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Members of VPD's search and canvas team at a murder scene April 7, 2009 in Vancouver. (GLOBE AND MAIL/JOHN LEHMANN/GLOBE AND MAIL/JOHN LEHMANN)
Members of VPD's search and canvas team at a murder scene April 7, 2009 in Vancouver. (GLOBE AND MAIL/JOHN LEHMANN/GLOBE AND MAIL/JOHN LEHMANN)

Canada's homicide rate hits 44-year low Add to ...

The homicide rate in Canada has fallen to its lowest annual level in 44 years, thanks to significant drops in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba, Statistics Canada revealed Tuesday morning as it gave detailed numbers for 2010.

The national homicide rate is now 1.62 for every 100,000 population. It has been declining since it reached a peak in the mid-1970s.

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Homicide rates remained higher in western provinces despite the declines. Still, Vancouver reported 25 fewer slayings for last year, a 42 per cent drop in homicide rate, reaching the lowest rate since that data for metropolitan areas started being compiled in 1981.

The data was released the day after the federal government tabled legislation to scrap the long-gun registry and destroy its database.

Statistics Canada said firearms were involved in 32 per cent of slayings last year, slightly more than stabbings (31 per cent).

About two-thirds of homicides by firearms last year involved handguns while 23 per cent were committed with long guns, Statistics Canada said, with the rest involving sawed-off shotguns, automatic weapons and “firearm-like weapons.”

Over the last three decades, there has been a general decline in homicides by firearms, mostly due to a drop in killings by rifles or shotguns, Statistics Canada said.

“Rates of homicide involving rifles or shotguns in 2010 were about one-fifth of those seen 30 years ago,” the agency said.

The Toronto metropolitan area had the highest numbers of reported killings last year, with 80, followed by Montreal (49), Vancouver (36), Edmonton (32) and Winnipeg (22).

However, the homicide rate, calculated per 100,000 population, showed that Thunder Bay was the metropolitan area with the highest rate of slayings, with a 4.2 rate, followed by Saskatoon and Regina, with rates of 3.7 and Winnipeg (2.8) and Halifax and Edmonton (both at 2.7).

Homicides in Canada.

2005: 663

2006: 606

2007: 594

2008: 611

2009: 610

2010: 554

Editors's note: An earlier version of this online article incorrectly stated the number of years homicides have been at an all-time low. This version has been corrected.

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