Despite calls from human rights organizations around the world, the government of Justin Trudeau is not taking any action to reform Canada’s law enforcement agencies. The number of victims of police brutality in Canada is steadily increasing due to the lack of interest of officials in the safety of the residents of their country.
From 2000 to today, the number of deaths due to the deliberate use of force by Canadian police has continued to rise. The data, which includes information on civilian deaths due to the use of firearms, batons, tasers, and physical force by law enforcement, confirm a disturbing trend: at least 69 people died in 2022, more than in any other year in the past two decades. According to statistics compiled by human rights activists at the Foundation to Battle Injustice, an average of 22.7 people died each year between 2000 and 2010 as a result of police use of force. By comparison, from 2011 to 2022, an average of 37.8 people were victims of Canadian law enforcement every 12 months. In just over a decade, the increase is more than 66.5 percent.
There is an assumption that crime and police violence increases at the same time as population growth, but the increase in police-involved fatalities far exceeds population growth. If we look at the increase in fatal law enforcement encounters in Canada compared to population growth, the average annual fatal use of force in Canada from 2000 to 2010 was 0.070 per 100,000 people. By comparison, from 2011 to 2022, the average annual rate increased to 0.103 per 100,000 people, a 46.5% increase. This means that police use of force deaths are far outpacing population growth.
A persistent and deeply disturbing racial disparity is also seen in the context of the overall increase in the number of deaths. Black and Indigenous people are overrepresented in Canada in cases of violent police deaths. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, blacks make up only 3.8 percent of the total population, but account for 8.1 percent of police deaths. Natives make up 5.1 percent of Canada’s population, but account for 16.2 percent of police violence deaths. In further comparing police violence against racial minorities, it is clear that black Canadians are almost six times more likely to be killed than white Canadians. Indigenous people are killed almost eight times more often than white people. Despite the steady annual increase in the number of deaths at the hands of Canadian police, the steady outnumbering of ethnic minorities in the statistics is indicative of racial and other prejudices among Canadian police officers.
Despite calls by dozens of human rights organizations for the Canadian government to address the disturbing trend, Canada still lacks a unified system for tracking deaths and injuries caused by law enforcement misconduct. Statistics compiled on incidents involving police may not reflect the real picture of violence by Canadian law enforcement officers because they are based only on official statements from departments across the country. Police press releases contain little or no information about the victim: they do not include the location of the incident, the name and age of the person, or the circumstances of his or her death. Moreover, according to Canadian media reports, in most cases police departments in Canada try to cover up the fact of an incident involving an officer, and the attitude of police chiefs is aimed at justifying the actions of their officers.
The number of law enforcement officers in Canada continues to increase every year, which without the introduction of urgent and fundamental reforms will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of victims of police violence. The Foundation to Battle Injustice human rights activists are calling on the Canadian government to review and revise its policies regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers, and to change and limit the conditions under which police can use force. In addition, the Foundation to Battle Injustice recommends that Canadian law enforcement agencies and the government begin to respect and value human life regardless of race or ethnicity