THUNDER BAY – With eight homicides in 2016, Thunder Bay recorded the highest homicide rate among the CMAs (6.64 homicides per 100,000 population). Edmonton (47 homicides, or a rate of 3.39), and Regina (8 homicides, or a rate of 3.23) had the next-highest homicide rates. In 2016, no homicides were reported in Trois-Rivières, Kingston or Greater Sudbury.
Statistics Canada released the latest crime statistics today which show that police reported crime across Canada has increased slightly.
Homicide Rates Across Canada
In 2016, homicides represented less than 0.2% of all violent crimes. Police reported 611 homicides in Canada in 2016, two more than the previous year. Due to growth in Canada’s population, the homicide rate decreased 1% from 1.70 homicides per 100,000 population in 2015 to 1.68 homicides per 100,000 population in 2016.
There was little change at the national level, due to a mixture of notable increases seen across some provinces and notable decreases seen across others. Ontario (+32) and Saskatchewan (+10) reported the largest increases in the number of homicides in 2016. In contrast, there were large decreases in the number of homicides in Alberta (-17), Quebec (-12) and British Columbia (-10).
Police are alerted to only a small proportion of sexual assault incidents
While the rate of self-reported sexual assault did not change significantly from 2004 to 2014, the rate of police-reported sexual assault in 2016 was 15% lower than a decade ago. This demonstrates that, due to a range of factors, police-reported data can underestimate the nature and extent of sexual assault.
These types of offences often go unreported to police. Self-reported data from the GSS on Victimization showed that only 5% of sexual assaults experienced by Canadians aged 15 years and older in 2014 were brought to the attention of police. Like police-reported data, the GSS found the majority (71%) of incidents involved unwanted sexual touching. The most common reasons for not reporting sexual assaults to the police were that the victim perceived the crime as minor and not worth taking the time to report (71%); the incident was a private or personal matter and handled informally (67%); and the victim perceived that no one was harmed during the incident (63%).
In early 2017, Canadian media highlighted variations in how police record sexual assaults as unfounded, which may also have had an impact on official statistics. Over the coming year, Statistics Canada will provide standards and guidelines to police services to ensure standardized reporting. Statistics Canada will once again collect and release data on unfounded incidents, including sexual assaults, in July 2018.
In 2016, there were 21,014 police-reported sexual assaults, resulting in a rate of 58 incidents per 100,000 population, a decrease of 1% from 2015. This decline is mostly attributable to the increases in maximum penalties under Bill C-26 for sexual violations against children. Criminal incidents involving both a level 1 sexual assault and a sexual violation against a child are now being counted as a sexual violation against a child. Prior to Bill C-26, these incidents would have been counted as a level 1 sexual assault.
Police-reported impaired driving rate down for fifth consecutive year, but drug-impaired driving up
Police reported nearly 70,500 alcohol or drug-impaired driving incidents in 2016, about 1,400 fewer than the year before. The rate of impaired driving decreased by 3% in 2016 to 194 impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population, representing the fifth consecutive year of declines.
Almost all police-reported impaired driving incidents continued to involve alcohol in 2016 (96%), while a small proportion (4%) involved drugs.
Unlike the overall decline in impaired driving from 2015 to 2016, the number and rate for almost all drug-impaired driving violations increased. There were 3,098 drug-impaired driving violations in 2016, 343 more than the previous year and an 11% increase in the rate for drug-impaired driving. Although rates for drug impaired driving are relatively low (8.5 per 100,000 population in 2016), they have been on the rise since data became available in 2008.
The national increase in 2016 was largely driven by increases in Ontario (+38%), British Columbia (+29%) and Quebec (+10%). Declines were reported in Yukon, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nunavut.
Despite the increase in the rate of drug-impaired driving, it remained low compared with the rate of alcohol-impaired driving (186 per 100,000 population). This may be partly explained by greater difficulties in measuring the level of drug impairment compared with alcohol impairment.