Homicide in Canada, 2016

by Jean-Denis David

Release date: November 22, 2017

Homicides account for a small proportion of all police‑reported violent Criminal Code offences in Canada, representing less than 0.2% in 2016 (Keighley 2017).Note  While homicide continues to be a relatively rare occurrence in Canada, homicide rates are considered benchmarks for levels of violent activity both in Canada and internationally (Ouimet and Montmagny‑Grenier 2014). Further, homicide rates may influence perceptions of safety within communities (Romer et al. 2003).

Since 1961, police services have been reporting detailed information on homicide occurrences in Canada through Statistics Canada's Homicide Survey. Using data drawn from the Homicide Survey, this Juristat article explores the prevalence and characteristics of homicide incidents, victims, and accused persons reported in 2016, and compares these findings to short and long term trends.

Two additional homicides in Canada in 2016, but rate declined 1%

Saskatchewan reported a record high number and rate of homicides in 2016

Among the 33 census metropolitan areas, homicide rates were highest in Thunder Bay, Edmonton and Regina

Increase in gang‑related homicides in 2016

Firearm homicides increased for third year in a row

Solve rate for 2016 homicides lower compared with previous years

Homicide rate for Aboriginal females down 31% from the previous year

Proportion of Aboriginal and non‑Aboriginal female homicide victims previously reported as missing down from the previous year

Solve rates in 2016 lowest for non‑Aboriginal male victims

Rate of Aboriginal persons accused of homicide 11 times higher than rate for non‑Aboriginal persons

Youth continue to account for less than 10% of persons accused of homicide

Close to one in five accused persons was reported as having mental health or developmental disorders

The number of intimate partner homicides decreased in 2016

Charts

Chart 1 Homicides, by province, 2016

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Province (appearing as row headers), Average 2006 to 2015 and 2016, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Province Average 2006 to 2015 2016
rate per 100,000 population
CanadaData table Note 1 1.69 1.68
British Columbia 2.09 1.83
Alberta 2.61 2.73
Saskatchewan 3.19 4.69
Manitoba 4.12 3.19
Ontario 1.34 1.47
Quebec 1.11 0.80
New Brunswick 1.08 1.45
Nova Scotia 1.57 1.37
Prince Edward Island 0.63 0.00
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.73 1.32

Chart 2 Homicides and attempted murders, Canada, 1966 to 2016

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Homicide and Attempted murder, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Homicide Attempted murder
rate per 100,000 population
1966 1.25 0.65
1967 1.66 0.68
1968 1.81 0.87
1969 1.86 1.03
1970 2.19 1.22
1971 2.15 1.53
1972 2.34 1.85
1973 2.43 2.15
1974 2.62 2.28
1975 3.02 2.77
1976 2.84 2.95
1977 3.00 2.88
1978 2.76 3.10
1979 2.61 3.12
1980 2.41 3.23
1981 2.61 3.63
1982 2.66 3.75
1983 2.69 3.47
1984 2.60 3.60
1985 2.72 3.34
1986 2.17 3.37
1987 2.43 3.46
1988 2.15 3.12
1989 2.40 3.04
1990 2.37 3.27
1991 2.69 3.72
1992 2.58 3.72
1993 2.18 3.43
1994 2.06 3.18
1995 2.00 3.20
1996 2.14 2.97
1997 1.96 2.89
1998 1.85 2.47
1999 1.77 2.26
2000 1.78 2.50
2001 1.78 2.34
2002 1.86 2.16
2003 1.74 2.23
2004 1.96 2.10
2005 2.06 2.55
2006 1.87 2.57
2007 1.82 2.41
2008 1.85 2.17
2009 1.81 2.38
2010 1.64 1.96
2011 1.76 1.94
2012 1.58 1.91
2013 1.45 1.81
2014 1.47 1.77
2015 1.70 2.17
2016 1.68 2.14

Chart 3 Gang-related homicides, Canada, 1996 to 2016

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Rate per 100,000 population (appearing as column headers).
Year Rate per 100,000 population
1996 0.10
1997 0.09
1998 0.17
1999 0.15
2000 0.24
2001 0.20
2002 0.15
2003 0.28
2004 0.23
2005 0.33
2006 0.32
2007 0.36
2008 0.42
2009 0.37
2010 0.28
2011 0.28
2012 0.27
2013 0.24
2014 0.23
2015 0.27
2016 0.39

