Canada Sees Violent Crime Surge To The Worst Level Since 2007 

Canada’s progress on crime is rolling back, and it may be a sign of eroding economic opportunity. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data showed an increase in its Crime Severity Index for 2022. Both violent and non-violent crime is on the rise, with the odds of being a victim at 1 in 16. Especially of concern is violent crime, which has surged to a level of severity not seen in over a decade. 

Canada Has Seen Violent Crime Severity Return To 2007 Levels

Canada’s back to seeing violent crime on the rise. The Violent Crime Severity Index (VCSI) climbed 4.6% to 97.7 in 2022. Over the past decade, the index has climbed 19.3%—increasing by a fifth. The index is now at the highest level since 2007, which is not the direction most would like to see it move.

Rising violent crime is a sign of economic erosion, with vacant homes contributing. A Department of Justice study found that violent crime was concentrated at inner and city centers, where “disadvantaged” households were located. The country may have a low unemployment rate, but the odds are slanted against young adults making enough for adequate shelter. That’s not getting better as home prices continue to climb.

NBER researchers have also observed that housing vacancies are correlated with violent crime. In this case, Canada’s investor-owned vacant homes might be contributing to the issue

Aside from making regions less attractive, violent crime can drive property values lower. Real estate experts note that violent crime drives vacancies, causing rents to rise to make up for the initial vacancy increase. This drives cap rates higher, thus resulting in lower property values. Won’t someone think of the HELOCs? Kidding.

Canada’s Violent Crime Severity Is The Worst In Over A Decade

The Canadian Crime Severity Indexes for violent and non-violent crime. 

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Non-violent Crime Severity Showed A Mild Increase, But…

On the upside, Canada’s non-violent crimes remain historically low… kind of. The Non-Violent Crime Severity Index  (NVCSI) rose 4% to 70.9 in 2022, but remains 2.9% lower than 10 years ago. As you can see, it’s much lower than it was heading into the pandemic. However, changes to how non-violent crimes are reported have also changed.

Shoplifting is a prominent example in how non-violent crime has seen a shift in reporting. Cities like Toronto no longer charge first-time shoplifters, which would reduce the count. Similar decisions were made in other regions, looking to mitigate the long-term impact of non-violent charges. Ignoring the ethics debate, this will artificially reduce the incident count. 

Retailers are no longer engaging or reporting every observed incident. Instead, they’re opting to write off the loss, moving the loss to operating costs. As a result, regions like BC have seen a 300% increase in shoplifting, but “only” a 17% increase in charges in 2022. Still a massive increase, but just a fraction of the increase reported as losses and shrink. 

It doesn’t just feel like it—there’s been an increase in crime across Canada. A sharp increase in violent crime severity has materialized, returning to levels not seen in over a decade. Non-violent crime made a small increase, but a reporting shift means it may not reflect reality. In any case, Canada is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to crime. This will have long-term economic and social consequences.

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  • Mark Bayly 10 months ago

    Many young people are in the sex and drug trade to pay their outrageous rents They voted for Trudeau . That’s what happens when you vote for a trust fund multimillionaire that doesn’t care about money.

  • Jon Morbey 10 months ago

    Canada NEEDS to support house prices at all costs.

  • Healthy growth 10 months ago

    A healthy growth is all we need, growth in housing, CPI, crime and may be hunger.

  • BCGuy 10 months ago

    The increase is insanely powerful drugs, the enabling of addiction and crime, and the multi-generational loss of good, disciplined parenting along with narcissist inducing social media are the reasons for the massive increase in crime.
    The stats for crime are so out of whack because 90 percent of the petty stuff isn’t even recorded anymore. Retail theft for instance.

  • Robert Owen 10 months ago

    I live in Vancouver-ground zero for the fentanyl epidemic. We don’t have homeless people, we have addicts. To feed their habit the brazenly shoplift, steal cars and catalytic converters, camp on the streets to be close to their pushers and defaecate on the sidewalks. It’s not a pretty picture.

    Unfortunately fentanyl is a step up from mild old heroin. Street addicts have found safe ways to use it so typical only recreational users die. Under our harm reduction programs, they are given free opioids but sell them to high school kids and recreational users for money to buy fentanyl. Unfortunately fentanyl causes psychosis hence an increased number of random stranger attacks. A few of note were an Irish tourist stabbed several times in the back whilst waiting to cross the street and a Mexican tourist stabbed and almost killed in a Tim Hortons- both had no idea who attacked them or why.

    We are seeing a number of people arrested for breaking downtown $50,000 shop windows or assaulting people who have conviction records numbering in the hundreds. Unfortunately under current federal policy these people are released by the courts usually within 24 hours. Even the local police fear their lives and have refused to go to homeless (substance abuse) camps in numbers less than six heavily armed police. Another recent event occurred in Nanaimo when the shop owner victim of multiple thefts visited the local homeless camp with several friends to retrieve his stolen goods. He was shot numerous times but luckily survived.

    Since most fentanyl originates from China and Vancouver is the closest North American port, this is something that is destined for all Canadian cities. It is cheap, very powerful and is used to enhance everything from cannabis to cocaine. The average street level addict cost each city about $200,000 per year in property damage, health costs and harm reduction.

    Perhaps it is time to distinguish between homelessness and street living substance abuse, as both have different causes a different solutions. You can’t lump them together or you will never resolve the issue.

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