Bill C-46: Records Applications Post-Mills,
A Caselaw Review
3. Statistics on Sexual Assault
Data on crime in Canada are gathered and reported on by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), which is part of Statistics Canada. The CCJS collects data from different sources such as, court data, police reported data (measuring what is reported to the police), and victimization surveys that poll the general public.  Data regarding sexual offences are available in various CCJS publications. The report, Women in Canada, also profiles the experiences of women as victims and offenders in the criminal justice system. Roberts' study for the Department of Justice entitled, Prevalence of Sexual Assault and Therapeutic Records, also provided data.
The General Social Survey (GSS) found no significant change in the rates of self-reported sexual assault between 1993 and 1999. After having decreased for seven previous years, in 2000 and 2001 there were consecutive increases of 1% in police-recorded violent crimes., Violent offences increased by 5% between 1977 and 2002, accounting for 13% of all Criminal Code offences in 2001 and in 2002. The crime rate declined slightly by 0.6% in 2002, with violent crimes decreasing by 2%, and all levels of sexual offences comprising 9% of violent crimes reported to the police in Canada.
Amendments to the Criminal Code in 1983 replaced the crimes of rape and indecent assault with a three-tiered categorization of sexual assault offences: level one sexual assault (with minimal physical injury to the victim); level two sexual assault (with a weapon, threats to use a weapon, or causing bodily harm); and, level three aggravated sexual assault (wounds, maims, disfigures, or endangers the life of the victim)., The CCJS report on Sexual Offences in Canada explains that "The goals of these amendments were to emphasize the violent rather than the sexual nature of such crimes, and to increase victims' confidence in the criminal justice system and willingness to report these crimes to the police." After adoption of these reforms the rates of reported sexual assaults began to rise, reflecting increases in level one sexual offences.
As in previous years, in 2002 the vast majority (88%) of police-reported sexual assaults were classified as level one offences. Other sexual offences accounted for 10%, and the more serious levels 2 and 3 composed 2% of all sexual offences. In 2002 there were 27,100 reported cases of sexual assaults. This was 36% lower than in 1993, mainly due to decreases in level one sexual offences. Level 2 and level 3 sexual assaults also declined by 60% between 1993 and 2002. Other sexual offences (which are primarily offences against children) fluctuated, but overall fell by 40% during this period. The fairly low rates of levels 2 and 3 and other sexual assaults account for these large changes in terms of percentages. In terms of the numbers of offences, however, all levels of sexual assault have remained relatively stable since 1999, when the rate was 89 reported incidents per 100,000 population in Canada. By 2002 the national average had declined only slightly, to 86 reported sexual offences per 100,000 population.
Significant variations in the rates of police-reported sexual offences were evidenced across Canada in 2002. Nunavut reported the highest rates of violent crime and sexual offences (1,017 sexual offences per 100,000 population). The Northwest Territories (473) and Yukon (261) followed in rates of sexual offences. Saskatchewan (160) and Manitoba (139) reported the highest rates among all of the provinces. Ontario (74) and Quebec (71) had the lowest rates of sexual offences, below the national average of 86 per 100,000 population. Between 2001 and 2002 increased rates were reported in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the territories. Rates in other provinces decreased during this period.
Reported cases of sexual offences in Canadian cities also varied widely. In 2002, the highest rates of sexual offences were in Saskatoon (155 incidents per 100,000 population), Sudbury (119 incidents per 100,000 population) and Regina (109 incidents per 100,000 population). The lowest rates were reported in Ottawa (46), Windsor (54) and Quebec City (59).,
After a decade of increases, in 1993 police-reported sexual assaults reached a peak of 136 per 100,000 population in Canada. In addition to legislative reforms and demographic changes, researchers have attributed this steady rise to several factors. They point out that victims were encouraged to come forward by significant changes in Canadian society such as reduced stigma attached to victims of sexual assault, as well as, improvements to the social economic and political status of women; a heightened focus on victims of crime and the growth in services and initiatives to support the victim, including sexual assault centres [and shelters]; special training of police to deal with victims, and; the growth of treatment teams in hospitals trained to respond to victims of sexual assault and gather evidence that could be used at trial.
Thus, increasing numbers of sexual assault centres and the services they provided were among the changes which caused greater reporting of sexual offences to police to be achieved. It is possible that cutbacks in such services represent one of the factors that have contributed to the declines in reported cases of sexual offences since 1993.
-  Data has been gathered through the Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR1) since 1962 and the Incident-Based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2) since 1994. The incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) survey captures detailed information on individual criminal incidents reported to police, including characteristics of victims, accused persons and incidents. In 2002, 154 police services in 9 provinces participated in this survey representing 59% of the national volume of reported crime. Other than Ontario and Quebec, the data are primarily from urban police departments. The reader is cautioned that this data are not nationally representative." Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada", (23:6), p.6.The General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization is based on a sample and occurs every 5 years. The last year completed was 1999 and it is currently in the field. According to the CCJS study of sexual offences in Canada, Victimization studies "include a large number of incidents not reported to the police, [as a result] victimization surveys produce estimates that are higher than rates derived from police statistics. This is the case even though sexual assaults recorded in victimization surveys exclude those committed against children under 15 years old, and the population residing in institutions or in Canada's three territories." CCJS, Juristat, "Sexual offences in Canada" (23:6), at 6.
