Updated for 2018

Canada is not known for being a dangerous place. In fact, it is one of the safest countries in the world. While the most dangerous country on Earth, El Salvador, has a murder rate of 82.84 per 100,000 people, Canada has a murder rate of 1.68 per 100,000 people, among the lowest on the planet. Nonetheless, with about 600 murders per year, murders do happen in the country and it is important to be safe.

Understanding which cities are the safest in Canada can ensure you have a great visit to the country. If you are immigrating to Canada, then knowing the cities to avoid can result in you having a happy and fulfilling life in the country.

Generally, the most dangerous places are the territories but the most dangerous cities are going to be found in the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The province with the lowest murder rate is Prince Edward Island, but half the country has murder rates under 2 per 100,000 people. Here are the homicide raters per 100,000 people in Canada over the last decade and a half of or so.

Canada 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Newfoundland and Labrador 0.39 2.4 1.37 0.59 0.98 0.20 0.77 0.76 0.57 1.33 0.38 0.57 1.32
Prince Edward Island 0.00 0.00 0.73 0.00 1.43 0.00 0.00 0.69 0.00 0.69 2.05 0.68 0.00
Nova Scotia 1.49 2.13 1.71 1.39 1.28 1.60 2.34 2.33 1.80 1.38 0.64 1.27 1.37
New Brunswick 0.93 1.20 0.94 1.08 0.40 1.60 1.20 1.06 0.79 0.93 1.33 1.46 1.45
Quebec 1.47 1.32 1.22 1.17 1.19 1.12 1.07 1.31 1.34 0.86 0.85 0.93 0.80
Ontario 1.51 1.75 1.55 1.58 1.36 1.36 1.44 1.21 1.22 1.24 1.14 1.26 1.47
Manitoba 4.26 4.16 3.29 5.11 4.48 4.67 3.69 4.30 4.24 4.03 3.51 3.63 3.19
Saskatchewan 3.91 4.33 4.23 3.00 2.96 3.50 3.14 3.56 2.67 2.80 2.14 3.79 4.69
Alberta 2.65 3.25 2.78 2.51 3.06 2.59 2.04 2.95 2.21 2.05 2.57 3.17 2.73
British Columbia 2.72 2.41 2.55 2.04 2.67 2.65 1.86 1.96 1.56 1.66 1.92 2.03 1.83
Yukon 22.24 3.13 0.00 6.14 9.05 5.94 2.89 0.00 0.00 0.00 8.11 2.67 10.67
Northwest Territories 9.24 0.00 0.00 4.59 6.87 4.58 2.31 6.90 11.46 4.56 6.82 11.34 6.75
Nunavut 13.40 6.59 6.49 22.38 12.66 18.64 17.99 20.47 14.40 11.29 10.93 5.52 2.70

In this article, we are going to be looking at the cities that have a crime rate that is higher than the Canadian average. All in all there are nine cities that fall into this category. 

Updated for 2018

 

Kelowna

Kelowna by Peter C

by Peter C / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A small city in the middle of British Columbia, Kelowna actually very recently had a very high crime rate for its size (a violent crime rate of 81.8 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012). In 2013, Kelowna had the highest overall crime rate out of all major cities in Canada, and it saw its overall crime rate increase by six percent from 2011 to 2012. Despite being a fraction of the size of the largest city in Canada, Toronto, Kelowna had a crime rate that had three times that city, while Toronto actually has the lowest crime rate of any major city in Canada, despite being so large. It should be noted though that since 2006, the crime rate of Kelowna fell by nearly 20 percent in total.

Crime Rate West Coast

Kelowna's Drug Problem Property Crime in Kelowna

 

Have Things Improved?

We originally wrote this article in spring 2015. In 2016, Macleans, ranked Kelowna among the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities at 9th overall, falling in the Top 10 for non-violent crimes and just outside of the Top 25 for violent crimes. Kelowna also had just about the worst drug possession rate in the entire country.

However, violent crime has been on a downward trend for nearly a decade, from 104.3 in 2009 to 62.7 in 2016. Non-violent crime is still a problem though; Macleans has knocked them down to 34th.

