SOURCE: Peak Communicators Ltd.

Peak Communicators Ltd.

SOURCE: NRG Research Group

NRG Research Group

August 24, 2016 10:00 ET

Syrian Refugee Resettlement Positively Impacts Canadians' Perceptions of Race Relations

VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - August 24, 2016) - A new poll by NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators reveals that 41 percent of Canadians see the way Canada has welcomed Syrian refugees into the country as having a positive impact on race relations. This research is being released six months after the completion date of February 29th, 2016, when 25,000 Syrian government-supported and privately sponsored refugees were resettled into Canada.

From the remaining respondents, 26 percent of Canadians saw the movement of Syrian refugees into Canada as having a negative impact on race relations; 27 percent say they have perceived no impact and 4 percent are unsure. Women are more likely than men to say Syrian refugees had a very positive impact on race relations in Canada (16 percent of women versus 11 percent of men).

Race relations in Canada

However, the poll also reveals that three-quarters (77 percent) of Canadians still see racism as a problem in society today (29 percent say it is a big problem, 48 percent see racism as somewhat of a problem).

When asked if tensions between racial and ethical groups had changed over the last ten years, the largest proportion of Canadians -- 41 percent -- say tensions have increased in Canada. Only 15 percent believe tensions have decreased, while 35 percent feel they have stayed the same.

Roland Pajares, a lead researcher on this study with NRG Research Group, says, "People responded to the survey just after the devastating death of Colten Boushie in Saskatchewan that sparked racial tension. Three in ten residents of the Western Prairies (Saskatchewan and Alberta) specifically said race relations in their community had deteriorated over the last ten years."

Race relations in Canada versus U.S.

In comparing the research to a Kaiser/CNN study conducted with Americans in November 2015:

  • Racism is perceived as more of a problem in the United States, with 83 percent of Americans saying that racism is a problem.
  • The intensity of the issue is also higher in the U.S., with 29 percent saying it's a big problem in Canada versus 49 percent saying it's a big problem in the U.S.
  • Americans are more likely to say that individuals themselves have the largest role in developing positive race relations in their country (84 percent ascribe individuals a "major role" in Canada, 96 percent in U.S.).
  • Respondents in both countries say that news media shoulders some of the responsibility (66 percent say "major role" in Canada, 69 percent in the United States).
  • Canadians are closely aligned with Americans by saying that racial tensions have not increased in their community as much as other parts of their country (22 percent in Canada, 23 percent in U.S.).

"Racism is perceived as a bigger issue in America than in Canada. We can see glimpses of this disparity being heightened by recent news stories coming out of Baton Rouge, Baltimore, and many other cities in the United States," says Roland Pajares. "What's interesting is both Canadians and Americans say racism across the board has increased in their respective countries, but not as much in their local community. This may be a result of the responsibility news media can play in developing positive race relations."

These results are from a provincially-representative Canada-wide study of 1,000 online respondents conducted by NRG Research Group on August 9 and 10, 2016*.

Notes to editor:

*One thousand Canadians were asked the following four questions:

Q1. How big of a problem is racism in our society today?

  1. 29 percent say a big problem; 48 percent say somewhat of a problem; 15 percent say a small problem; 3 percent say not a problem at all; 3 percent say unsure
  2. 34 percent of women say a big problem versus 24 percent of men
  3. 25 percent of those aged 55+ say a big problem compared with 33 percent of those 18-34 and 31 percent of those 35-54
  4. 41 percent of women aged 18-34 say a big problem
  5. 46 percent of Saskatchewan residents, 35 percent of Manitoba residents, 34 percent of Ontario residents, say a big problem

Q2. During the last ten years, do you think tensions between racial and ethnic groups in each of the following have increased, decreased, or stayed about the same?

  1. Canada
    1. 41 percent say increased; 15 percent say decreased; 35 percent say stayed the same; 9 percent say unsure
    2. 50 percent of women aged 55+; 44 percent of men aged 55+; 43 percent of men aged 35-54 say increased
    3. 33 percent of those aged 18-34 say increased compared with 41 percent of those 35-54 and 47 percent of those 55+
    4. 54 percent of Alberta residents, 45 percent of Ontario residents, and 42 percent of Saskatchewan residents say increased
  2. Your community
    1. 22 percent say increased; 17 percent say decreased; 50 percent say stayed the same; 10 percent say unsure
    2. 13 percent of those aged 55+ say decreased compared with 21 percent of those 18-34 and 18 percent of those 35-54
    3. 30 percent of Alberta residents, 28 percent of Saskatchewan residents, and 24 percent of Ontario residents say increased

Q3. How much of a role, if any, do you think each of the following should play in developing positive race relations in Canada?

  1. The government
    1. 62 percent say major role; 25 percent say minor role; 8 percent say no role at all; 4 percent say unsure
    2. 66 percent of women say major role versus 58 percent of men
    3. 74 percent of women aged 55+, 67 percent of men aged 55+, and 62 percent of women aged 35-54 say a major role
  1. Individuals themselves
    1. 84 percent say major role; 10 percent say minor role; 3 percent say no role at all; 2 percent say unsure
    2. 88 percent of women say major role versus 80 percent of men
    3. 89 percent of women aged 35-54, 88 percent of men aged 55+, and 88 percent of women aged 18-34 say a major role
    4. 92 percent of BC residents and 90 percent of Atlantic residents say a major role
  2. The police
    1. 60 percent say major role; 26 percent say minor role; 10 percent say no role at all; 3 percent say unsure
    2. 66 percent of women say major role versus 54 percent of men
    3. 74 percent of women aged 55+, 62 percent of men aged 55+, and 62 percent of women aged 18-34 say a major role
    4. 65 percent of Quebec residents and 63 percent of Ontario residents say a major role
  3. The news media
    1. 66 percent say major role; 21 percent say minor role; 9 percent say no role at all; 3 percent say unsure
    2. 71 percent of women say major role versus 62 percent of men
    3. 72 percent of women aged 18-34 and 71 percent of women aged 55+, 69 percent of men aged 55+ and 69 percent of women aged 35-54 say a major role

Q4. "Canada has welcomed many Syrian refugees over the last 12 months. What kind of impact has this had on your perceptions of race relations in Canada?"

  1. 14 percent say very positive impact; 28 percent say somewhat positive impact; 27 percent say no impact; 18 percent say somewhat negative impact; 8 percent say negative impact; 4 percent say unsure
  2. 47 percent of those aged 18-34 say overall positive impact compared with 39 percent of those 35-54 and 40 percent of those 55+
  3. 19 percent of women aged 18-34 and 16 percent of women aged 55+ say a very positive impact
  4. 20 percent of Atlantic residents and 17 percent of Ontario residents say a very positive impact

NRG Research Group is a leading Canadian public affairs and market research company, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg.

Peak Communicators is one of the largest independent full-service public relations agency in Western Canada with a specialty in media relations, communication strategy, media training and digital media.

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