Homicide rate up for third year in a row in Canada

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Homicide rate up for third year in a row in Canada

Police across the country recorded 788 homicides in Canada in 2021, 29 more than in 2020.

Police services across the country recorded 788 homicides committed in 2021, 29 more murders than in 2020 across Canada. This corresponds to a 3% increase in the national homicide rate, which now stands at 2.06 murders per 100,000 population, its highest level since 2005.

This is the third year in a row that the homicide rate has increased in Canada.

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According to data compiled by Statistics Canada, the increase in homicides in the country is mainly attributable to a notable increase in murders last year in Ontario (277 homicides; +37) and in British Columbia (125 homicides; +25).

In Quebec, 88 homicides were reported in 2021, 1 more than in 2020.

Although Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia show the numbers rates of homicides, when provincial population size is taken into account, Saskatchewan has the highest homicide rate.

With 70 murders recorded in 2021, six more than the previous year, Saskatchewan has a homicide rate of 5.93 per 100,000 population, up 9% from 2020. This is more than double the national rate of 2.06 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

The provinces with the largest declines in the number of murders committed in their territory were Alberta, with 118 homicides, down 23 from 2020 data, and Nova Scotia, whose toll fell by 14 homicides in 2021 for a total of 23. It should be noted, however, that the homicide toll in this province was abnormally high in 2020 due to the Portapique mass shooting.

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Among major urban centres, Toronto had the most murders in 2021, with 117 homicides, compared to 60 in Vancouver, 48 in Montreal and 45 in Winnipeg.

In large cities, the highest homicide rates were found in Regina (5.67/100,000), Thunder Bay (5.63/100,000) and Winnipeg ( 5.39/100,000 inhab.

The homicide rate was 1.3 times higher in rural areas than in urban areas in 2021, with respective rates of 2.58 and 1.97 homicides per 100,000 population.

Very concerning, the homicide rate is six times higher in Aboriginal communities than in the non-Aboriginal population. According to Statistics Canada, the homicide rate reached 9.17 per 100,000 population in Canada in 2021, compared to 1.55 in the non-Indigenous population.

Among the Aboriginal victims, nearly two-thirds (65%) were First Nations people, 6% were M├ętis and 5% were Inuit, according to Statistics Canada.

Furthermore According to data reported by police forces across the country, 247 homicide victims were racialized people, or one-third of victims in the country. This translates into a homicide rate of 2.51 per 100,000 inhabitants for this part of the population.

Roughly two out of five homicides were attributed to firearms in Canada last year.

Nationally, 40% of homicides in 2021 were committed with a firearm. Roughly two in five homicides were attributed to firearms in Canada last year. This represents a 6% increase over 2020 data.

The rate of homicides committed with a firearm has increased from 0.73 in 2020 to 0.78 per 100,000 population in 2021.

Highest firearm homicide rate in 2021
(per 100,000 population)

  • Saskatchewan: (1.86)
  • Nova Scotia: (1.21)
  • Manitoba: (1.01)
  • British Columbia: (1.00)
  • Alberta : (0.95)

The use of a handgun was listed in 57% of the cases, compared to 26% for hunting weapons, while the remaining 17% were committed with firearms of an unknown type.

By comparison, 32% of other homicides were committed with bladed weapons or sharp objects and 17% with blows.

Toronto had the most people killed by firearms last year, with 61 homicides by firearms, followed by Vancouver (30), Montreal (25) and Edmonton (20).

Adjusted for population, Regina had the highest rate of firearm murder at 2.65 per 100,000 population, up 40% from 2020.

According to police data, 46% of firearm homicides in 2021 were otherwise attributable to criminal gang activity.

The Montreal Police Department's Eclipse squad was formed in June 2008 to fight street gangs. Fourteen years later, she is still active in the fight against gun violence.

Violence by criminal gangs is becoming a concern in the country. Nearly a quarter of homicides committed in 2021, or 184, were related to criminal gang activity. Gangs committed 33 more homicides in 2021 than the year before. This propels the rate of gang-related homicides (0.48 per 100,000 inhabitants) to its highest level since 2005.

It is mainly in Ontario, Colombia British and Quebec that homicides attributable to criminal gangs have increased the most.

In Ontario, there were 65 murders attributable to criminal gangs in 2021, up 13 from 2020. In British Columbia, there were 39 homicides (+13), compared to 21 homicides in Quebec (+6).

As a city, Vancouver and Montreal saw the largest increases in criminal gang-related homicides in 2021, posting increases of +13 and +11 murders over 2020 data.

Again, when considering population size, Regina is the finds the highest rate of criminal gang-related homicides among major cities in the country, with a rate of 3.03 per 100,000 population, three times higher than in 2020 (1.14), notes Statistics Canada.

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