2020 highest number of homicides in 3 decades: StatCan

NORTH BAY – Canadian police reported more than 740 homicides in 2020 – the most in three decades – in a year that also saw the country experience its worst mass murder in history.

There were a total of 743 homicides reported last year, the highest number since 1991 and an increase of 56 homicides from 2019.

The figures, detailed in a new report released Thursday by Statistics Canada, use data pulled from the 2020 Homicide Survey, which collects police-reported information about homicides, victims and accused persons in Canada.

The country’s homicide rate rose 7% to 1.95 per 100,000 people, making it the highest nationwide homicide rate in Canada since 2005.

The StatCan report said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on Canadian society since March 2020. “These dramatic social and economic changes have contributed to change. crime patterns across Canada.”

StatCan notes that homicides are still relatively rare in Canada, accounting for less than 0.2 percent of all violent crimes in 2020.

Although the nation’s homicide rate has risen steadily since 2014, it is still well below some of the highs recorded in the early 1990s and mid-1970s.

Last year’s increase, however, came as the country saw an 8% drop in the Crime Severity Index, which measures the number and severity of police-reported crimes in Canada. .


StatCan notes that many victim service providers and advocates have expressed concern about the impact of pandemic-related lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders, with social isolation. , reduced incomes and job losses are likely to lead to an escalation of domestic violence.

While the number of husband and wife homicides dropped by nine in 2020, StatCan reports that another 11 homicides were reported by family members and another seven by close partners.

Of the 474 murders solved in Canada, where there is a relationship between the accused and the victim, 82% were by someone the victim knew.

Thirty-eight percent of these murders are committed by an acquaintance, 10 percent by a spouse, 20 percent by another family member, five percent by someone the victim has current or former intimate relationships that are not husband and wife, and eight percent by someone with whom the victim has a criminal relationship.

Only 18% of murders are committed by a stranger.


The increase in homicides was mainly due to increases in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Alberta sees 39 more homicides in 2020, while Nova Scotia sees a 29 increase, according to StatCan.

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

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

Toronto, which is the largest city in Canada, has the highest number of homicides in the country at 105, although this is 25 fewer than in 2019, making it the city with the largest annual drop in the number of homicides. census metropolitan areas (CMA).

According to StatCan, homicides have increased in 20 of Canada’s 36 CMAs.

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


About a third of homicides in Canada last year involved firearms, of which nearly half were committed with handguns.

In 2020, police reported a total of 277 gun-related homicides, up 6% from 2019 and the second year in a row the rate increased in Canada.

Pistols have been used in the majority of gun-related murders dating back to the early 1990s, outpacing rifles and handguns, despite their share of all homicides involving firearms. guns have been steadily decreasing since 2013 at 67%.

With the exception of Alberta and Nova Scotia, most provinces saw a drop in gun-related homicides, with no changes reported in the territories.

However, the rate of gun-related homicides in Canada last year tied that of 2017 as the highest recorded in more than two decades, at 0.73 per 100,000 people. Regina (1.89) and Saskatoon (1.76) reported the highest rates of gun-related homicides, according to StatCan.

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo (0.17), Halifax (0.22) and Montreal (0.27) have the lowest rates, excluding CMA, with no gun-related homicides.

Despite the increase in gun-related homicides, gang-related homicides saw the biggest year-over-year decline since 2013, dropping 9% in 2020 to 148 victims.

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

Toronto has 11 fewer gang-related homicides, Montreal 12 fewer and Winnipeg four fewer, according to the data.

StatCan reports that shooting is by far the most common method used in gang-related homicides with more than 78%.


Although representing about 5% of Canada’s population, the homicide rate of Indigenous victims is seven times higher than that of non-Indigenous people at 10.05 per 100,000 population, compared with 1. 41.

According to the figures, Indigenous Peoples represented 28% of all homicide victims (201) in Canada last year.

Of these homicides, 163 were men, which StatCan records as a 24% increase and the highest since 2014 when Indigenous identities were first released through the Homicide Survey. . There were nine fewer victims of homicide involving indigenous women, the first drop in four years.

However, the homicide rate of Indigenous men and women is much higher than that of non-Indigenous men and women, almost 8 and 5.5 times higher, respectively.

The history of colonization, including residential schools, work camps and forced displacement, has profoundly affected indigenous communities and families, the StatCan report said.

“Indigenous peoples are often subjected to social and institutional marginalization, discrimination, and various forms of trauma and violence, including intergenerational trauma and gender-based violence. As a result, many Indigenous Peoples experience challenging social and economic circumstances, which play an important role in the over-representation of Indigenous Peoples in the criminal justice system and are victims of crime.”

A total of 179 homicide victims in 2020 are considered visible minorities, half of whom identify as Black. Eighty-nine percent are men, and nearly half of these murders are reported in Ontario, with the majority in Toronto.

According to StatCan, although 51% of people in Toronto identify as a minority, they are still involved in homicides that account for more than two-thirds of victims, according to StatCan.


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