Perception vs. reality: the breakdown on how safe Canadian cities really are

Click to play video: 'Poll suggests many Canadians think Calgary is unsafe'
Poll suggests many Canadians think Calgary is unsafe
WATCH ABOVE: A new poll shows some surprising perceptions about crime in Calgary, suggestion many Canadians don’t think the city is safe. Global’s Nancy Hixt reports – Aug 16, 2016

A new Mainstreet/Postmedia  survey shows Canadians have no idea how safe cities really are across the country.

The focus of the survey was to ask Canadians to rank how safe they feel 15 major cities are.

Participants were given a miscellaneous order of cities and asked, “Thinking about the city of (city name), (province) would you say you consider it very safe, safe, somewhat safe, somewhat unsafe, or very unsafe?”


Not one province, gender or age group came close to the  correct order of safest city to least safe city, although there were some common misperceptions.

Ottawa is widely viewed as the safest city in Canada with 72 per cent of respondents thinking that city is safe or very safe. Winnipeg overwhelmingly got a bad rap, with 56 per cent of respondents believing that city is unsafe.

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A look at how safe Canadians think our cities are. Global News

In reality, Ottawa is the third-safest city and Winnipeg sits mid-pack, just behind Calgary according to the Statistics Canada Crime Severity Index.

The latest crime statistics show Toronto is the safest city and Saskatoon is the least safe city in Canada.

A look at Canada’s safest cities according to Statistics Canada. Global News

Manitobans, females, people between 50 to 64 and people over 65 were all close in their views on Saskatoon being the least safe city.

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Interestingly, most provinces tend to rank their cities optimistically. Albertans believed Calgary is the seventh-safest city and Edmonton is the eighth safest. (They came in seventh and 13th respectively) Quebecers were the only province to believe that Quebec City is the safest city in the country (it ranks second safest).


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Calgary was widely viewed by Canadians to be less safe than it really is, and Edmonton was viewed to be more safe than it actually is.

Overall results placed Calgary as the 10th-safest city, which is three spots below where it really ranks in seventh place. Edmonton was thought to be the 11th safest city when in reality there are only two cities less safe than Alberta’s capital, Regina and Saskatoon.

A recent survey done by the Calgary Police Commission shows that Calgarians overwhelmingly feel safe.

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According to the 2015 results, 95 per cent of Calgarians agree that Calgary is a safe city to live in.

2015 survey results of how safe Calgarians feel. Calgary Police Commission

In recent years Calgary has shown the greatest increase in severe crime, with a 25 per cent increase in crime since 2014. Prince Edward Island has shown the greatest decrease in crime, with stats down 21 per cent. Crime rates in Saskatoon are largely unchanged over the same time period, up 2 per cent since 2014.


How Canadians ranked the cities, safest to least safe:

  1. Ottawa
  2. Charlottetown
  3. Moncton
  4. John’s
  5. Quebec City
  6. Regina
  7. Halifax
  8. Victoria
  9. Vancouver
  10. Calgary
  11. Edmonton
  12. Saskatoon
  13. Montreal
  14. Toronto
  15. Winnipeg

Actual ranking of safest cities, according to Statistics Canada crime rates, and how crime rates have changed since 2014:

  1. Toronto +2%
  2. Quebec City 0
  3. Ottawa -2%
  4. Montreal -4%
  5. P.E.I. -12%
  6. Halifax -9%
  7. Calgary +25%
  8. Winnipeg +6%
  9. St. John’s +3%
  10. Victoria +10%
  11. Moncton +21%
  12. Vancouver +1%
  13. Edmonton +12%
  14. Regina +3%
  15. Saskatoon +2%

The Mainstreet/Postmedia survey polled 4,231 Canadians.

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