MONTREAL -- A new poll has found that acts of racism related to COVID-19 against people of Asian heritage is spreading in Canada’s largest cities.

According to a poll carried out by Corbett Communications, 14 per cent of respondents in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver either “believed that all Chinese or Asian people carry the coronavirus (four per cent) or were uncertain about that (10 per cent).

“With results like this, it is not surprising that we are seeing a growing increase in anti-Asian racism, likely provoked by COVID-19 fears and ignorance, but no less threatening for that,” said Susan Eng, director for the Chinese Canadian National Council of Social Justice (CCNC-SJ), which commissioned the poll.

The poll also found that one out of five people do not think it’s safe to sit next to an Asian or Chinese person on a bus if they have no mask (21 per cent).

“We should be able to say that everyone believes it is safe to sit next to a Chinese Canadian person on a bus, and we should be able to believe that no one thinks that literally all Chinese people carry the virus,” said CCNC-SJ president Amy Go.

The poll found almost 15 per cent (one in eight) of respondents were aware of racist incidents in their neighbourhood since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The anti-racism organization CRARR (Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations) along with a dozen community groups in Montreal began a campaign early in April drawing attention to racist acts and called on the federal government to support initiatives against anti-Asian racism.

The recent survey contacted 531 people in Toronto, 315 in Vancouver and 218 in Montreal on April 24.