Canada’s worst mass shooting helped push 2020 murder rate to 15-year high

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Statistics Canada said Thursday that Canada’s murder rate rose last year to its highest level since 2005, driven in part by the country’s worst-ever mass shooting, in which 22 people were killed.

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Statscan also noted societal pressures that it said were caused by the lockdowns linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian police reported 743 murders in 2020, up from 687 in 2019. The murder rate rose to 1.95 per 100,000 people, the highest rate in 15 years.

“While homicides remain relatively rare, accounting for less than 0.2% of all violent crime in Canada in 2020, homicide rates are benchmarks for levels of violence,” Statscan said in a comment.

By comparison, the overall murder rate in the United States in 2020 was about 6.5 murders per 100,000 people, according to FBI data.

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The Canadian increase was driven by more murders in the provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Gabriel Wortman killed 13 people in Nova Scotia on the night of April 18, 2020, and nine more the next day before he was shot dead by police.

This contributed to an “uncharacteristically high number and rate of homicides in the county,” Statscan said.

Alberta’s two most populous cities, Calgary and Edmonton, had significant D increases, and each contributed 15 more homicides to the national count than in 2019.

There were 15 gun-related homicides in Canada last year, compared to 2019, and gang-related homicides are down 10% in the same period.