Police-reported sexual assaults in Canada are up - but most are unsolved

November 8, 2018

The average number of police-reported sexual assaults spiked in Canada after the emergence of the #MeToo movement last fall — but that hasn't led to an increase in criminal charges. 

After sexual assault allegations against movie executive Harvey Weinstein first surfaced in October 2017 and kicked off a global anti-sexual assault campaign, the average number of police-reported sexual assault cases went from 59 per day to 74 per day, according to a new Statistics Canada report published Thursday.

That accounts for a 25 per cent increase in the three months after the hashtag #MeToo first went viral — October to December 2017.

Statistics Canada defines police-reported sexual assaults as cases that are reported to police and then classified as founded criminal offences — those where a police investigation determined a crime took place.

The agency said the jump doesn't necessarily reflect a rise in the prevalence of sexual assaults in Canada, but likely is attributable to an increase in the number of victims willing report to police.

However, the increase in founded cases has also meant more cases going unsolved.

Just under half of founded cases were classified as not cleared before #MeToo. That figure increased to 56 per cent after #MeToo launched.

When a case is founded but not cleared, it can mean that there was evidence that a crime took place but no perpetrator was identified, said Statistics Canada in its report.

Read more: Police-reported sexual assaults in Canada are up - but most are unsolved