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When asked if they have trust in the police and justice system, Canadians said “yes” about most institutions, with only the criminal courts failing to reach a majority of support.John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The majority of Canadians view their police forces favourably, but confidence erodes when members of visible minorities are polled, according to a new survey from Angus Reid.

When asked if they have trust in the police and justice system, Canadians said "yes" about most institutions, with only the criminal courts failing to reach a majority of support. Sixty-eight per cent of white people expressed confidence in police while 58 per cent of members of visible minorities did so.

Support for the police and justice system appears to be growing, with a small increase from 2014 and a near-spike from the lows of 2012, when none of the institutions broke 40 per cent support.

Quebec led the way in all categories, with support often more than 10 percentage points higher than in other provinces. Atlantic Canada and British Columbia had the lowest levels of trust.

The survey of 1,505 residents from across the country comes at a time of greater scrutiny of policing. Most recently, Black Lives Matter Toronto staged a sit-in during the Toronto Pride Parade on July 3 to protest against what they argue are discriminatory policing practices targeting black residents in the city.

The results hinted at the frustrations: Of those surveyed, 58 per cent of members of visible minorities trusted the institutions, 10 percentage points lower than white respondents.

While there is a discrepancy between whites and members of visible minorities in Canada, the results are magnified in the United States, where the summer has seen racial tensions simmer in wake of two recent shootings of black men by police. Only 39 per cent of members of visible minorities express confidence in the police, compared with 62 per cent of white residents, a Gallup poll found.

Despite the largely positive Canadian results, the Angus Reid survey also highlighted troubling data about the challenges facing members of visible minorities in the country.

Over a 10-year period, the black inmate population in Canada has surged 60 per cent. In Toronto, where black people make up less than 10 per cent of the population, 41 per cent of youth in child welfare services are black. In Vancouver, close to 60 per cent of people in poverty are members of visible minorities; in Toronto, it's 62 per cent.

The poll is accurate to within three percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Results at a glance

Confidence in Canadian justice system

  • Provincial police (Ontario, Quebec) 70%
  • RCMP 66%
  • Municipal police 65%
  • Supreme Court of Canada 67%
  • Criminal courts in province 44%

Notable Results

  • British Columbians has the least confidence (54%) in the RCMP and Saskatchewan (78%) and Quebec (77%) have the most.
  • Canadians have more confidence in their police and court systems than their American counterparts.
  • 57 per cent of Canadians express confidence in the Supreme Court of Canada, an increase of nine percentage points from 2014.
  • Criminal courts have the lowest level of support, at 44 per cent.
  • The crime rate has dropped steadily since 2006, but only 10 per cent of Canadians are aware of this.