The narrative perpetuated by the Canadian federal government and various institutions that Canada is systemically racist simply isn’t true, a study finds.
The study, published by Matthew Lau of the Aristotle Foundation for Public Policy Oct. 30, directly counters past comments from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that there are “profound systemic inequities and disparities” ingrained in the nation’s core institutions.
Lau’s research, titled “Systemic racism claims in Canada: A fact-based analysis,” aimed to answer two questions: Is there evidence to back up claims such as these that Canada today is systemically racist? Are government programs and strategies likely to reduce the incidence or mitigate the effects of racism in society?
“The answer to both is a resounding ‘no,’” said the report.
Income disparities analyzed in the study demonstrate that many visible minority groups outearn the white population, contradicting the narrative of widespread disadvantage.
After accounting for employment and sociodemographic factors, only four out of twenty minority groups exhibited lower earnings than their white counterparts, while five minority groups had statistically higher earnings.
“The theory that Canadian institutions are rigged to benefit the white population and disfavour visible minorities therefore finds little support in the income statistics,” noted Lau.
In terms of education, Lau’s research reveals that many visible minority groups achieve higher levels than the white population, with many Asian populations obtaining bachelor’s degrees or higher well above the national average. This observation clashes with the assumption that academic institutions disadvantage visible minorities.
This finding is “not what one would expect if Canadian institutions put visible minorities at a disadvantage,” Lau said.
Furthermore, Lau’s analysis of occupational disparities shows that many visible minority populations are overrepresented in professional occupations such as medicine and engineering.
For example, while South Asians in Canada comprise 7.3% of the working-age population, they make up 12.4% of engineers, 19% of computing professionals, and 12.5% of doctors.
The Chinese population had a similar overrepresentation in these professions, being more than doubly represented compared to their population size.
Public school test scores also debunk the notion of systemic racism in education.
“Our system has been built upon colonial structures meant to uphold white supremacy,” said a booklet published by the Peel District School Board.
However, grade six students from East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds all outperform white students on average on the EQAO mathematics tests at the Peel District School Board.
Despite this, an executive with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario wrote in the union magazine that “EQAO tests are culturally and racially biased, promoting a Eurocentric curriculum and way of life that privileges white students.”
“Student test scores data are generally contrary to the notion that public schools are systematically racist against visible minorities,” said Lau.
When examining income disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, Lau points out that factors like location and education are the main drivers of this disparity rather than systemic discrimination.
Controlling for education and work status, Indigenous Canadians earn close to the same incomes as non-Indigenous Canadians, further dispelling the myth of systemic discrimination.
“If the typical anti-racism activist in Canada today is looking for widespread institutional or systemic racism of the kind the federal government describes, they will not find it,” said Lau.
Disparities in income, educational attainment, and other outcomes do not imply the existence of such discrimination, according to the study.
The data on disparities in income, educational attainment, occupational outcomes, and public school test scores show that, on average, Asians are doing better than the white population.
“More capitalism and freer markets is the antidote to unfair discrimination — not government regulation and control,” wrote Lau.
Gary Becker, Milton Friedman’s student and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economics, showed that discrimination will be less pervasive in more competitive industries because companies that discriminate will lose market share to those that do not. Becker presented evidence that discrimination is more pervasive in more-regulated, and therefore less-competitive industries, noted the study.
“The solution prescribed by those who make claims of widespread systemic racism — increasing top-down government interventions — is the wrong one and if implemented would do more harm than good,” concluded Lau in the study.