Prairie provinces take top three spots in murder rates in 2016

The Canadian Press
November 28, 2017
By The Canadian Press
REGINA — The Prairies occupy two of the top three spots in a category no one wants to lead in — homicide rates.

Statistics Canada has released a survey which shows that in 2016 Saskatchewan was No. 1 among provinces with 54 homicides, or 4.69 slayings per 100,000 population.

The federal agency says Manitoba and Alberta both recorded a decrease in homicide rates last year compared with 2015, but still had the second- and third-highest rates among the provinces.

Manitoba had 42 murders — a rate of just over three homicides per 100,000 population — while there were 116 murders in Alberta, a rate of 2.73 per 100,000 residents.

Regina’s eight murders were the third-highest rate for cities in Canada, based on population, and Edmonton came in at No. 2 with 47 homicides.

Statistics Canada says about one-quarter of the homicides in Saskatchewan were gang-related, and more than half of those happened outside Saskatoon and Regina.

“We are seeing an increase in gang activity,” Regina police Chief Evan Bray told a provincial radio show last week.

“We talk about the prevalence of drugs and firearms in our community and many times those are associated with the high-risk lifestyle that comes with gangs.”

The highest number of homicides involving an Aboriginal victim was reported in Saskatchewan at 36, followed by Alberta with 31 and Manitoba at 27.

Thunder Bay, Ont., had the highest murder rate for metropolitan areas in Canada — eight homicides for a rate of 6.64 per 100,000 population.

It’s important to look beyond the numbers to understand the human impact, Bray said.

“We’re talking about people losing their lives. We’re talking about really changing families’ lives and, in many cases, wrecking lives well beyond the act of the homicide,” Bray said.

Murders often happen in a house where the victim and perpetrator know each other, he said. Drugs and alcohol can be involved, he added

Bray said one way police are trying to prevent such deaths is by using a “hub model,” in which people in a variety of services, including health and police services, get together to look at people in high-risk situations where an intervention may be needed. The group can decide who is best equipped to help and resources can be focused there.

— with files from CJME

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2017

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