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Murders in Canada spiked to 30-year high in 2020, data shows

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More murders in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia in 2020 helped to take the annual tally of reported homicides in the country to 743, the most in 30 years, according to data released by Statistics Canada on Thursday.

There were 56 more murders reported last year than in 2019, including 22 deaths from Canada’s worst-ever mass shooting in Nova Scotia in April 2020.

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Gabriel Wortman killed 13 people in Nova Scotia on the night of April 18, 2020, and another nine the next day before police shot him dead.

The Nova Scotia mass shooting contributed to an “uncharacteristically high homicide count and rate for the province,” Statistics Canada said in a statement.

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The two most populated cities in Alberta, Calgary and Edmonton, recorded large increases and each contributed 15 more murders to the national tally than in 2019.

While murders increased during the year when most people were forced to stay at home due to COVID restrictions, the crime severity index, which measures the volume and severity of police-reported crime in Canada, decreased 8 per cent, data showed.

There were 15 more firearm-related killings in Canada last year, compared with 2019, and gang-related murders decreased 10 per cent in the same period.

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