- Canada scores a “B” and ranks 8th out of 17 peer countries.
- Canada’s burglary rate is five times that of the best-performing peer country.
- A sense of personal and community safety is essential to a high quality of life.
Putting the burglary rate in context
A sense of personal and community safety is essential to a high quality of life. Financial, physical, and psychological effects of crime reduce levels of trust within a society and therefore have an impact on social cohesion. Breakdown in social cohesion is thus measured most directly by assessing levels of crime.
The Conference Board ranking analyzes statistics on crime against people (homicide rates), and against property (burglary rates). Both forms of crime can have a major impact on the well-being of victims and on the wider society.
The total social and economic costs of Criminal Code offences in Canada were $31.4 billion in 20081—or $943 per capita—according to a 2012 study for the Department of Justice. This figure includes:
- $15 billion in costs for the Canadian criminal justice system (such as policing and court costs)
- $14.3 billion in costs borne by the victims (such as medical costs, lost wages, and stolen property)
- $2.1 billion in third-party costs (such as costs to other people hurt during the crime, as well as costs to run programs such as shelters, victim services, and crime prevention)
Reducing crime would free up funds for other programs that could improve productivity and competitiveness—such as education, skills training, health, or advancements in innovation and technology.
How does Canada’s burglary rate compare to those of peer countries?
The Conference Board uses burglary data from the United Nation’s periodic surveys of crime trends.2 The data show that Canada has a lower burglary rate than that of nine of its peer countries. In 2010, the most recent year of data available, Canada had 578 burglaries per 100,000 people. This was five times the rate of the best-ranked country, Japan. Canada earns a “B” grade and ranks 8th out of 17 peer countries. Denmark is the worst performer on this indicator, with 1,939 recorded burglaries per 100,000 people.
Until 2007, Canada recorded a higher burglary rate than the United States. Canada’s burglary rate has been dropping at a faster pace than the U.S. rate; Canada ranks better on this indicator than the United States.
Statistics Canada reports that the police-reported crime rate has been dropping since 1992.3 The decline has been more prevalent for non-violent crimes (including burglaries).
Has Canada’s burglary rate increased?
Canada’s burglary rate has declined steadily since 2003 (the first year for which comparable international data are available). Between 2003 and 2010, the burglary rate fell from 901 burglaries per 100,000 population to 578.
Statistics Canada’s 2009 General Social Survey reported that 93 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and over were satisfied with their personal safety from crime; only slightly lower than in 2004 (94 per cent).4
Use the pull-down menu to compare the change in Canada’s burglary rate with that of its peers.
What can Canada do to reduce crime?
Although many still believe that “cracking down on crime” is the best way to protect communities, a recent Conference Board report found that other forms of crime prevention produce better results. In particular, approaches that address the root causes of crime are proving to be the most successful. An analysis of successful programs in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. yielded the following recommendations:
- Begin with an understanding of the community and its problems.
- Develop programs and policies to deal with these problems in their community context, and focus on crime reduction.
- Learn from and build on successful prevention programs developed elsewhere.
- Stay focused—prevention programs will not succeed without a great deal of effort.
- Secure commitment from senior government officials.
- Provide adequate resources.
- Ensure cooperation and coordination among organizations targeting crime reduction.
- Take a comprehensive approach to prevention and develop multi-faceted strategies.
Learn more about crime reduction programs:
Making Communities Safer: Lessons Learned Combatting Auto Theft in Winnipeg, Ottawa: The Conference Board of Canada, 2008.
1 Department of Justice Canada, “Costs of Crime in Canada, 2008” (accessed October 30, 2012).
2 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, United Nations Surveys on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (accessed November 20, 2012).
3 Statistics Canada, “Police-Reported Crime Statistics in Canada, 2011,” Juristat, July 2012, Catalogue no. 85-002-X (accessed October 30, 2012).
4 Statistics Canada, “Canadians’ Perceptions of Personal Safety and Crime, 2009,” Juristat, December 2011, Catalogue no. 85-002-X (accessed October 30, 2012).