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Murder rates at lowest level in 45 years

|Written By Gail J. Cohen

This morning, Statistics Canada released its latest numbers on homicides in Canada and they’re at their lowest level in 45 years.

In 2010, police reported 554 homicides in Canada, 56 less than the year before. The homicide rate fell to 1.62 for every 100,000 population, its lowest level since 1966.

The overall drop in homicides was driven largely by fewer incidents in the western provinces. With 35 fewer homicides in 2010 than in 2009, the rate in British Columbia fell to its lowest point since the mid-1960s. Police in Alberta reported 18 fewer homicides, while those in Manitoba reported 12 fewer.

In the face of these statistics, it becomes even harder to swallow the current Conservative government’s new omnibus crime bill that proports to make Canada’s streets safer.

As Eric Gottardi, vice chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s national criminal justice section has noted: “Criminal law should be based on the most effective policies and best use of public resources.”

In a 100-page submission made last week to a Parliamentary committee and critiquing bill C-10, the CBA says the legislation focuses too much on punishment and not on how to prevent criminal behaviour in the first place, or rehabilitate those who offend. “As most offenders will one day return to their communities, prevention and rehabilitation are most likely to contribute to public safety,” the brief notes.

These recent stats that show some of the most violent crimes are on the decline flies in the face of the so-called safe streets and communities act as well as coming on the heels of the government’s decision to kill the long-gun registry and all documents related to it. Rates of homicide involving rifles or shotguns in 2010 were about one-fifth of those seen 30 years ago, reports Stats Can.

Thunder Bay remains Canada’s murder capital, according to Stats Can with the highest homicide rate for the second year in a row (4.2 per 100,000). The next highest rates were in Saskatoon and Regina, both at 3.7 per 100,000.

With 35 fewer homicides in 2010 than in 2009, the rate in British Columbia fell to its lowest point since the mid-1960s. Police in Alberta reported 18 fewer homicides, while those in Manitoba reported 12 fewer. However, Ontario saw 11 more murders in 2010 than the year before.

Police in several of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas reported substantially fewer homicides in 2010. The rate in Vancouver, with 25 fewer killings, fell 42 per cent to its lowest level since data in metropolitan areas became available in 1981.

Visit Statistics Canada’s web site for the full Homocide in Canada report.

Homocide and other crimes are decreasing and while bill C-10 has some laudable aspects to it — like laws against luring children on the Internet — to lump together nine previous bills into one doesn’t serve Canadians. The bill should be split up to allow for proper examination of the costs and overall value to society and the justice system of many portions of it while separting out measures that are fully supported and would be happily passed by all parties.


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