Crime in Canada

Map of violent crime rates across Canada, 2007.
  < 800 per 100,000
  801-1000 per 100,000
  1001-1500 per 100,000
  1501-2000 per 100,000
  2001-3000 per 100,000
  3001-5000 per 100,000
  > 5000 per 100,000

Under the Canadian constitution, the power to establish criminal law and rules of investigation is vested in the federal Parliament. The provinces share responsibility for law enforcement (although provincial policing in many jurisdictions is contracted to the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police), and while the power to prosecute criminal offences is assigned to the federal government, responsibility for prosecutions is delegated to the provinces for most types of criminal offences. Laws and sentencing guidelines are uniform throughout the country, but provinces vary in their level of enforcement.

Statistics Canada data

Canadian Criminal Cases collection

There were 2,452,787 crimes reported in 2006; 48% were property-related crimes and 12.6% were violent crimes. At a rate of 7,518 reported incidents per 100,000 people, the crime rate in 2006, the latest year for which there is statistics, was the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years.[1] The crime rate has been in general decline since 1991.

The province with the lowest crime rate in 2006 for the third straight year was Ontario with 5,689 per 100,000, followed by Quebec with 5,909 per 100,000. The province with the highest crime rate for the 9th straight year was Saskatchewan with 13,711 per 100,000. Regina is the city with the highest crime rate followed by its provincial counterpart Saskatoon. Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, and Saguenay have the lowest crime rates of any city and are all located in Quebec.[2] Winnipeg has had the highest violent crime rate since 2009 and still held it in 2012. For years native Canadian women have been victims of sexual assault and murder disproportionately often and there have been complaints that the police paid insufficient attention to the problem.[3] The three northern territories have higher per capita crime rates than any province. As evidenced by the crime map above right, Saskatchewan has a higher crime rate than the other Canadian provinces, but lower than the territories.

The number of murders dropped to 594 in 2007, 12 fewer than the previous year. One-third of the 2007 murders were stabbings and another third were by firearm. In 2007, there were 190 stabbings and 188 shootings. Handguns were used in two-thirds of all firearm murders. Seventy-four youths were accused of murder, down 11 from the previous year. About eighty-four percent of murders were done by someone known to the victim. Male victims of homicide were most likely to be killed by an acquaintance, someone known to them through a criminal relationship, or a stranger. Female victims of homicide were most frequently killed by a current or former intimate partner, or another family member. The province with the highest crime rate was Manitoba while the lowest crime rates occurred in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Police reported criminal violence is thought to be an undercount of actual violence rates. Thus, approximately every five years, Statistics Canada conducts a survey of victimization in Canada. The last General Social Survey conducted was in 2004, where 24,000 people were contacted by telephone: 106 reported incidents of violence per 1,000 polled, which is slightly lower than in 1999 when it was 111 per 1,000 polled.[4]

Crime by region

Murder Capitals since 1981

Winnipeg has been the "Murder Capital" of Canada 16 times since homicide rates have been available in 1981, far exceeding any other city.

Canada's Murder Capital List[5][6]
City Number of Times the "Murder Capital"
Winnipeg 20
Ottawa-Gatineau 8
Montreal 3
Edmonton 2
Vancouver 2
Calgary 1

Violent crime severity index by CMA

CMA's in Canada - Violent Crime Severity Index, by year [7][8][9][10][11]
City 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
St. John's 79.5 77.3 74.7 90.1 69.3
Halifax 84.8 92.4 111.7 105.6 120.0
Moncton 66.5 73.4 68.2 72.4 79.4
Regina 105.8 110.1 123.5 151.2 155.6
Saskatoon 109.9 126.4 134.5 155.7 154.7
Thunder Bay 110.9 118.8 128.7 138.5 136.1
Winnipeg 119.9 145.4 173.8 163.9 187.0
Kelowna 67.1 81.8 86.0 95.9 104.3
Vancouver 83.6 92.6 98.3 108.2 117.8
Brantford 73.9 67.6 84.5 92.5 91.5
Edmonton 89.7 95.8 105.9 106.0 118.7
AbbotsfordMission 70.7 79.7 72.4 89.8 118.8
Montréal 79.5 87.8 97.7 98.3 102.7
Saint John 59.5 68.0 91.3 96.4 100.3
London 56.9 64.1 70.5 74.3 69.9
Greater Sudbury 66.3 75.4 78.7 85.0 98.1
Victoria 54.4 63.7 70.9 81.3 81.0
Saguenay 57.2 79.4 55.2 59.2 72.8
Trois-Rivières 51.4 46.4 46.2 44.4 56.0
Calgary 62 61.2 72.1 82.1 84.8
Hamilton 59.9 62.5 75.8 80.9 84.3
Gatineau 65.1 71.4 68.1 59.7 74.5
KitchenerCambridgeWaterloo 57 60.9 69.5 69.8 65.1
Windsor 61.9 66.4 59.8 65.1 74.6
Peterborough 57.7 66.2 60.2 65.8 59.5
Sherbrooke 45.3 49.7 49.3 N/A 54.2
St. CatharinesNiagara 49.3 54.1 48.0 56.9 63.5
Kingston 57 53.7 48.1 54.5 71.9
Barrie 38.6 46.1 49.2 50.1 53.9
Ottawa 56.1 58.2 63.9 67.5 78.1
Toronto 68.2 78.4 84.7 88.4 94.5
Québec 48.3 50.8 48.6 51.3 50.9
Guelph 42.5 53.8 48.2 44.5 49.2
Canada 73.7 81.4 85.3 88.9 93.7

