racialized residents of the province.
There were reports of discrimination and violence against ethnic minority groups and reports of racial profiling by police. In July, the government’s national statistical agency reported 3,360 hate crimes in 2021, a 27 percent increase since 2020 and a 72 percent increase since 2019. The increase was largely the result of hate incidents targeting religious groups (up 67 percent from 2020) and sexual orientation (up 64 percent from 2020). In June, British Columbia’s Office of the Human Right Commissioner published its Survey on Racial Hate Crimes. The survey revealed 36 percent of respondents had witnessed hate crimes from March 2020 to December 2021. Of the respondents, 73 percent stated they did not report the incident and 68 percent believed it would make no difference whether they reported it or not.
In May an Asian man, age 87, was attacked with bear spray in the Chinatown neighborhood of Vancouver. Vancouver police believed the motive for the attack was racial discrimination and stated the suspect was arrested near the scene of the incident.
In April the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Vancouver Island launched an investigation into multiple incidents of graffiti vandalism, including one incident involving sexism; racism; antilesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) rhetoric; and Nazi swastikas. The RCMP stated it believed multiple persons were involved in these incidents and sought the public’s assistance in finding the individuals responsible. The investigation continued at the end of November.
In March Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched an investigation into allegations of systematic racism at two of its offices and ordered an audit of its Montreal call center responsible for handling calls from Afghan refugees. A former IRCC employee in the call center accused the agency of limiting promotions for employees of color and of racist attitudes towards immigration applicants from certain countries, particularly from Cuba and Nigeria. Additionally, an October 2021 IRCC report mentioned employees referring to a group of 30 African countries as the “Dirty 30.”
In May a report on Indigenous incarceration published by the federal Office of the Correctional Investigator revealed Indigenous women accounted for half of all federally incarcerated women, while representing only 5 percent of the population. Prime Minister Trudeau called the overrepresentation of Indigenous women in federal prisons “appalling” and stated the government would push to eliminate some mandatory sentences to help address the problem.
In June federal Auditor-General Karen Hogan issued a report detailing systemic racism by the CSC in federal prisons. The report found Black and Indigenous prisoners were more frequently placed in higher security institutions, compared to their White peers, and that they were not paroled as often when they first became eligible. The auditor-general found CSC employees assigned Indigenous offenders to unusually strict and restrictive prison conditions. The report indicated the CSC failed to develop a plan for its workforce to better reflect the diversity of the prison population. The report followed an investigation in 2020 by the Globe and Mail newspaper that showed the CSC’s risk assessment tools were systematically biased against Black and Indigenous persons. CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly agreed to the auditor-general’s six recommendations in the June report. Kelly also committed to reviewing the Custody Rating Scale – a tool used for deciding the prospective inmate’s security classification for the offender’s detention facility – and pledged to strengthen oversight in the CSC.
According to the government’s national statistical agency, Indigenous persons constituted approximately 5 percent of the national population and much higher percentages in the country’s three territories: Yukon, 22.3 percent; Northwest Territories, 49.6 percent; and Nunavut, 85.8 percent. Disputes regarding land claims, self-government, treaty rights, taxation, duty-free imports, fishing and hunting rights, and alleged police brutality and harassment were sources of tension. Indigenous persons remained underrepresented in the workforce, leadership positions, and politics. They were disproportionally affected by suicide, poverty, chronic health conditions, sexual violence, human trafficking, and other violent crime, and overrepresented on welfare rolls and in prison populations.
The law recognizes individuals registered under the Indian Act based on Indigenous lineage and members of a recognized First Nation as Status Indians; those individuals are eligible for a range of federal services and programs. Status and services are withheld from unregistered or nonstatus Indigenous persons who do not meet eligibility criteria for official recognition.
The law recognizes and specifically protects Indigenous rights, including rights established by historical land claims settlements. Treaties with Indigenous groups form the basis of the government’s policies in the eastern part of the country, but there were legal challenges to the government’s interpretation and implementation of treaty rights. Indigenous groups in the western part of the country that never signed treaties continued to claim land and resources, and many Indigenous groups continued to seek legal resolution of outstanding problems. As a result, the government’s policy toward Indigenous rights, particularly land claims, was affected by negotiation and legal challenges.
