Canada’s 2019 crime rate increased from 2018 but dropped when compared with numbers a decade ago, police numbers tallied by Statistics Canada show.
Canada’s statistical agency said in a report released Oct. 29 that there were more than 2.2 million police-reported Criminal Code incidents in 2019, some 164,700 more incidents than in 2018.
“At 5,874 incidents per 100,000 population, the police-reported crime rate—which measures the volume of crime—increased 7% in 2019,” the report said. “This rate, however, was still 9% lower than a decade earlier in 2009.”
The report said child pornography cases are a primary driver of the 2019 numbers, increasing 46%, with a rise of 2,881 incidents from 2018.
“This was the largest annual increase in the national rate dating back to 2008,” the report said.
With the exceptions of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Nunavut, all jurisdictions saw increases in total child pornography from 2018 to 2019.
The majority of the national increase was due to more incidents in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
Vancouver and Toronto reported the largest increases in the number of total child pornography violations, the cities combined representing 60% of the increase in incidents of child pornography from 2018 to 2019.
Police reported 678 homicides in 2019, 20 more than in 2018. The number of firearm-related and gang-related homicides increased by 10 and six respectively in 2019.
There were a reported 174 Indigenous victims of homicide, an increase from 141 in 2018. The rate of homicide for Indigenous peoples is six and a half times higher than for non-Indigenous people.
As well, there were more than 30,900 police-reported sexual assaults, 7% higher than in 2018, and the fifth consecutive increase since 2015. Between 2018 and 2019, the rate of police-reported sexual assaults increased in all provinces and territories, with the exception of Nova Scotia, which saw a 15% decline.
“The number of sexual assaults reported by police is likely a significant underestimation of the true extent of sexual assault in Canada, as these types of offences often go unreported to police,” the report said.
The rates of violent and non-violent offences specific to firearms increased for the fifth consecutive year in 2019.
Police-reported rates of all cannabis-related drug offences have declined every year since 2012, with precipitous declines in 2018 and 2019. Since the enactment of the
federal Cannabis Act in October 2018, police have reported a total of 18,097 incidents under the legislation.
Following more than 14 months of enforcement, the most common types of offences under the Cannabis Act were related to importing or exporting, possession and sale.
However, 2019 saw a national 48% increase in the rates of drug offences related to opioids and 3% for both cocaine and crystal meth. The highest rates were in Kelowna, Lethbridge, Vancouver and Abbotsford-Mission.
The rate of heroin offences decreased 6% in 2019 after trending upward over the previous nine years with B.C. accounting for 53% of all heroin-related offences in 2019. That rate remained stable compared with 2018.
Reports of impaired driving increased 19% in 2019.
The report noted impaired driving legislation coming into force in 2018 provided police with greater authority to conduct alcohol and drug screening, which may have allowed police to detect more instances of impaired driving.
Also on the upswing were criminal harassment, uttering threats, indecent or harassing communications and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Some of that can be attributed to use of the internet and social media, the report said.
“The perceived anonymity of the internet and social media can facilitate criminal harassment, uttering threats and indecent and harassing behaviours,” it said.
The rate of police-reported total fraud - including identity theft and identity fraud – has continued to increase for the eighth consecutive year, jumping 10% between 2018 and 2019, and a 64% increase over the 2009 rate.
And, in 2019, there were about 77,200 youths accused of a criminal offence, more than 3,400 fewer than the previous year.
“The youth crime rate dropped 5% and has been on a long downward trend, declining for over two decades after peaking in 1991,” the report said.