Thunder Bay, Ont. once again homicide capital of Canada
Despite an overall decrease in Thunder Bay's crime rate, violent crime continued to increase in 2018
For the third consecutive year - and the fourth time in the last five years - Thunder Bay was the homicide capital of Canada in 2018.
That's according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada's annual reports on police-reported crime incidents and homicide data in census metropolitan areas (CMA) - municipalities with a population of 100,000 or more - for 2018, which were released on July 22.
With eight homicides reported last year, Thunder Bay, Ont. had a per capita rate of 6.38 murders per 100,000 population. That is more than three times greater than the overall Canadian homicide rate, which was 1.76 per 100,000 people in 2018.
The increase in homicides in Thunder Bay - only seven were reported in 2017 - comes despite a declining homicide rate across Canada. StatsCan said that 651 homicides were reported in Canada in 2018, 15 fewer than the previous year, resulting in a four per cent decrease in Canada's overall rate.
StatsCan also said that more than one in five victims of homicide across the country were Indigenous, despite only accounting for five per cent of Canada's total population.
Crime severity index rates increase across Canada
In addition to its homicide rate, Thunder Bay also saw its crime severity index and violent crime index numbers increase in 2018.
The crime severity index is a measurement tool developed by StatsCan to account for changes in the volume and the severity of crimes reported by police. The violent crime index is similar, but it only includes violent crimes.
Thunder Bay's crime severity index and violent crime index score increased by nine and 12 per cent, respectively, from 2017 to 2018. This resulted in the city having the nation's second-highest violent crime index score, only slightly behind Winnipeg, MB.
Across Canada, StatsCan found that the national crime severity index also increased, but only by two per cent from 2017 to 2018. It was the fourth consecutive year that the national crime severity index increased, but StatsCan said overall, "the index was 17% lower in 2018 than a decade earlier in 2008."
Fewer hate crimes reported in Thunder Bay in 2018
The northwestern Ontario city also had the fourth-highest per capita rate of hate crime incidents reported by police among CMA's in Canada. This came despite a decrease from 21 incidents reported in 2017 to 10 incidents in 2018.
However, this decrease was comparable to what was seen across Canada.
StatsCan also found that hate-motivated crimes across the country were down after peaking in 2017, but last year's hate crime rates are still higher than what was seen in 2016.
Notably, "the number of hate crimes targeting the Muslim population fell 50% after spiking in 2017 because of large increases in Ontario and Quebec," according to the report.
Other 2018 trends in Thunder Bay
According to the data provided by StatsCan, Thunder Bay also saw substantial increases in level one sexual assaults, assaults against a peace officer, robberies, breaking and entering, theft of motor vehicles, fraud, and total drug violations.
However, the overall crime rate in Thunder Bay - measured by total number of crimes reported divided by total population - decreased by six per cent in 2018, as there were almost 300 fewer criminal incidents reported by police in 2018 as compared to the previous year.
Other notable decreases in crime statistics include a 15 per cent decrease in mischief incidents and 10 per cent fewer impaired driving charges in 2018.