Vanessa Balintec, CBC, July 27, 2023
Police-reported crime in Canada has increased for the second year in a row, with violent crime reaching its highest point since 2007.
In a report released Thursday, Statistics Canada researchers found that violent crime rose by five per cent in 2022 — after a six per cent increase in 2021 — using the Crime Severity Index (CSI). It’s one of the tools the federal agency uses to track the volume and severity of reported crimes.
The increase may be a sign that crime is returning to an upward trend that researchers observed before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, said Warren Silver, an analyst with Statistics Canada.
According to Statistics Canada, crime in 2020 showed a “marked” decline in the overall volume and severity after lockdown restrictions were first implemented. Before then, the CSI had been rising for five consecutive years, beginning in 2015.
Most provinces and territories, except for New Brunswick, Yukon and Nunavut, recorded increases in the CSI from 2021 to 2022. Manitoba recorded the largest increase at 14 per cent, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Prince Edward Island, which all saw an increase of six per cent.
‘Right to be concerned’
Compared with data from 2021, last year saw higher rates of homicide and sexual assault, with robbery and extortion coming in the highest with increases of 15 and 39 per cent, respectively.
Police reported 874 homicides in 2022, 78 more than the year before. The overall rate increased by eight per cent to 2.25 homicides per 100,000 population — the highest rate since 1992, the agency said.
Indigenous people and racialized people were overrepresented in crimes of violence and homicide, the report says, with police reporting 225 Indigenous and 265 racialized homicide victims in 2022.
Laura MacDiarmid, an assistant professor of justice studies at the University of Guelph Humber in Toronto, says racialized people are contending with a history of colonization and racism that is still “ongoing.”
“Those contribute to … entrenchment in the criminal justice system,” said MacDiarmid.
Statistics Canada also found long-term increases in certain crimes. In 2022, the rate of police-reported fraud, identity theft and identity fraud was 78 per cent higher than a decade earlier.
Similarly, the rate of extortion was five times higher in 2022 than in 2012, rising from five to 25 incidents per 100,000 population, the agency said.
“I think it’s disturbing,” said Irvin Waller, an emeritus professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa, of the overall rise in violent crime.
“We have a serious problem of violence in Canada. The public is right to be concerned about it,” he said.