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Saskatchewan reported to have highest homicide rate in Canada

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan leads provinces in homicide rates'
Saskatchewan leads provinces in homicide rates
A new report from Statistics Canada shows that for the third year in a row, homicide rates increased across Canada with Saskatchewan having the highest rate of all provinces. But as Kabi Moulitharan explains, some police forces are pushing back on the statistics. – Nov 22, 2022

Statistics Canada recently reported that homicides are on the rise in the country. The national homicide rate rose by three per cent in 2021.

There were 788 homicides in the country last year. Nearly a quarter of the killings were connected to gangs. This is the highest rate of gang-related homicides since 2005.

While the national increase was largely a result of growth in Ontario and British Columbia, Saskatchewan had the highest homicide rate in the country last year.

Saskatchewan’s homicide rate rose nine per cent from 2020, with 5.3 homicides reported for every 100,000 people.

Read more: Canada saw highest rate of gang-related homicides in 2021 in 16 years, StatCan says

“It’s a real problem, and I feel like I talk about this often, just the complexity of the social issues, the availability of weapons like firearms that can cause a different outcome than two people getting into a fistfight,” Regina police Chief Evan Bray said. “When you have arguments that break out and someone pulls out a weapon like a firearm, that has different consequences.”

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The Regina Police Service said it is aware of active gangs that have a presence in the city.

“In some cases, what can make it complicated is, street gangs are often not as organized as what I would call organized crime, and so, the ability for us to dig into that as a gang crime can sometimes be very difficult,” Bray said.

Bray said that whether people state they are in a gang or confess that a crime was gang-motivated, it is very hard for the police to tie the crime to the actual gang.

“But we do know that gangs, drugs and firearms are all intertwined,” he said. “If you are doing strong drug enforcement, you are going to infiltrate gangs, and you are going to diminish the number of firearms in the community.”

Read more: Regina crimes against property showing slight increase

The Regina police said they are focusing in-depth investigations on all three of those areas.

“We talk constantly about the work that we are doing with regard to drug issues in the city and with regard to firearms because those are the two things that are volatile and a deadly combination.”

Sandra Masters, Regina’s mayor, said that in some respects, many prevention measures are ineffective.

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“I think that 25 per cent of homicides in Canada being affiliated with gangs, the challenge of that in our city, again, is the disorganized and chaotic nature of that.

“We do have some federal funding coming into the city of Regina actually that you will see on council report tomorrow (Wednesday), where there is some funding coming into community to try to get some anti-gang related education.

“Ultimately, at the end of the day, the way to correct crime 10 years from now is actually to get to the kids.”

Masters said they are looking to partner with schools and youth organizations to create places of belonging that steer away from gangs.

The Saskatoon Police Service agreed that there was a significant correlation between gang-violence and other types of crime but are hesitant to classify the recent statistics as ‘trends’.

“Due to the relatively small number of homicides in our province and a short time frame involved, we are cautious about classifying increases in rates as ‘trends’,” said Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper. “However, we recognize there are challenges provincially relating to gang-violence and the intersection with drugs and gun crime. We have strategies in place to address these issues including a provincial Gang Violence Reduction Strategy and significant enforcement programs. We believe that the recent introduction of provincial trafficking response teams and crime reduction teams will have a positive impact on offending.”

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