Skip to main content Skip to footer

Leaders from 11 Western Canadian cities issue formal request to Statistics Canada: halt release of annual Crime Severity Index rankings until formal consultations are held with smaller communities and Indigenous leadership

Saskatoon, SK - Elected officials from eleven municipalities, all in Western Canada, issued a public call-to-action today for Statistics Canada: an immediate stop in the publication of the Crime Severity Index (CSI) rankings for communities until consultations are held with smaller communities and Indigenous leadership.

The call-to-action stems from a full-day conference initiated by the City of North Battleford and held today in Saskatoon. Leadership consented to the release of weighted Crime Severity Index data only to its initially-intended recipients – police services of jurisdiction, which will use and properly interpret the data for police matters and resource deployment.            

The communities in attendance unanimously supported the formal request for change in reporting by Statistics Canada citing the following concerns as rationale:       

  • Significant economic damage to each community, including stagnant population numbers and struggles attracting new business. “By driving away investment and recruitment and creating fear and division, this statistic perpetuates the very trends it reports on.”;
  • Difficulty attracting qualified job seekers and new business;
  • Limited useful application of the Crime Severity Index data for communities with smaller populations, including inaccurate statistics of hub communities which have greatly fluctuating populations;
  • Data provided by Statistics Canada in the dissemination of the Crime Severity Index rankings for communities with populations of over 10,000 has been categorically misinterpreted and misunderstood by the general public and media, leading to inappropriate and improper application of the data, and, without a broad understanding of its true meaning, is not a true measure of a community’s safety;
  • Analysis of the Crime Severity Index by the communities present has revealed information which supports the communities’ assertions that the Index is a tool that promotes systemic racial bias; and,
  • Negatively impacts the reconciliation process, causing additional harm to Indigenous people. 

Citing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action related to the collection of data involving Indigenous victims of crime, Sweetgrass First Nation Chief Lori Whitecalf said the annual release of the Crime Severity Index results in its own victimization of First Nations peoples.

“The outcome of the CSI causes racism and hateful statements to be directed at First Nations people. This indexing undermines reconciliation, and it takes us back to when those eight First Nations leaders were hanged [at Fort Battleford in 1885]. The social issues in Western Canada are there because Western Canada was born to look after ‘the Indian problem’. We need to change that now.” 
Chief Whitecalf also challenged the Federal Government relating to use of data from her community, which is protected, explaining there is a duty to consult First Nations to include their data in federal statistics - which has not been done.           

Statistics Canada recognized that the current ranking of CSI statistics is unintentionally harming the communities on the list.    

If the threshold was removed, North Battleford, which is currently indicated to be the highest Crime Severity Index in Canada according to the Statistics Canada list, would be ranked as number 16 on a list of RCMP detachment areas in Saskatchewan only. This does not include other smaller communities across Canada in other provinces.

North Battleford Mayor David Gillan said that part of the issues plaguing his community is the general lack of understanding by the public and the media as it relates to the statistical calculations. For instance, Gillan questions why smaller communities are pitted directly against other larger metropolitan centres, when the population number is part of the statistical equation. “This arbitrary number of reporting data at 10,000 people or more is not an indicator of a community’s overall safety.”          

While the officials in attendance from Statistics Canada were able to present and outline how statistics are calculated to the attendees, they were unable to provide an official comment on the group’s assertions that the publication of this list is systemically biased against Indigenous peoples.              




For more information:
Candace Toma, Public & Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator
306-441-0713 |

This website uses cookies to enhance usability and provide you with a more personal experience. By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies as explained in our Privacy Policy.