Canada's police services reported 605 homicides in 2006, 58 fewer than the previous year. As a result, the national homicide rate fell to 1.85 homicides per 100,000 population.
The homicide rate has been on a general decline since it peaked in the mid-1970s at just over 3 homicides per 100,000 population. It had reached a 35-year low of 1.73 in 2003.
The Bad News
However, increases were seen in other serious violent crimes, such as attempted murder, serious assaults and robberies, in both 2005 and 2006.
The large majority of homicide victims were killed by someone they knew. About one-third of victims were killed by an acquaintance, 17% by a spouse, 19% by a family member other than a spouse and 12% by someone known through criminal activities. Strangers accounted for the remaining 17%, similar to previous years.
In total, police reported 104 gang-related homicides in 2006, including both youths and adults. Gang-related homicides accounted for about 1 in every 6 homicides, similar to the previous year.
Half of these homicides occurred in the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. The province of Quebec reported the highest proportion of homicides involving gangs, at just over 1 in 4.
Three-quarters of gang-related homicides in 2006 were committed with a firearm, usually a handgun, compared with less than one-quarter of non-gang-related homicides.