According to new data released by Statistics Canada, violent crime in Canada has reached its highest level in 15 years. A report on July 27 revealed a 4% increase in police-reported crime in Canada last year. The Violent Crime Severity Index (CSI) also rose by 5% following a 6% increase in 2021. The report highlighted an increase in reported robberies (15%), extortions (39%), homicides (8%), and sexual assaults (3%) during the same period. However, rates of other non-violent offenses decreased, including drug offenses (-17%), identity fraud (-11%), identity theft (-8%), impaired driving (-3%), and administration of justice violations (-2%).
The Conservative Party in Canada is attributing the concerning crime trends to what they refer to as Parliament’s ‘soft-on-crime’ policies. Raquel Dancho, Public Safety Critic for the Conservative Party, stated, “Justin Trudeau has made Canadian streets unsafe.” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre also criticized Prime Minister Trudeau’s failed bail reform policies, citing a case in which a violent offender released on bail murdered an innocent mother of two near a ‘safe’ injection site in Toronto.
The data shows that violent crime has risen by 39% since 2015, with gang murders doubling and violent gun crime increasing for the eighth consecutive year. The national murder rate has risen for the fourth year in a row, with 78 more deaths in 2022 compared to 2021, totaling 874 murders. The report states, “The homicide rate increased 8% from 2.08 homicides per 100,000 population in 2021 to 2.25 homicides per 100,000 population in 2022. This was the highest rate since 1992.”
Provincially, Manitoba had the highest homicide rate at 6.24 murders per 100,000 population, followed by Saskatchewan at 5.94 per 100,000. In the territories, Northwest Territories had 6.58 homicides per 100,000 people, and Yukon had 4.57 per 100,000. The report also revealed a stark contrast between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, with an explosive homicide rate of 10.98 murders per 100,000 among Indigenous Canadians, nearly seven times greater than the rate among non-Indigenous populations.
The Conservative Party is urging Parliament to end their “catch-and-release policies,” which they believe have contributed to the increase in violent crime. They are calling for new bail reform laws to address the issue. According to Dancho, Bill C-75 and C-5 have allowed “dangerous repeat violent offenders out onto the streets and back into our communities instead of keeping them behind bars where they belong.” The party emphasizes the need for change to ensure that such offenders receive jail time, not bail, and that serious criminals receive sentences that keep them in prison to protect the public.
In response to the rising crime rates, Prime Minister Trudeau outlined his government’s efforts to enact meaningful bail reform. He acknowledged the need to strengthen support for Canadians, citing an increase in violent crime in many cities. Trudeau mentioned that bail reform is one factor but also highlighted the importance of addressing mental health issues and creating greater opportunities for youth to participate in community organizations and receive mentorship and guidance. He also stressed the importance of harm reduction in relation to the opioid epidemic affecting communities across the country.
The report from StatsCan suggests that the upward trend in crime may have started before the COVID pandemic. Prior to a temporary drop during the pandemic, the CSI had been rising for five consecutive years since 2015. Only New Brunswick, Yukon, and Nunavut recorded less crime from 2021 to 2022. Manitoba experienced the most significant increase in the CSI nationwide, with a 14% rise.
In light of these concerning statistics, the issue of violent crime in Canada remains a top priority, with the Conservative Party advocating for stricter bail reform and the Trudeau administration working on comprehensive measures to address the underlying causes of the increase.