Among Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs), Thunder Bay reported the highest homicide rate in 2010 (4.2 homicides per 100,000 population) for the second year in a row. This city’s rate was followed by the western CMAs of Saskatoon (3.7) and Regina (3.7), where homicide rates have been above the national average for more than a decade.
“In 2010, police reported 554 homicides in Canada, 56 fewer than the year before. This decline follows a decade of relative stability. 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.”
Police reported 170 homicides with a firearm in 2010, down from 180 the year before. This is consistent with a general decline in firearm-related homicides seen over the past three decades.
Much of the decline in firearm-related homicides since the early 1980s can be attributed to a decrease in homicides involving rifles or shotguns. Rates of homicide involving rifles or shotguns in 2010 were about one-fifth of those seen 30 years ago.
Handguns accounted for 64% of homicides committed with a firearm in 2010, while rifles or shotguns accounted for 23%. Other firearms such as sawed-off shotguns, automatic firearms or other firearm-like weapons represented the remainder.
In 2010, one-half of all homicides in Toronto were committed with a firearm, compared with 44% in Vancouver and 33% in Montréal.
Stabbings (31%) were nearly as common in 2010 as shootings (32%). Another 22% of homicides involved beatings and 8% were by strangulation or suffocation. The remaining homicides used other means such as motor vehicles, fire and poisoning.