The law imposes statutory, contractual, and common-law obligations to consult with Indigenous groups on the development and exploitation of natural resources on land covered by treaty or subject to Indigenous land claims. According to a Supreme Court ruling, the federal government has the constitutional duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate Indigenous groups when the government contemplates actions that may adversely affect potential or established Indigenous rights, treaty rights, and Indigenous title.
Supreme Court decisions affirmed Indigenous title extends to territory used by Indigenous persons for hunting, fishing, and other activities prior to contact with Europeans, as well as to settlement sites. Provincial governments and the federal government may develop natural resources on land subject to Indigenous title but are obliged to obtain consent of the Indigenous titleholders in addition to existing constitutional duties to consult, and where necessary, accommodate Indigenous groups in matters that affect Indigenous rights. If governments cannot obtain consent, they may proceed with resource development only based on a “compelling and substantial objective” in the public interest, in which the public interest is proportionate to any adverse effect on Indigenous interests. The court has established that Indigenous titles are collective in nature.
Released on June 3, the third anniversary of the government’s final report in 2019 on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), British Columbia chronicled its efforts to combat MMIWG in A Path Forward: Priorities and Early Strategies for British Columbia. The provincial government reinforced its commitment to prevent, protect, and respond to violence against Indigenous women and girls, explaining these efforts as an important component of the province’s adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The June 3 report highlighted CAD 5.34 million ($3.8 million) in grants to target the issues to be managed by the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived both by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Births are registered immediately and are neither denied nor provided on a discriminatory basis.
Child Abuse: There are laws against child abuse, and the government generally enforced them effectively. On March 30, Prime Minister Trudeau announced CAD 2.9 million ($2.1 million) in federal funding to support First Nations communities in British Columbia whose children were taken from their families and sent to St. Joseph’s Mission residential school near Williams Lake. In January, the Williams Lake First Nation revealed preliminary findings that 93 sites of “potential human burials” were identified near that former residential school. In May, the government released the report Restoring Dignity: Responding to Child Abuse in Canadian Institutions. The report examined the history and legacy of the residential school system and provided recommendations on how to support survivors going forward.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The law establishes 16 years as the legal minimum age of marriage with parental consent.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age of consensual sex is 16. The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, sale, grooming, offering, or procuring children for commercial sex, and practices related to child pornography. Authorities enforced the law effectively. Children, principally teenage girls, were exploited in sex trafficking. The country was a destination for child sex tourism. Children from Indigenous communities, at-risk youth, runaway youth, LGBTQI+ children, and youth in the child welfare system were at high risk for trafficking. Persons convicted of child sex trafficking crimes faced between five and 14 years’ imprisonment. Persons convicted of receiving a financial or other material benefit derived from a child sex trafficking crime faced between two and 14 years’ imprisonment. Persons convicted of soliciting or obtaining the sexual services of a child younger than age 18 faced between six months’ and 10 years’ imprisonment.
The law prohibits accessing, producing, distributing, and possessing child pornography. Maximum penalties for conviction range from 18 months’ imprisonment for summary offenses to 10 years’ imprisonment for indictable offenses.
Approximately 1.25 percent of the population was Jewish. The government enforced laws against discrimination effectively.
The B’nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights received a total of 2,799 reports of antisemitic incidents in 2021, the latest available data, representing a 7.2 percent increase from 2020. Of this total, there were 2,460 incidents of antisemitic harassment in 2021. B’nai Brith also reported there were 75 cases of antisemitic violence, mainly related to violence that occurred during several large anti-Israel rallies, and 264 reports of antisemitic vandalism in 2021.
In June the federal government passed legislation that criminalizes Holocaust denial.
In May a Jewish man was assaulted by two men in Montreal as he returned from an event celebrating Israel’s independence. A video taken by a witness showed two men trying to wrestle a rolled-up Israeli flag away from the victim. When the two assailants let go of the flag, the video showed one of the attackers picking up a stick from the ground and striking the victim. Montreal police characterized the assault as a hate crime. Police arrested a male, age 15, in connection with the assault. The accused was released with conditions and was scheduled to appear in court at a later date. Police had not arrested a second suspect, and the investigation continued at year’s end.