Crime statistics by province and territory

Crime statistics vary considerably through different parts of Canada. In general, the eastern provinces have the lowest violent crime rates while the western provinces have higher rates and the territories higher still. Of the provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have the highest violent crime rates. The chart below also shows that Saskatchewan has the highest assault rate, and that Manitoba has the highest sexual assault rate, robbery rate and homicide rate of any Canadian province.

2012 crime statistics for the provinces and territories are given below, as reported by Statistics Canada.[12]

Crime Rates (per 100,000 residents) by Canadian Provinces & Territories[12]
Province/Territory Canada NL PE NS NB QC ON MB SK AB BC YT NT NU
Violent Criminal Code violations1190.121538.641168.341365.451475.631047.23901.272040.882200.731382.001382.024035.907993.2610003.86
Attempted murder1.940.000.683.581.462.371.951.742.501.081.800.004.610.00
Sexual assault62.8572.3750.6470.4165.8849.4859.08115.2396.4872.7456.12213.29406.01531.21
Criminal harassment63.6539.2175.2966.5191.1462.8771.7525.2649.2657.5256.2944.32140.72175.09
Uttering Threats201.78389.73257.35290.19342.48214.63122.36303.63295.66211.27266.28689.731264.161552.07
Other violent violations91.48101.81144.41130.61148.9569.4961.25129.04148.71124.20133.92360.10738.20718.17
Property crime violations3414.443674.184585.743932.453229.452703.302622.314871.816189.964293.884710.958667.3524023.6216580.11
Breaking and entering503.75544.61570.82508.49480.19572.64361.73731.10790.03499.34649.59567.851520.221845.86
Theft of motor vehicle223.4598.70108.83139.88151.20258.48141.03294.00400.66356.22272.23407.19456.76465.92
Theft over $5,000 (non-motor vehicle)44.2945.8427.3829.6230.8252.0933.9634.7351.2159.1954.5269.2571.5147.48
Theft under $5,000 (non-motor vehicle)1424.241183.832210.051701.181319.401017.911277.201412.701667.751627.932285.262501.322242.271178.15
Other Criminal Code violations983.56983.50769.991031.00814.21565.55492.781896.603122.621586.581634.158013.6316034.9712645.04
Disturb the peace322.57384.86398.34236.96213.517.8149.37828.96658.82612.611015.245260.2412510.099490.46
Administration of justice violations517.92417.24237.50599.67397.65470.82346.63877.902129.99796.67364.082304.652798.222581.83
Other violations509.51439.09565.35588.71561.95375.71413.59553.12995.89635.07650.36927.951421.02982.28
Criminal Code traffic violations403.86442.01442.15358.18383.36519.22238.30396.131070.69553.00389.331326.831799.351169.24
Impaired driving242.21361.25328.53283.86287.85205.78127.12296.84725.40417.06311.411074.761534.061006.02
Other Criminal Code traffic violations161.6580.76113.6274.3195.51313.44111.1899.29345.29135.9477.92252.07265.29163.22
Federal Statute violations416.55359.50338.11418.15388.65331.02315.68381.851030.50372.07755.62650.951783.201302.79
Drug violations (CDSA)5313.71275.24240.93336.56257.30271.75243.50260.29563.54303.42549.81526.301370.291207.83
Federal statutes66.7959.8873.2449.8685.7238.0442.3445.30278.9040.01167.1680.33175.3235.61


Map of Police per 100,000 population across Canada, 2012.[13]
  < 176
  > 400

In 2005, there were 61,050 police officers in Canada which equates to one police officer per 528.6 persons, but with significant regional variations.[14] Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have the fewest police per capita with 664.9 and 648.4 persons per police officer, respectively. Conversely, the highest ratio of police to population is found in Canada's northern territories; Nunavut has 247.9 persons per police officer, the Northwest Territories has 248.5 persons per officer and the Yukon has 258.2 persons for each police officer.[15]

That is a substantially lower rate than most developed countries with only Japan and Sweden having so few police officers. The United States has one officer per 411.5 persons, and Germany 344.8.

