TORONTO – Canada’s homicide rate continues to decrease. 2012 saw the lowest homicide rate recorded since 1966, according to Statistics Canada.
There were 543 homicides recorded in Canada in 2012, down 10 per cent from the previous year.
The majority of the decrease in 2012 was largely due to decreases in Alberta (down 24), British Columbia (down 16) and Saskatchewan (down 9). Combined, these three provinces accounted for 49 fewer homicides.
The only provinces and territory to report an increase in homicides were Quebec (up three), the Northwest Territories (up two) and Ontario (up one).
Statistics Canada said the highest homicide rate was in Nunavut. Manitoba reported the highest homicide rate for the provinces, followed by Saskatchewan.
Homicide rates in metropolitan areas
Thunder Bay, Ont., had the highest homicide rate in 2012 (with seven), followed by Winnipeg, Regina and Halifax.
Moncton, N.B., Kingston, Guelph and Brantford in Ontario, and St. John’s, NL, reported no homicides in 2012.
Firearm-related homicides increase, stabbings decrease
Despite the decrease overall, 2012 saw an increase in fatal shootings with 172 victims, compared to 158 in 2011.
Following a 20-year trend, handguns accounted for the majority of all homicides involving firearms, at 65 per cent.
There were fewer homicides by stabbing last year, down to 164 victims from 204 in 2011.
There were no homicides from Shaken Baby Syndrome last year – the first time since data became available in 1997.
Gang-related homicides in 2012
According to police, 95 homicides in 2012 were gang-related, which was unchanged from the previous two years.
Gang-related homicides began increasing in the early 1990s, rising steadily before peaking in 2008.
The majority of gang-related murders (68 per cent) were tied in some way to the illegal drug trade. Statistics Canada said most of these homicides were motivated by “a settling of accounts” (70 per cent) or for financial gain (14 per cent).
Victims knew their killer
In the majority of homicides last year (84 per cent), murder victims were killed by someone they knew, typically a family member or acquaintance.
There were 82 homicides committed by an intimate partner – 83 per cent involved a female victim.
Last year also saw the lowest rate of homicide committed by a stranger in over four decades.
Youth accused of homicide decreases
Fewer male and female youth committed homicide in 2012. The overall rate of youth accused of homicide was at the lowest rate in over a decade.
The rate of female youth accused of homicide reach the lowest rate in more than 40 years, while the rate of male youth accused of homicide was the lowest it’s been in a decade.