Chart 4 Homicides, by most common method, Canada, 1986 to 2016

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Shooting, Stabbing and Beating, calculated using rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Shooting Stabbing Beating
rate per 100,000 population
1986 0.67 0.63 0.48
1987 0.76 0.70 0.51
1988 0.63 0.63 0.52
1989 0.79 0.62 0.47
1990 0.70 0.77 0.47
1991 0.97 0.80 0.51
1992 0.87 0.74 0.53
1993 0.68 0.67 0.40
1994 0.68 0.53 0.37
1995 0.59 0.62 0.41
1996 0.72 0.66 0.44
1997 0.65 0.56 0.38
1998 0.50 0.62 0.41
1999 0.55 0.47 0.41
2000 0.60 0.49 0.42
2001 0.55 0.55 0.39
2002 0.48 0.58 0.40
2003 0.52 0.45 0.39
2004 0.54 0.64 0.43
2005 0.69 0.61 0.44
2006 0.59 0.64 0.37
2007 0.57 0.57 0.36
2008 0.60 0.61 0.37
2009 0.54 0.62 0.35
2010 0.51 0.49 0.34
2011 0.46 0.60 0.38
2012 0.49 0.47 0.33
2013 0.38 0.55 0.29
2014 0.44 0.53 0.28
2015 0.50 0.60 0.37
2016 0.61 0.48 0.32

Chart 5 Rate of homicide victims, by Aboriginal identity and sex, 2014 to 2016

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5 Year and Rate per 100,000 population (appearing as column headers).
Year Rate per 100,000 population
Aboriginal female victims 2014 3.60
2015 4.79
2016 3.30
Non-Aboriginal female victims 2014 0.70
2015 0.78
2016 0.69
Aboriginal male victims 2014 11.11
2015 12.83
2016 13.20
Non-Aboriginal male victims 2014 1.65
2015 1.90
2016 2.00

Chart 6 Proportion of homicide victims, by Aboriginal identity and sex, and who were previously reported as a missing person, 2015 and 2016

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6 Year and Percent (appearing as column headers).
Year Percent
Aboriginal female victims 2015 17.07
2016 10.34
Non-Aboriginal female victims 2015 18.66
2016 13.45
Aboriginal male victims 2015 7.48
2016 7.14
Non-Aboriginal male victims 2015 7.55
2016 6.16

Chart 7 Persons accused of homicide with a suspected mental or developmental disorder, by age group, Canada, 2016

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by Age group (years) (appearing as row headers), 2016 and Average 2006 to 2015, calculated using percent of accused persons units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group (years) 2016 Average 2006 to 2015
percent of accused persons
12 to 17 9.1 10.7
18 to 24 13.6 9.7
25 to 34 17.8 16.1
35 to 44 17.9 21.2
45 to 54 23.5 25.6
55 to 64 20.0 28.1
65 and older 21.4 39.1

Start of text box

Text box 1
Solved status of homicides collected by the Homicide Survey

A homicide incident is considered solved (or ‘cleared’Note ) when police either report laying or recommending a charge of homicide against at least one accused person or they report solving homicides by other means (e.g., the suicide of the accused person). Where there are multiple victims involved in a single homicide incident, the solved status of the incident applies to each victim. In incidents where there are multiple accused persons involved, a homicide is considered solved on the date when the first accused person in the case is identified by police.

Homicides may be solved months or years after they occur. The Homicide Survey collects updates for previously reported homicides to revise the solved status and to allow for the collection of additional details gathered throughout homicide investigations, if applicable. In all cases, the number of solved homicides are always reported according to the year in which they were reported by the police to the Homicide Survey (which also corresponds to the year in which the incident was deemed a homicide by the police and began being investigated as such). For instance, with this initial release of 2016 homicides, 407 of the 611 homicides were solved in 2016, resulting in a solve rate of 67%. During the 2017 data collection cycle, some of the outstanding unsolved homicides may become solved, which would then increase the solve rate for 2016 homicides.

Since the Homicide Survey is a police‑reported source of data, it does not track court‑related outcomes for homicide incidents such as decisions put forth by Crown attorneys, convictions, or sentencing‑related information. For further information related to court decisions for homicide charges brought before the adult criminal court system in Canada, refer to the Juristat article, “Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2014/2015” (Maxwell 2017) or CANSIM table 252-0053.

End of text box

Detailed data tables

Table 1a Number of homicides, by province or territory, 1986 to 2016

Table 1b Rate of homicides, by province or territory, 1986 to 2016

Table 2 Homicides, by census metropolitan area, 2015 and 2016

Table 3 Homicides, by gang‑related and firearm‑related status and province or territory, 2015 and 2016

Table 4 Homicides, by gang‑related and firearm‑related status and census metropolitan area, 2016

Table 5 Firearm‑related homicides, by type of firearm, Canada, 1996 to 2016

Table 6 Homicides, by shootings and stabbings and province or territory, 2016

Table 7 Rates of homicide victims and accused persons, by sex and Aboriginal identity and province or territory, 2016

Table 8 Homicides, by closest accused to victim relationship, Canada, 2015 and 2016

Survey description

Homicide Survey

The Homicide Survey collects police‑reported data on the characteristics of all homicide incidents, victims and accused persons in Canada. The Homicide Survey began collecting information on all murders in 1961 and was expanded in 1974 to include all incidents of manslaughter and infanticide. Although details on these incidents are not available prior to 1974, counts are available from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey and are included in the historical aggregate totals.

