NORTH BAY – Police in Canada reported more than 740 murders in 2020 – the most in three decades – in a year that also saw the country experience its biggest mass murder in history.

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A total of 743 murders were reported last year, the highest number since 1991 and an increase of 56 as compared to 2019.

figures, in broad form a New report released on Thursday Using data extracted from the 2020 Homicide Survey, by Statistics Canada, which collects police-reported information on homicide incidents, victims and accused persons in Canada.


The country’s homicide rate rose seven percent to 1.95 per 100,000 people, making it the highest national homicide rate in Canada since 2005.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Canadian society since March 2020,” the StatCan report said. “These marked social and economic changes have contributed to changes in crime patterns across Canada.”

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Murders are relatively rare in Canada, StatCan said, accounting for less than 0.2 percent of all violent crimes in 2020.

Although the country’s homicide rate has increased steadily since 2014, it is less than some of the highs recorded in the early 1990s and mid-1970s.

However, last year’s increase came after the country saw an eight percent decrease in its Crime Severity Index, which measures the amount and severity of crime reported by the police in Canada.

covid-19 pandemic

StatCan noted that many aggrieved service providers and advocates have expressed concerns about the impact of pandemic-related lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders, potentially causing home violence due to social isolation, low incomes and job losses. Increasing.

While the number of spousal homicides declined to nine in 2020, StatCan reports that 11 more murders reported were committed by family members and seven by other intimate partners.

Of the 474 solved homicides in Canada, where the relationship between the accused and the victim was reported, 82 percent were by someone the victim knew personally.

Thirty-eight per cent of these murders were committed by an acquaintance, 10 per cent by a spouse, 20 per cent by another family member, five per cent by someone who had an intimate relationship with the victim, either a current or former non-spouse. were, and eight percent had a criminal relationship with the victim.

Only 18% of the murders were committed by a stranger.

provincial look

The increase in murders has been largely attributed to the increase in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

According to StatCan, Alberta saw 39 more homicides in 2020, while Nova Scotia saw an increase of 29.

This includes the 22 victims of the April 2020 mass shooting, which began in Portapique, NS and expanded to other areas of the province overnight before the gunman was shot dead by the RCMP.

Calgary and Edmonton experienced the biggest increases in homicides in Alberta last year, with each city reporting 15 more victims.

Toronto, being Canada’s largest city, had the highest number of homicides in the country at 105, although it was 25 fewer than in 2019, making it the biggest year-on-year decline. census metropolitan area (CMA).

According to StatCan, homicides overall rose to 20 of Canada’s 36 CMAs.

Ontario and Manitoba had the biggest declines in homicides, with 19 and 10 fewer victims, respectively.

firearms and gangs

One in three homicides in Canada last year involved a firearm, nearly half of which were committed with a handcuff.

In 2020, police reported a total of 277 firearms-related homicides, an increase of six percent compared to 2019 and the second year in a row in Canada.

handguns have been used in Most homicides related to firearms Their share in all firearms-related homicides has declined steadily since 2013, when it stood at 67 percent, surpassing rifles and shotguns in the early 1990s.

With the exception of Alberta and Nova Scotia, most provinces saw a decrease in the number of firearms-related homicides, with areas reporting no change.

However, last year the rate of firearms-related homicides in Canada was the same as in 2017. Highest on record in more than two decades At 0.73 per 100,000 people. According to StatCan, Regina (1.89) and Saskatoon (1.76) reported the highest rates of firearms-related homicides.

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo (0.17), Halifax (0.22), and Montreal (0.27) had the lowest rates with zero firearm-related homicides, except for the CMA.

Despite the increase in firearms-related homicides, gang-related homicide saw the biggest year-on-year decline since 2013, falling nine percent to 148 victims in 2020.

The biggest declines were in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, each reporting eight, six and six fewer gang-related homicides, respectively.

According to the data, there were 11 fewer gang-related incidents in Toronto, 12 fewer in Montreal and four fewer in Winnipeg.

Statcan reports that the shootout was too far most common method used More than 78 percent account for gang-related murders.

Over-representation of indigenous, visible minority victims

Despite representing about five percent of Canada’s population, the homicide rate for Indigenous victims was seven times higher than for non-Indigenous people at 10.05 per 100,000 population compared to 1.41.

According to statistics, Indigenous people represented 28 percent of the victims of all homicides (201) in Canada last year.

Of these homicides, 163 were male, which StatCan notes as a 24 percent increase and the highest since 2014 when Indigenous identification first became available through homicide surveys. There were nine fewer victims of homicide involving indigenous women, the first decrease in four years.

However, homicide rates were much higher for Indigenous men and women than for non-Indigenous men and women. about eight and 5.5 times more, respectively.

As StatCan reports, “the history of colonialism, including residential schools, work camps, and forced relocation, deeply affected indigenous communities and families.”

“Indigenous peoples often experience various forms of trauma and violence, including social and institutional marginalization, discrimination, and intergenerational trauma and gender-based violence. As a result, many Indigenous peoples experience challenging social and economic conditions. These Factors play a significant role in this. Over-representation of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system and as victims of crime.”

A total of 179 murder victims in 2020 were designated as visible minorities, half of whom identified as black. Forty-nine percent were men and about half of these murders took place in Ontario, mainly in Toronto.

According to StatCan, despite 51 percent of people in Toronto identifying as visible minorities, they are over-represented in homicides, accounting for more than two-thirds of the victims.