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Sudbury's murder rate increased in 2017

But that's because the city had no murders the year before
Police crime scene tape

Greater Sudbury's murder rate rose slightly last year, but only because it was zero in 2016 and it still remains one of the lowest in Canada.

According to figures released last week by Statistics Canada, the city's murder rate was 0.61 per 100,000 people. Only Saguenay (0), Gatineau (0.30), Sherbrooke (0.49) and Kingston (0.59) fared better among major cities in Canada.

By comparison, between 2007 and 2016, Sudbury's homicide rate averaged 1.15 a year. Canada has a whole had a rate of 1.80 in 2017, with the 10-year average sitting at 1.67.

On the high end of the scale, Thunder Bay (5.80) had the dubious distinction of having Canada's highest rate among the nation's largest cities, followed Abbotsford-Mission (4.72) and Edmonton (3.49). 

“The good news for Thunder Bay is that the homicide rate for 2017 is down from 2016 when it stood at 6.62 per 100,000,” writes Livio Di Matteo, economics professor at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, on his economist's blog. “The bad news is if one takes the average homicide rates for all CMAs for the period 2006 to 2016 ... Thunder Bay also ranks the highest at an average of 4.04 per 100,000, just ahead of Winnipeg at an average of 3.69. 

“As for Sudbury, its homicide rate is up from last year — when it stood at zero — but given the rankings there does not seem to be that much to worry about there.”

Overall, StatsCan reported Canada's homicide numbers hit its highest rate in almost a decade in 2017. Much of the increase can be attributed to more firearm-related and gang-related homicide, which increased 18 per cent compared to 2016, rising to 0.72 per 100,000 population, the highest rate since 1992. 

In raw numbers, Canadian police reported there were 660 homicide victims in Canada in 2017, 48 more than in 2016. The homicide rate rose seven per cent in 2017 to 1.80 victims per 100,000 population, the highest level since 2009.

The increase in homicides was largely driven by British Columbia and Quebec, StatsCan said.

Homicide is not the only violent offence in Canada to increase since 2016. StatsCan said rates for other serious violent offences, including attempted murder (up 4 per cent), sexual assault (up 13 per cent), robbery (up 2 per cent) and aggravated assault (up 1 per cent), also increased last year. 

“Despite year-over-year fluctuations, Canada's homicide rate has generally declined over the last few decades,” StatsCan said in its news release. “The rate of homicides in 2017 was 41 per cent lower than the peak in 1975 (excluding the 329 victims killed in the Air India incident that occurred in 1985). 

“More recently, however, the rate has increased slightly, and was 7 per cent higher than the previous 10-year average in 2017.”

Read the full report here.