-  Publications include: R. Kong et al., "Sexual Offences in Canada" Juristat (23:6) and M. Wallace, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2002" Juristat (23:5). Additional data on sexual offences are published by the Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) in their Youth Court Statistics and Adult Criminal Court Statistics reports.
-  CCJS Profile Series, "Women in Canada" (June 2001. Ministry of Industry: Ottawa)
-  J.V. Roberts with C. Benjamin, "Prevalence of Sexual Assault and Therapeutic Records: Research Findings" (internal report for the Department of Justice: Ottawa, 1998).
-  Police-reported crime statistics for 2001 reveal an increase of 1% in the rates of crime in Canada,
- after nine years of decline. "Over the previous nine years, the crime rate had decreased by an average of 3% per year, resulting in the 2000 rate being the lowest since 1978… However, the 2001 crime rate was 46% higher than the rate 30 years ago." CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2001", (22:6), p.4.
-  Within the category of violent offences, assaults and sexual assaults both increased by 1% in 2001.CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2001", (22:6), p.1.
-  "Violent crime includes homicide, attempted murder, assault, sexual assault, other assaults, other sexual offences, abduction and robbery." CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2002", (23:5), p.5.
-  Ibid at 3.
-  CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2001", (22:6), p.4.
-  "Twenty-five years ago property crimes made up 64% of all Criminal Code incidents, but that proportion has declined steadily since then. In contrast, the proportion of incidents that are classified as 'other' Criminal Code offences has been increasing since 1977 when it was only 28%. Violent offences have increased slightly from 8% to 13% of all Criminal Code incidents in the past twenty-five years." CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2002", (23:5), p.3.
-  "The decline in the rate of sexual offences since 1993 parallels the overall downward trend among other violent offences." The Daily, "Sexual Offences, 2002", July 25, 2003, p.2.
-  CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2002", (23:5), p.1.
-  Sexual assaults level 1, 2 and 3 accounted for 8% and other sexual offences made up 1% of the 303,294 violent incidents reported by the police in 2002. CCJS Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada", (23:6), p.2.
-  Ibid at 3.
-  The three levels of sexual assaults are applicable to youth and to adults accuseds. See CCJS, Juristat, "Sex Offenders", (19:3), p.3. for further information regarding the three levels of sexual offences.
-  "Amendments also eliminated immunity for those accused of sexually assaulting a spouse, removed reference to the gender of victims and perpetrators, and restricted the admissibility of evidence about the complainant's prior sexual history." CCJS, Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada", (23:6), p.2.
-  Ibid at3.
-  In 2001 there had been 24,000 reported incidents of sexual assault, and level one sexual offences had comprised 98% of these offences. CCJS, Juristat, "Crime Statistics in Canada, 2001", (22:6), p.6.
-  The Daily, "Sexual Offences, 2002", July 25, 2003, p.2.
-  This is "virtually unchanged since 1999 when the rate was 89" incidents for every 100,000 population in Canada.
-  CCJS, Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada (23:6), p.3.
-  Ibid.
-  The Daily, "Sexual Offences, 2002", July 25, 2003, p.1.
-  CCJS, Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada", (23:6), p.4.
-  According to The Daily report, "In the absence of extensive evaluation it is difficult to identify specific factors in the disparity in rates of reported sexual offences among provinces, territories and metropolitan areas. Possible factors include variations in public attitudes towards sexual assault that may influence reporting rates among victims, as well as differences in police practices with regard to diverting accused persons, especially youth, to programs such as community work and counselling instead of laying formal charges." The Daily, "Sexual Offences, 2002", July 25, 2003, p.3.
-  Demographic factors include "recent shifts in the age structures of the population and changing social values. Declines in rates of sexual offences coincided with a decrease in the proportion of the population aged 15-34. Since young adults have higher rates of criminal victimization and offending than other age groups, crime rates can be expected to decline as their share of the population declines. Changing social values related to sexual assault have also coincided with an aging population, and the combined effect may be more important than demographic shifts alone." CCJS, Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada (23:6), p.3.
-  Roberts and Gebotys, 1992; Roberts and Grossman, 1994; Department of Justice, 1985, Clark and Hepworth, 1994 cited in CCJS, Juristat, "Sexual Offences in Canada", (23:6), p.3.
-  Women have been more vulnerable to downturns in the economy and to government cutbacks which have occurred during the past decade. Poverty has been also identified as an indicator for higher vulnerability of women to sexual assault, to increased health problems, to substance abuse, to the need for physical and/or emotional health services and to having therapeutic records.