Canada's national police force is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) which is the main police force in Canada's north, and in rural areas except in Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland. Those three provinces have their own provincial police forces, although the RCMP still operate throughout rural Newfoundland and also provide specific federal policing services in Ontario and Quebec. Many cities and districts have their own municipal police forces, while others have contracts with the provincial police or RCMP to police their communities.

Report rates of crimes

A publication posted on Statistics Canada reported that in 2009, only a small portion of crimes that happen are reported to the police (31% of all crimes), and this figure has been lowering from 1999 (37%) and 2004 (34%).[16] Only 54% of break and enters, 43% of robberies, and 34% of assaults are reported to the police.[17] The most common reason for not reporting a crime was the victim thought it was not important enough (68%). Other common reasons include; they think the police cannot do anything about it (59%), or they dealt with it another way (42%). Keep in mind people can give multiple reasons, thus why the percentages equal well over 100%.


Canada abolished the death penalty for murder in 1976,[18] In 2001, Canada had about 32,000 people in prison or about 0.13% of the total population. Globally, the United States was the country with the highest percentage of inmate population (about 0.7% of the total population). The European average is 0.2% of the total population, with France and Germany having lower rates than Canada, but with the United Kingdom, Spain and most of Eastern Europe having higher ones.


Comparing crime rates between countries is difficult due to the differences in jurisprudence, reporting and crime classifications. National crime statistics are in reality statistics of only selected crime types. Data are collected through various surveying methods that have previously ranged between 15% and 100% coverage of the data. A 2001 Statistics Canada study concluded that comparisons with the U.S. on homicide rates were the most reliable. Comparison of rates for six lesser incident crimes was considered possible but subject to more difficulty of interpretation. For example, types of assaults receive different classifications and laws in Canada and the US, making comparisons more difficult than homicides. At the time, the U.S. crime of aggravated assault could be compared to the sum of three Canadian crimes (aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and attempted murder). This comparison had a predicted bias that would inflate the Canadian numbers by only 0.1%. The study also concluded that directly comparing the two countries' reported total crime rate (i.e. total selected crimes) was "inappropriate" since the totals include the problem data sets as well as the usable sets.[19] For reasons like these, homicides have been favored in international studies looking for predictors of crime rates (predictors like economic inequality).

Crime Comparison Between Selected Countries
Country Homicide Robbery Sexual Assault Statistics Year
Canada 1.6 79.4 62.9 2012[20]
Australia 1.3 63.3 80.1 2011[21]
England and Wales 1.0 119.3 78.2 2012[22]
Ireland 1.0 61.1 39.7 2011[23]
New Zealand 0.9 47.1 76.5 2012[24]
Northern Ireland 1.5 72.6 88.9 2010/2011[25]
Scotland 1.7 34.9 85.1 2012/2013[26]
South Africa 30.1 297.5 2012[27]
United States of America 4.5 102.2 110 2014[28][29]

United States

Much study has been done of the comparative experience and policies of Canada with its southern neighbour the United States, and this is a topic of intense discussion within Canada.

Historically, the violent crime rate in Canada is far lower than that of the U.S. and this continues to be the case. For example, in 2000 the United States' rate for robberies was 65 percent higher, its rate for aggravated assault was more than double, and its murder rate was triple that of Canada. However, the rate of some property crime types is lower in the U.S. than in Canada. For example, in 2006, the rates of vehicle theft were 22% higher in Canada than in the US.[30]

Furthermore, in recent years, the gap in violent crime rates between the United States and Canada has narrowed due to a precipitous drop in the violent crime rate in the U.S. For example, while the aggravated assault rate declined for most of the 1990s in the U.S. and was 324 per 100,000 in 2000, the aggravated assault rate in Canada remained relatively steady throughout and was 143 per 100,000 in 2000. In other areas, the U.S. had a faster decline. For instance, whereas the murder rate in Canada declined by 36% between 1991 and 2004, the U.S. murder rate declined by 44%. [31]

The homicide rate in Canada peaked in 1975 at 3.03 per 100,000 and has dropped since then; it reached lower peaks in 1985 (2.72) and 1991 (2.69). It reached a post-1970 low of 1.73 in 2003. The average murder rate between 1970 and 1976 was 2.52, between 1977 and 1983 it was 2.67, between 1984 and 1990 it was 2.41, between 1991 and 1997 it was 2.23 and between 1998 and 2004 it was 1.82.[32] The attempted homicide rate has fallen at a faster rate than the homicide rate.[33]

