A new study ranks Victoria as the best city to be a woman in Canada, while Windsor, Ont., rated last of the country’s 25 largest metropolitan areas.
The study by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives senior researcher Kate McInturff looks at the gaps in men and women’s access to economic security, personal security, education, health, and positions of leadership in Canada’s biggest cities.
McInturff’s report says the biggest factor in Victoria’s standing is the level of representation of women in politics — Victoria has a female mayor and is the only city in the study to have more women than men on its council. Victoria also topped the rankings in 2015.
The study says Windsor placed last due to its large gap in women’s representation in leadership roles, its larger than average employment gap, and the fact that Windsor has the highest gap in the percentage of women living in poverty, compared to men.
Canada’s largest cities fall in the middle of the rankings, with Vancouver at ninth and Toronto in 11th, due significant gaps in employment levels, while to Montreal placed sixth.
The Ontario cities of Kingston and London, and Quebec City and Gatineau, Que., rounded out the top five, while Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Oshawa, Ont., joined Windsor on the bottom of the rankings.
The report said Ontario’s Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo-area moved from the bottom of the list to the middle of the pack, due in large part to gains women made in winning local elections and increasing their share of senior management jobs.
The study also found that women are more likely to be victims of violent crime than men.
“For the first time on record, women are now more likely to be the victims of violent crime than are men — a result of persistently high rates of sexual assault,” McInturff said.
She said the statistics in the study are “the beginning of the conversation, not the end,” noting that “there is much that cities have to learn from one another.”
The study also indicates some gaps are closing.
Women in Canada now make up 48 per cent of the labour force, they are as likely to have some form of post-secondary education as are men, it found.
The report also said the OECD projects that narrowing the gap between men’s and women’s employment in Canada could contribute an additional $160 billion or eight per cent in GDP by 2030.
“We live together, we work together and when we close these gaps, we all share in the benefit of more secure and more stable lives and communities,” McInturff said.