Canada’s best and worst cities to be a woman: report

WATCH: Why is the city of Victoria the best city in Canada for women, according to a new survey? Reporter Kylie Stanton tells us what gives the city its edge.

TORONTO — Victoria and Quebec are two of the best places to be a woman in Canada, according to a new report being released Wednesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Out of 25 cities across the country, the one that ranks lowest is Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, followed by Edmonton and Calgary. The two Alberta cities landed at the bottom last year as well.

READ MORE: Why Calgary ranks as the third worst city in Canada for women

The rankings are based on the following five areas: economic security, leadership, health, education and personal security. In all but the latter, the index follows a similar methodology to the annual global gender gap report put out by the World Economic Forum.

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Despite having the highest per capita income in Canada, the gap that exists in Alberta when it comes to men and women’s employment levels and incomes is among the largest of the cities measured.

“We tend to think of Alberta as the ‘have’ province,” said researcher Kate McInturff. “But what I found with that region in particular is they’ve seen a lot of growth in construction, and obviously in mining, oil and gas. But those industries are as much as 83-85 per cent male employees.

“And what you haven’t seen in that region is an equal level of growth in health, education and social services.”

WATCH: Earlier this year, a report found women in Alberta earn about 40% less than men 

The province’s new NDP premier, Rachel Notley, seems keen to change that.

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READ MORE: Reversing cuts — Alberta adds $682M in 2015 for health care and education

The lowest ranked spot on the list, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, is known for being Canada’s hub for IT, an industry dominated by men. The city has one of the largest wage gaps, with women making 66 per cent of what men make overall. Women’s poverty rates there are also higher than average, as is the rate of domestic violence reported to police.

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In comparison, Victoria — the number one city on the list —  has one of the smallest wage gaps in the cities measured. Part of the reason, according to McInturff, is its large number of public sector employees.

“The public sector has a high level of transparency when it comes to rates of pay and promotion,” her report reads. It also credits the fact that the sector is highly unionized.

“The higher the proportion of the workplace that is unionized, the lower the gender gap,” explained Amy Kaler, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta.

Kaler is not at all surprised by the findings in the report, saying it confirms what a lot of other research and statistical evidence suggests. Canada is slipping globally when it comes to gender parity, she added. One recent study found women in this country make, on average, $8,000 less than men for comparable jobs. That’s almost twice the global average.

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READ MORE: Gender wage gap for B.C. women in workforce prompts calls for change

Kaler points to Quebec, which has three cities in the top 10 and offers generous parental leave plus highly subsidized childcare, as a model of what other parts of Canada should strive for.

“If I had to name one policy change, one political change that could go some way towards closing the gap between men and women in terms of economic power, I would say accessible, high-quality child care.”

“That costs money. It doesn’t just kind of fall from the heavens. Quebec taxes people to pay for that,” Kaler said, adding she would like to see a national child care policy.

“I think the social benefits to living in a society in which economic power is not quite so concentrated in one gender are worth a little bit of public investment to reduce that gap between men and women.”

According to McInturff, Quebec’s child care subsidies have helped move over 100,000 single mothers out of poverty and into jobs over the last 15 years.

In response to the report, public affairs officer Léonie Roux issued the following statement to Global News:

“Since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested over $162 million through Status of Women Canada in support of more than 780 community-based projects across Canada. This includes over $68 million for projects that promote women’s economic security and prosperity. Of this amount, over $18 million has been invested in projects that support women in skilled trades and technical professions and $71 million has gone to projects that prevent violence against women and girls.”

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You can find the full report here and more highlights from it below:


Credit: Janet Cordahi, Global News

With a file from Amy Judd, Global News


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