 

Montreal

Montreal by |vv@ldzen|

by |[email protected]| / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Montreal is the only city in Quebec to have a crime rate higher than the national average. The crime rate was 87.8 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015, and Montreal has been the murder capital of Canada a total of three times, third most in the entire country. In 2014, the crime rate of Montreal was quite high, though the violent crime rate and homicide rate were both lower. 

Crime Rate Quebec

Montreal vs. Boston Montreal vs. Adelaide

 

Have Things Improved?

Montreal Visible Minorities

Yes! Things have improved!

In the 2016 Macleans study ranked Montreal outside of the Top 25 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada. Montreal's violent crime is still not good - Macleans ranked Montreal in the Top 20 cities with the most violent crime, but Montreal's non-violent crime rate places in just barely in the Top 50. 

More recently Macleans has knocked Montreal down to 97th overall, which is much better.

Montreal Foreign Born Population

 

Halifax

Halifax by Brian Burke

by Brian Burke / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Located on the east coast, and the only major city east of Montreal to have a higher crime rate than the Canadian average, when we first wrote this Halifax currently had a violent crime rate of 92.4 per 100,000 inhabitants. While not ranking at the top for murders, Halifax actually had the highest rate of gun-related violent crime out of all the major Canadian cities. In 2012, there were 56 shootings and 12 murders, which is quite high for a city of its size. 

Crime Rate Maritimes

Halifax vs. Wellington

 

Have Things Improved?

Absolutely! Halifax fell outside the Top 40 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada in Macleans' 2016 report, though they were still ranked 25th in Violent Crime Rate. It's Halifax's Non-Violent Crime Rate which really improved, and Halifax was no longer ranked in the Top 50.

Halifax is doing even better now, having dropped to 121st overall.

 

Vancouver

Vancouver by Colby Stopa

by Colby Stopa / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

One of the largest cities in Canada, located in British Columbia, Vancouver had a high violent crime rate and one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Canada. The Lower Eastside has often cited as the most dangerous neighborhood in North America, and Vancouver does have problems with gangs. Vancouver has been chosen twice as the murder capital of Canada, in 2015 currently had a violent crime rate of 92.6 per 100,000 inhabitants. Of the 17 major North American cities of a similar size to Greater Vancouver (four million people), Vancouver had the third highest crime rate on the continent

Vancouver vs. LA Vancouver vs. Melbourne

 

Have Things Improved?

Vancouver Visible Minorities

A bit.

In Macleans' 2016 study, Vancouver was ranked in the Top 15 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada by overall Crime Severity Index, Violent Crime Rate and Non-Violent Crime Rate. Sure, that was better than it was, but Vancouver was still far less safe than many other places in Canada.

However, things improved and now Vancouver is only 35th overall. Still not comparable with the other largest cities in Canada, but better than it used to be.

Montreal Foreign Born Population

 

Edmonton

Edmonton by IQRemix

by IQRemix / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The capital of the rich province of Alberta, Edmonton had a crime rate of 95.8 per 100,000 inhabitants when we wrote this article. The crime rate increased since the oil boom and a large transient population has begun to move into the city as a result. Edmonton has also been the murder capital of Canada two times in the last 34 years. In 2014, while the homicide rate of Canada was falling and reaching its lowest level in half a century, Edmonton still sat in the top five for its crime rate. 

More about Crime in Edmonton

 

Have Things Improved?

Slowly, things are improving.

The 2016 Macleans study had Edmonton 10th Most Dangerous City in Canada by Crime Severity index. It was also 10th for Violent Crime Rate. Only the Non-Violent Crime Rate was a little bit, outside of the Top 10.

Now Edmonton is 31st overall, which is better, for sure. 

 

Regina

Regina by By Ccyyrree (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

by CCyyrree / Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0

Often making the list of most violent cities in Canada, Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, had a crime rate of 110.1 per 100,000 people. In 2015 Regina was the murder capital of Canada. In 2014, Regina had the highest crime and murder rate in Canada

Crime Rate Prairies

Regina's Property Crime Problem

 

Have Things Improved?

