July 15, 2015 6:54 pm

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

Calgary City Hall

Global News

CALGARY – The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released a report today naming Calgary as the third worst city in Canada for women.

The study looked at Canada’s 25 largest cities and ranked them in five areas: economic security, leadership, health, personal security and education.

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Calgary ranked fifth worst in terms of leadership, with only 29 per cent of women in senior management positions at the City of Calgary and only two women on city council.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising that we rank lower than other municipalities in Canada and we’ve got a long way to go,” said Ward Seven Councillor Druh Farrell.

Councillor Farrell said fewer women are putting their names forward for municipal politics, but that wasn’t always the case. In 1917, Calgarians elected Annie Gale as alderman, the first woman to hold an elected position in the British Commonwealth.

But with only two women on city council, Farrell said it is difficult for issues facing women to be heard.

“There’s no question that when you have a certain number of women on a board, or representing leadership on city council, for example, that certain issues are discussed naturally,” said Farrell.

“If you have 30 per cent women around the table in leadership (positions), then issues that are normally thought of as women’s issues – but are usually health and well-being issues – just naturally get discussed.”

The councillor said these issues include health, safety and education –  three areas in which Calgary scored the lowest – but are considered less important compared to hard issues like infrastructure.

Minister of Labour and Status of Women Dr. Kellie Leitch responded to the report by saying the federal government has a “new focus” on women entering into skilled professional trades.

“They’re great paying jobs,” she said at an event in Calgary. “We have a new action plan for women entrepreneurs to make sure they could be prosperous and economically independent. So our federal government is very focused on making sure women have economic security, but also prosperity and that’s how we’re going to move those numbers here in Calgary, in Edmonton, and quite frankly, across the country.”

MP for Calgary Centre Joan Crockatt said some of the wage gap referred to in the report is “because women are choosing professions that aren’t as high-paying.”

“Some of that is completely understandable and by choice,” said Crockatt. “But if women want higher-paying jobs, those jobs are out there waiting for them, especially in skilled trades and in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering, math).”

“The heavy equipment truck drivers up in Fort McMurray, a large majority of those are now women. They’re driving those monster trucks and they’re fantastic drivers, their accident records are very low and guess what? They’re earning huge salaries. So we just need young girls to start thinking about if they’re in university, those STEM fields are very high paying compared to some of the other humanities fields, for example.”

Edmonton was also named one of the worst offenders by the CCPA, ranking 24th,  one spot below Calgary, while Victoria, B.C., Gatineau and Quebec City, Q.C. hold the honours of the best cities for women in Canada.

READ MORE: Third worst city in Canada to be a woman is Calgary, says report

Calgary infographic

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