Whenever a homicide becomes known to police, the investigating police service completes the survey questionnaires, which are then sent to Statistics Canada. There are cases where homicides become known to police months or years after they occurred. These incidents are counted in the year in which they become known to police (based on the report date). Information on persons accused of homicide are only available for solved incidents (i.e., where at least one accused has been identified). Accused characteristics are updated as homicide cases are solved and new information is submitted to the Homicide Survey. Information collected through the victim and incident questionnaires is also accordingly updated as a result of a case being solved. For incidents involving more than one accused, only the relationship between the victim and the closest accused is recorded.

Due to revisions to the Homicide Survey database, annual data reported by the Homicide Survey prior to 2015 may not match the annual homicide counts reported by the UCR. Data from the Homicide Survey are appended to the UCR database each year for the reporting of annual police reported crime statistics. Each reporting year, the UCR includes revised data reported by police for the previous survey year. In 2015, a review of data quality was undertaken for the Homicide Survey for all survey years from 1961 to 2014. The review included the collection of incident, victim and charged/suspect‑chargeable records that were previously unreported to the Homicide Survey. In addition, the database excludes deaths, and associated accused records, which are not deemed as homicides by police any longer (i.e., occurrences of self‑defence, suicide, criminal negligence causing death that had originally been deemed, but no longer considered homicides, by police). For operational reasons, these revisions were not applied to the UCR.

Population estimates

Denominators of homicide rates by Aboriginal identity for the years of 2001 to 2016 are based on population counts provided by the Demography Division of Statistics Canada. Population counts prior to 2001 were not available for this Juristat release. In the absence of the availability of annual estimates of the Canadian population by Aboriginal identity, the population counts used in this article are either derived or projected, depending on the years. As such, these population counts are subject to a certain level of uncertainty, and subject to revisions in the future. Between the years of 2001 and 2011, population counts were calculated using linear interpolations between the 2001 and 2006 censuses of population and the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), adjusted for net under‑coverage, partially enumerated reserves, and populations living in collective dwellings. For the years 2012 to 2016, population counts were obtained from custom projections based on the adjusted 2011 NHS. The selected projection assumptions regarding components of growth are mostly based on the reference scenario of Projections of the Aboriginal Population and Households in Canada, 2011 to 2036 (Statistics Canada 2015), with further calibrations to adjust for fertility, mortality, immigration and emigration, taken from the population estimates from 2012 to 2016. Population counts were selected for the mid‑point of the year. Information from the 2016 Census of Population by Aboriginal identity were not available for this Juristat release. Further, in order to maintain consistency across all years for which rates of homicide by Aboriginal identity are available, the population projections as described above were used to calculate homicide rates by Aboriginal identity for 2016. Calculations of homicide rates using the 2016 Census of Population may differ slightly from the homicide rates presented in this article using projected population counts for 2016.

References

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Cotter, A. 2014. “Homicide in Canada, 2013.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85‑002‑X.

Hotton Mahony, T. and J. Turner. 2012. “Police‑reported clearance rates in Canada, 2010.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85‑002‑X.

Keighley, K. 2017. “Police‑reported crime statistics in Canada, 2016.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85‑002‑X.

Maxwell, A. 2017. “Adult criminal court statistics in Canada, 2014/2015.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85‑002‑X.

Miladinovic, Z and L. Mulligan. 2015. “Homicide in Canada, 2014.” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85‑002‑X.

Osborne, S. 2012. “Homicide.” In Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2010/11: Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. Smith, K. (Ed.). Home Office. p. 15‑54. (accessed February 7, 2017).

Ouimet, M. and C. Montmagny‑Grenier. 2014. “Homicide and violence—International and cross‑national research: The construct validity of the results generated by the World Homicide Survey.” International Criminal Justice Review. Vol. 24, no. 3. p. 222‑234.

Romer, D., K. Hall Jamieson and S. Aday. 2003. “Television, news and the cultivation of fear of crime.” Journal of Communication. Vol. 53, no. 1. p. 88‑104.

Smith, E. and A. Cooper. 2013. “Homicide in the U.S. known to law enforcement, 2011." U.S. Department of Justice. (accessed February 7, 2017).

Statistics Canada. 2015. Projections of the Aboriginal Population and Households in Canada, 2011 to 2036. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 91‑552‑X.

Trussler, T. 2010. “Explaining the changing nature of homicide clearance in Canada.” International Criminal Justice Review. Vol. 20, no. 1. p. 366‑383.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 2014. Global Study on Homicide, 2013: Trends, Contexts, Data. (accessed June 2, 2017).