Crime Costs Canada $43 Billion Per Year: Department of Justice Report

Crime Costs Canada $43 Billion Per Year: Department of Justice Report
Members of the Toronto Police Service work the scene of a quadruple shooting near the intersection of Dundas Street and Sherbourne Street in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto on Sept. 16, 2023. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press)
Andrew Chen
Crime costs Canada more than $43 billion a year, according to a recent Department of Justice report. This figure factors in both tangible expenses like police force spending and intangible costs, including the pain and suffering experienced by victims.

Drawing on the latest data available, the report estimated the expenses incurred by crime in Canada for the year 2014. These costs were categorized into three distinct groups: criminal justice system expenses, direct costs borne by crime victims, and third-party expenses. The study was first reported by Blacklock's Reporter.

The overall tangible expenses related to crime in Canada amounted to approximately $28.7 billion in 2014, which is equated to a per capita cost of $807 per year. Specifically, the costs associated with running the Canadian criminal justice system in that year were estimated to be slightly above $12.5 billion, covering expenditures for policing, courts, prosecution, correctional services, and legal aid.

Researcher Ting Li underscored that victims' traumatic experiences can lead to substantial pain and suffering, which this study recognizes as an intangible cost not tethered to market value. However, quantifying these intangible costs into monetary terms involves complex calculations. The report, nevertheless, assigns the intangible cost at more than $14 billion annually.

Mr. Li noted that assigning a monetary value to intangible costs may appear insensitive, yet it serves as a crucial element in estimating the expenses associated with social phenomena.

"Intangible costs are very personal and affect victims acutely," the report said. "By no means does this study imply that the effects of crime are 'worth' the values assigned to them."

The report took a cautious approach by employing conservative estimates to avoid the influence of extreme values, it said. Additionally, the researcher pointed out that due to data limitations, such as costs incurred by offenders and their families and the costs of the many social services that support them, the reported total cost of crime in Canada for 2014, though exceeding $43.2 billion, is "largely an understatement."

Growing Crime

The findings in the Justice Department report were derived from data for the year 2014, a year selected at random, according to Blacklock's. However, a recent report from Statistics Canada, released on July 27, indicated an increase in the crime rate.

The latest crime statistics reveal significant shifts in various categories compared to 2014. Specifically, homicides surged by 54 percent to 796 incidents; attempted murders increased by 21 percent to 748; assaults climbed to 185,199, marking a 21 percent rise from 2014; and vehicle thefts increased by 13 percent to 83,416.

In contrast, robberies decreased by 11 percent to 18,618; breaking and entering cases dropped by 17 percent to 125,914.

Despite these findings, Canada's newly appointed justice minister, Arif Virani, seems to be downplaying concerns related to the rising crime rates. In July, he was quoted by Reuters as stating that it is unlikely Canadians are at greater risk from crime. Instead, he noted a prevailing sense emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic that people tend to perceive their safety at risk.

Mr. Virani's remarks sparked criticism from Conservative MP Dan Albas, who suggested that they demonstrate how out of touch the Liberal government is.

"Growing crime is a reality adversely affecting many Canadians. It is not a 'perception' problem, as the new Minister wrongly claims," Mr. Albas said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Doug Lett contributed to this report.