Chris MacLean's picture
National homicide rate up
Posted on Nov 22, 2022


In its report entitled "Homicide trends in Canada, 2021", Statistics Canada shows the national homicide rate continuing to increase.

Homicides were up 3% from the previous year, with a quarter of the 788 murders connected to gang activity.

Murder accounted for less than 0.2% of all police-reported violent crimes in 2021.

Saskatchewan maintains the highest rate of homicides and gang-related activity (up 9% from 2020) and Manitoba holds second place. However, increases in homicides in Ontario (+37) and British Columbia (+25) from 2020 contributed the most to the overall rise in 2021.

Sizeable decreases were seen in Alberta (–23). The 2021 decrease in Nova Scotia (–14) is deceiving as it follows the 2020 mass shooting in the province.

Gang-related Murders

Data on gang-related homicide rates have only been collected since 2005, and the rates continue to rise. Police reported 184 gang-related homicides in 2021, accounting for nearly one-quarter (23%) of all homicides. In 2021, there were 33 additional gang-related homicides compared with 2020, resulting in the highest rate (0.48 per 100,000 population) recorded in Canada since 2005.

Gang-related homicides tend to be concentrated in urban areas. In 2021, Vancouver (+13) and Montréal (+11) had the largest increases among in the number of homicides in metropolitan areas involving gangs compared with the previous year.

Weapons of Choice

In 2021, at the national level, the majority of homicides resulted from shooting (40%), stabbing (32%), and beating (17%).

Among firearm-related homicides, handguns were the primary type of firearm used (57%), followed by rifles and shotguns (26%). The remaining firearm-related homicides were perpetrated with firearm-like weapons and firearms of unknown type (17%). Almost half (46%) of firearm-related homicides were identified as gang-related. Overall, the national firearm-related homicide rate increased by 6% compared with 2020.

Clearing Homicide Crimes

Data for the five-year period from 2017 to 2021 suggest an average time of 36 days for a homicide to be solved. However, variations are observed in the length of time required to solve a homicide based on various characteristics. Data suggests that homicides by shooting take the longest to solve. Within 100 days, 47% of homicides by shooting were solved. By contrast, 70% of homicides by beating and 84% of homicides by stabbing were solved in the same timeframe.

The involvement of gang-related activities in the perpetration of a homicide also has an impact on its clearance. Within 100 days, 27% of gang-related homicides were reported as solved. By contrast, three-quarters of homicides (75%) unrelated to gangs were solved within 100 days.


The homicide rate of Indigenous victims in 2021 was six times higher than that of non-Indigenous people. Among Indigenous victims, nearly two-thirds (65%) were First Nations, 6% were Métis, and 5% were Inuk (Inuit).

Homicides of racialized people are 38% higher than for the rest of the population. Among racialized homicide victims, approximately half (49%) were Black, and nearly one in five (19%) were South Asian.

Unlike homicide in general, most victims of spousal or intimate partner homicide are women. In 2021, 17% of homicide victims were killed by a spousal or intimate partner. Of those, 76% were women, and 24% were men.

Spousal or intimate partner homicides account for a larger proportion of homicides in rural communities (23%) than in urban communities (17%) over the 10 years from 2012 to 2021. 


The report shows that women are often killed out of frustration, anger, despair, jealousy or envy. Men are often killed to settle accounts or debts or because of an argument.


To read or download the entire report, click the following links: