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B.C.'s homicide rate increases for second year in a row

British Columbia had 25 more homicides in 2021 than in 2020.
Police investigate after an alleged targeted shooting in Maple Ridge on May 25, 2022. Shane MacKichan

British Columbia's homicide rate spiked again, according to new data released by Statistics Canada Monday

B.C. recorded 125 homicides in 2021, 25 more than the year prior. Per 100,000 population, that’s 2.4, up from 2020's 1.94 and 2019's 1.77.

The homicide uptick in B.C. and Ontario contributed to the country's overall homicide rate. There were 788 homicides in Canada in 2021, up three per cent from 2020.

Meanwhile, Alberta and Nova Scotia saw significant decreases in their numbers. 

“It should be noted that the observed decline in Nova Scotia follows an unusually high homicide count in 2020 because of a mass shooting in the province.”

Saskatchewan had the highest rate of homicides in 2021 with 5.93 per 100,000 population, up nine per cent from the previous year. 

The new data shows Canada had the highest number of gang-related homicides in 16 years, since 2005. According to the report, there were 184 gang-related homicides in 2021, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of all the homicides. 

"This change was attributable to increases in several provinces, including Ontario (up 13 with 65 gang-related homicides), British Columbia (up 13 with 39 gang-related homicides), and Quebec (up six with 21 gang-related homicides),” states the report. 

Gang-related homicides continued to be in urban areas; in 2021, Vancouver and Montreal had the largest increase among metropolitan areas in the number of homicides involving gangs compared to the previous year. 

Of the 788 homicides in 2021, police reported 190 homicide victims as Indigenous. 

Statistics Canada notes homicides remain rare and account for less than 0.2 per cent of all police-reported crimes in 2021. 

Regina, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg recorded the highest homicide rates in 2021. Trois-Rivières and Guelph were the only metropolitan areas that reported no homicides to police in 2021. 

The agency states firearms are the most common weapons used, with two in five homicides resulting in the victim being shot.