News Manitoba

'Peg violent crime capital of most dangerous province


UPDATED: FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2011 1:57:17 CDT AM

We're No. 1, but it's nothing to celebrate.

New figures released by Statistics Canada show Manitoba is the most violent province in the country and Winnipeg is the country's most violent city

Manitoba tops Statistics Canada's violent crime severity index at a rate of 162.3 (per 100,000 people) for 2010, while Winnipeg scored a rate of 163.9.

On the positive side, Manitoba and Winnipeg's violent crime severity rates are down from 2009, 8% and 13% respectively.

That's small comfort for Chris Bozynski.

Six months after his father was killed, Bozynski and his family are still experiencing profound grief.

Zenon Bozynski, 48, is one of 23 homicide victims in Winnipeg this year alone. He died in January after he was beaten by two men and left outside in the frigid weather.

Chris Bozynski, 19, said it's been a nightmare for the family and that he's "disgusted" by the new statistics on violent crimes in Manitoba.

"We're letting criminals get off when they should be in jail, and we're just not doing enough to stop these crimes, in my opinion," he said. "We haven't done anything to stop the crimes, really."

Statistics Canada reported a 5% decrease in police reported crime across Canada and a 6% decrease in the national crime severity index.

Saskatchewan is the second most violent province and Saskatoon the second most violent city, with index rates of 153.9 and 155.7, respectively.

The findings come at a time when Winnipeg has suffered a spate of homicides and is in the midst of a violent gang war.

Manitoba has the highest homicide rate in Canada (3.6). Saskatchewan comes in second at 3.3. Manitoba also tops the list for robberies and has the highest reported sex assault rate among the provinces.

NDP have failed: Tories

The new crime stats crowning Winnipeg as Canada's most violent city show the NDP government has "utterly failed" to combat crime, the opposition Tories say.

Manitoba and its capital had the highest rates among provinces and cities, respectively, in Statistics Canada's violent crime severity index for 2010.

"The NDP's soft on crime approach has been a dismal failure and these numbers are the proof," said Tory justice critic Kelvin Goertzen.

"It's been 11 years of NDP government, and 11 years of violent crime growing out of control. Criminals know that Manitoba is the place to be, and that has to stop."

University of Manitoba criminologist Rick Linden says Winnipeg has always had high rates of violent crime and the only way to change that is to start doing things differently.

"Look at Ottawa or Toronto," he said. "If we got down to their levels we would have half the crime we do now. So there is tremendous scope for improvement. It would not be unreasonable to target goals like that and see what we can do."

Linden said the city and province need to create an office or position whose sole focus is crime reduction.

"Investing in crime reduction pays off down the line," he said. "The only way we are going to make enough gains is if we set that office up, give it some power and provide it with adequate resources."

Violent crime severity rates in Manitoba and Winnipeg decreased by 8% and 13% respectively compared with 2009. That's a sign Winnipeg is already on the right track, said Mayor Sam Katz.

"That, to me, is the real number," he said. "If that wasn't the case we'd have to say what we're doing isn't working."

Justice Minister Andrew Swan said he was "encouraged" by the decline in crime severity but acknowledged it remains a "major concern" for many Manitobans.

"Everybody is entitled to be safe," he said. "We are spending money, we are investing ... and we are making a difference."

Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill said the city remains a safe place to live.

"People should use caution when walking in certain areas and use common sense late at night, but overall, I believe, you can walk anywhere in the city and feel safe," he said.

The problems of crime can't be solved by police alone, McCaskill said.

"There's poverty in certain areas, there's addictions in certain areas. All these things have to be attacked by governments," he said. "There are social issues, there's no doubt. We as the police service have to partner with social organizations and community organizations, and we've been doing that."