TORONTO — Reported hate crimes in Canada skyrocketed 47 percent last year, the highest number since comparable data first become available in 2009, according to recently released figures from Statistics Canada.
Law enforcement agencies reported that 2,073 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 1,409 in 2016, an increase fueled by incidents primarily taking place in Ontario and Quebec targeting Canada’s Jewish, Muslim, and black populations.
Although it marked the fourth consecutive year that hate crimes have increased in the country, this uptick represented the largest year-on-year jump during that period.
‘‘Ordinarily, I would give the caveat that any increase in crime statistics could be the result of better police recording and public reporting,’’ said Barbara Perry, a criminology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who studies hate crimes. ‘‘But this kind of leap means more is going on than just changes in recording behavior.’’
She added that the rise is also reflected in an increase in media coverage spotlighting hate crimes as well as in figures kept by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and B’nai Brith Canada, which track anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents, respectively.
Hate crimes targeting religious groups accounted for 41 percent of all hate crimes in Canada in 2017 and were up 83 percent from 2016, according to the data.
In Quebec, reported hate crimes against Muslims peaked in February 2017, the month after a 28-year-old man, allegedly animated by far-right extremist figures online, opened fire on a Quebec City mosque, killing six people and injuring 19 others.
According to the Statistics Canada data, though there were increases in both violent and nonviolent hate crimes in 2017, most of the upsurge was in the latter, including crimes such as public mischief, vandalism, and public incitement of hatred.
Experts say that those types of hate crimes should not be dismissed.
‘‘There’s a tendency to think that they are very minor because no one is physically hurt,’’ Perry said. ‘‘But because they are targeted at entire communities their audience is broader, and this can have serious impacts.’’