By comparison, the homicide rate in the U.S. reached 10.1 per 100,000 in 1974, peaked in 1980 at 10.7 and reached a lower peak in 1991 (10.5). The average murder rate between 1970 and 1976 was 9.4, between 1977 and 1983 it was 9.6, between 1984 and 1990 it was 9, between 1991 and 1997 it was 9.2 and between 1998 and 2004 it was 6.3. In 2004, the murder rate in the U.S. dipped below 6 per 100,000, for the first time since 1966, and as of 2010 stood at 4.8 per 100,000 [31]

In more recent years, the USA as a country still typically has higher violent crimes rates. In 2012, the homicide rate in the USA was 4.7 per 100,000 residents,[34] Canada's was 3 times lower at 1.6.[20] However one should note the chances of being murdered at random are extremely low in both countries. In Canada, only 15% of murders are committed by strangers,[35] in the USA this number is very similar at 14%,[36] meaning in 50 years your chance of being murdered at random is 0.000128% in Canada,[37] in the USA it is 0.000329% (of course these numbers would vary by neighborhoods within each country). Certain methods of homicide are used more frequently in each country; in Canada (0.59),[38] stabbing homicides occur 51.3% more often than in the USA (0.39),[39] however firearm homicides occur 440% more in the USA (2.7) than in Canada (0.5). In the USA, you are 3 times more likely to die being shot (17.4%) then being stabbed (5.3%).[40]

Beyond homicides, the USA (112.9) has a higher robbery rate - 42.2% higher than Canada (79.4). Other violent crimes such as physical assaults or sexual assaults are not very comparable between the countries because of different definitions of the crimes. The disparity in property crime is not as large, however it still exists. The burglary/break-in rate in the USA (670.2) is 33.1% higher than in Canada (503.7), the theft rate in the USA (1959.3) is 33.4% higher than in Canada (1468.4), and the auto-theft rate in the USA (229.7) is slightly higher than the rate in Canada (223.5).

See also


  1. 85-002-XIE2007005.indd
  2. Statistics Canada Daily
  3. Each year, dozens of Canadian Aboriginal women are murdered or disappear never to be seen again. Some end up in a river that runs through the heart of Winnipeg.
  4. Brazeau, Robyn; Brzozowski, Jodi-Anne. "Violent victimization in Canada" (PDF). Statistics Canada. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-03-16. External link in |publisher= (help)
  12. 1 2 Crimes, by type of violation, and by province and territory (2012) Retrieved June-01-2014
  13. "Police officers by level of policing, by province and territory, 2012" (PDF). Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  14. "Police personnel". Statistics Canada. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  15. "Police officers, by province and territory". Statistics Canada. Archived from the original on 2006-09-09. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
  16. Self-reported victimizations reported to police, 1999, 2004 and 2009 Retrieved June-01-2014
  17. 1 2 Criminal victimization in Canada, 2009 Retrieved May-31-2014
  18. "Executions in Canada from 1860 to abolition.". Retrieved 14 May 2015..
  19. Feasibility Study on Crime Comparisons Between Canada and the United States Maire Gannon, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, Cat. no. 85F0035XIE. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
  20. 1 2 Crimes, by type of violation, and by province and territory/ Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  21. Australian crime: Facts & figures, and the population is from . Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  22. Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending December 2012, population from: . Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  23. Crime Stats Ireland 2011 and population from . Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  24. New Zealand Crime Statistics 2012. Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  25. Police Recorded Crime in Northern Ireland 2010/11, population from: . Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  26. Recorded Crime in Scotland 2012/2013, population from: . Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  27. Crime Stats South Africa and population from: . Retrieved December 20th, 2013
  28. Crime in the United States 2014 By Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1995–2014. FBI.
  29. Criminal Victimization, 2014 - cv14.pdf. US Bureau of Justice Statistics.
  30. Christopher Effgen (2001-09-11). "United States Crime Rates 1960 - 2008". Retrieved 2010-06-30.
  31. 1 2 Bureau of Justice Statistics Key Facts at a Glance Homicide Rate Trends
  32. 85-002-XIE2006006.indd
  33. Crime Statistics in Canada Julie Sauve at the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada
  34. Crime in the United States 2012. By Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1993–2012. FBI.
  35. Homicide in Canada, 2011. Retrieved May 2014
  36. Expanded Homicide Data Table 10 (FBI). Note that I did not include gang homicides as "stranger killings" as there is some affiliation between rival gangs, it's not necessarily random like being killed in an attempted robbery. Retrieved May 2014
  37. 1.6*50=80, meaning 80 people of every 100,000 are murdered in 50 years. 80/100,000*0.16=0.000128%. The same formula is used for the USA rate
  38. Homicides, by most common type of method, Canada, 1961 to 2011 Retrieved May 2014
  39. Expanded Homicide Data Table 8: Murder Victims by Weapon, 2008–2012 Retrieved May 2014
  40. Are stab wounds as dangerous as gun shot wounds? Retrieved May 2014.

Further reading

External links

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