In July Quebec Judge Manlio Del Negro claimed the link between Nazi ideology and the killing of Jews was not a widely accepted fact, and admonished Crown prosecutors in court for not submitting evidence or expert testimony that Nazi ideology led to the Holocaust. The rebuke occurred during the trial of a Montreal man accused of willfully promoting hatred against Jews. B’nai Brith Canada called for federal and provincial governments to provide mandatory training on the Holocaust and antisemitism to judges.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression, or Sex Characteristics
Criminalization: The law prohibits discrimination by state and nonstate actors against LGBTQI+ persons in housing, employment, nationality laws, and access to government services, including health care. The government enforced the law.
Violence against LGBTQI+ Persons: There were reports of violence against members of the LGBTQI+ community, but the government generally implemented laws criminalizing such acts. There were approximately 423 hate crimes across the country targeting sexual orientation, which rose above the previous peak of 265 in 2019. Approximately eight in 10 (77 percent) of these crimes specifically targeted the gay and lesbian community, while the remainder targeted the bisexual orientation (2 percent) and other sexual orientations, such as asexual, pansexual, or other nonheterosexual orientations (11 percent). An additional 10 percent were incidents where the targeted sexual orientation was reported as unknown.
In March a survey by Leger Marketing and by Foundation Emergence reported 65 percent of Quebec workers who identified as LGBTQI+ reported being the victims of workplace harassment, compared to 35 percent of the non-LGBTQI+ population. Five percent of LGBTQI+ respondents reported receiving threats, unwanted advances, inappropriate physical contact, or degrading propositions in exchange for favorable treatment. Fifteen percent responded they had quit a job because their workplace was not inclusive, and 21 percent considered quitting their jobs.
Discrimination: The law prohibits discrimination by state and nonstate actors based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics and recognized LGBTQI+ individuals, couples, and their families. The government enforced these laws effectively.
Availability of Legal Gender Recognition: The law permits nonbinary persons to identify their gender as “X” on official federal government documents such as passports, citizenship certificates, and permanent resident cards. On June 8, the Quebec National Assembly (a legislative body) adopted a bill allowing nonbinary persons to legally check the “X” gender box on official documents provided by the Quebec government. The law provides for persons who identify as nonbinary to identify themselves as a child’s “parent” rather than as the father or mother. The majority of provinces and territories offer “X” as a gender option for nonbinary individuals on legal provincial and territorial documents, except for Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and New Brunswick that offer only male or female as gender identifiers. Saskatchewan permits the issuance of a birth certificate with the gender marker hidden.
In most provinces and territories, a letter from a medical practitioner or health-care professional is required for a legal gender change. In Alberta, Ontario, and Manitoba, however, no supporting documentation or medical requirements are needed for a legal gender change.
Involuntary or Coercive Medical or Psychological Practices Specifically Targeting LGBTQI+ Individuals: On January 7, the country banned conversion therapy. The law makes it illegal to provide, promote, or profit from conversion therapy. It defines conversion therapy as any practice, treatment, or service designed to change or repress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. A 2021 study by the British Columbia-based nonprofit Community-Based Research Centre found 10 percent of sexual-minority men reported experiencing conversion therapy. Of that group, 72 percent reported receiving some form of conversion therapy before age 20.
Restrictions of Freedom of Expression, Association, or Peaceful Assembly: There were no restrictions on freedom of expression, association, or peaceful assembly with respect to LGBTQI+ issues.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. Persons with disabilities could access education, employment, health services, transportation, the judicial system, and other state services on an equal basis with others. Children with disabilities attended school with peers without disabilities. Federal and provincial governments effectively implemented laws and programs mandating access to public buildings, information, and communications in accessible formats for persons with disabilities, but regulation varies by jurisdiction. The government enforced these provisions effectively. The law requires employers and service providers to “identify, remove, and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas under federal jurisdiction.
Disability rights nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported persons with disabilities experienced higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, lower rates of job retention, and higher rates of poverty and economic marginalization than others. Persons with disabilities were at increased risk of human trafficking. Mental-disability advocates asserted the prison system was not sufficiently equipped or staffed to provide the care necessary for persons in the criminal justice system with mental disabilities, resulting in cases of segregation and self-harm.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
There were reports of societal violence and discrimination against members of minority, racial, religious groups not covered above, holy sites, and houses of worship, but the government generally effectively implemented the law criminalizing such behavior.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.