Relatively speaking, yes!

in 2016, Macleans ranked Regina as one of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada by Crime Severity index (8th most dangerous overall). All metrics were worse than Edmonton at that time.

But now Regina finds itself in the Top 20 instead of the Top 10. That's what I call progress!

 

Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay by Ben Babcock

by Ben Babcock / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Located in Ontario, near the Manitoba border, Thunder Bay recently a violent crime rate of roughly 118.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2014, Thunder Bay had the second highest crime rate in Canada after Winnipeg, with several homicides a year happening in the city, which itself does not have a large population. The same was true in 2016.

Ontario Crime Rate

 

Have Things Improved?

Yes! Things have improved!

Though violent crime was still very much a problem, especially a few years ago, Thunder Bay's Non-Violent Crime Rate has dropped considerably, so that Thunder Bay found itself as only the 25th Most Dangerous City in Canada in 2017, which is an improvement!

Things have improved even more in 2018, with Thunder Bay now ranked a shocking 58th most dangerous. This could be a statistical anomaly but it could also be a trend! We'll have to wait and see to find out.

 

Saskatoon

Downtown Saskatoon by Reg Natarajan

by Raja Natarajan / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Another city that often tops the lists of most dangerous cities in Canada is Saskatoon. Located in the province of Saskatchewan, it had a violent crime rate of 126.4 per 100,000 people. In 2009, Saskatoon had the highest crime rate in Canada, which was roughly 163 percent of the national average, ranking first in aggravated assault and robbery, and fourth in homicide and sexual assault. 

 

Have Things Improved?

A bit.

Much like Regina, Saskatoon was still one of The Most Dangerous Cities in Canada (7th Most Dangerous last year). In the 2016 Macleans report, Saskatoon ranked in the Top 10 for overall Crime Severity Index, for Violent Crime and for Non-Violent Crime.

Howeve, the latest edition of the Macleans report has Saskatoon down to 22nd, which is better than Regina!

 

Winnipeg

Winnipeg by AJ Batac

by AJ Batac / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Generally considered to be the most violent large city in Canada, Winnipeg had a crime rate of 145.4 crimes per 100,000 people, with an all-time high of 187 crimes per 100,000 people in 2009. Since 1981, the furthest back we can go for murder rates, Winnipeg has been listed as the Murder Capital of Canada 16 times in total, which is double of the next closest city of Ottawa, and over four times more than Montreal. 

Winnipeg's Violent Crime Problem

 

Have Things Improved?

Yes! Things have really, really improved!

In 2016, Winnipeg had one of the worst Violent Crime rates in Canada, putting it Top 5 in Macleans' report of The Most Dangerous Cities in Canada. But Winnipeg was only in the Top 20 for Crime Severity Index and 30th for Non-Violent Crime. Those were big improvements for a city that has long been known as the most dangerous in the entire country.

In 2018 we find Winnipeg at a positively shocking 40th most dangerous, so things are looking better and better and we're going to have to stop thinking about Winnipeg as the most dangerous city in Canada.

 

As previously mentioned Canada is quite a safe country and the crime rate has continued to fall for the past several decades. In 2013, Canada reported a total of 505 murders, its lowest level since 1966. In comparison to Canada's 505 murders on 35 million people, New York City had nearly as many murders (419) but has only one-third of the population. Not that long ago, the United States, with 10 times the population of Canada, had 2,771 percent more murders than their northern neighbours. All in all one can say that migrating or visiting Canada is not something to avoid due to crime rates.

 

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Canada 2018

Listed by Crime Severity Index, here are the Top 10 dangerous cities currently

  1. North Battleford, Saskatchewan
  2. Thompson, Manitoba
  3. Prince albert, Saskatchewan
  4. Williams Lake, BC
  5. Red Deer, Alberta
  6. Langley City, BC
  7. Portage la Prairie
  8. Wetaskiwin, Alberta
  9. Vernon, BC
  10. Selkirk, Manitoba

So, as a new immigrant, you're likely better off settling in larger cities that have reputations for being dangerous than these smaller places that seem to have gotten a lot more dangerous as of late.

This article was commissioned by George Laczko.


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