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Canada - Crime and Safety

As with all countries at the moment, there is a threat from terrorism. Busy areas are most at risk and all residents are advised to be vigilant. In recent years the Canadian government has made arrests which have prevented terrorist attacks and have active investigations into terrorist activity.

There are no specific risks from crime which visitors and residents would not encounter in any other country. Everyone is advised to take care with their valuables and take the same precautions that they would in any other part of the world. Those who are in tourist areas should beware of pickpockets and other opportunist thieves.

As with all countries there are parts of the country which have a relatively high crime rate but there are also many areas where it is considered to be fairly safe. Some cities in Canada can match the US and the UK for rates of serious crime but there are many cities where the levels are significantly lower. Recent studies have shown that crime rates in the country fell in 2009 to a rate almost 20% lower than 10 years previously and incidences of serious crime have dropped. Levels of crimes committed by younger people are also dropping. Levels of serious assault and robbery have dropped in recent years but there have been more attempted murders and offences connected to firearms. Violent crimes make up 20% of total reported crimes in Canada in 2009.

There is a listing of the safest cities in Canada put together by Maclean. The 100 largest cities are assessed and ranked according to crime levels. The city of Caledon in Ontario is considered to be one of the safest places in the country with crime levels which are around 85% below the national average. In recent years Caledon has been joined by Oromocto in New Brunswick and Levis in Quebec as one of the safest places to live. Quebec City ranks highly on the list with a crime level which is 40% below that of the national average. In 2007 there was not a single murder in Quebec City, which made it one of 34 cities on the list which were murder free in 2007.

If you are considering moving to Toronto or Montreal, the two largest cities in the country, you will also find a relatively low crime rate. Toronto ranked at 29th on the list of 100 safest cities in 2007, while Montreal was at number 19. This is good news for expats as these two cities are high on the list of favoured destinations in Canada.

The city on the list with the highest crime rating was Saskatoon, which was 163% higher than the national average. Winnipeg had a crime rating of more than 150% above the national average and the city of Regina was more than 130% above the national average. These three cities regularly feature at the top of the list of places with the highest crime rates. This is considered to be because there are a number of poor areas in each of them and gang crime is high. These areas also have higher levels of unemployment which is one of the symptoms of a high crime rate. Other cities which regularly feature in the top ten of highest crime rates include Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and Chilliwack.

One of the crimes which features strongly in most areas is that of breaking and entering, although rates are higher in the west of Canada. The top 16 cities for this crime are all west of Winnipeg and 13 of these cities can be found in British Columbia.

In order to contact the emergency services in Canada you can call 911, as you would in the US. This can connect you to police, fire and ambulance services. If you are unsure you can also dial 0 for an operator who can then connect you to the service that you require.

Police in Canada are frequently armed but only when they are on duty. In the US, officers are permitted to carry a gun off duty but this is not the case in Canada. Gun ownership is restricted and those who are found to be carrying hand guns in public are treated as criminals.

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