What is the best and worst city in Canada to be a woman?
Downtown Victoria is shown in this photo taken in 2008. (Deddeda Stemler / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Graham Slaughter, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, October 13, 2016 12:01AM EDT
Once again, Victoria has been named the best city in Canada to be a woman, while the country’s three biggest cities -- Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver -- earned middling grades from an annual report on gender equality in 25 urban centres.
The report, authored by Kate McInturff, a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, offers a glimpse into the gaps between men and women from a variety of factors, including economic security, personal security, education, health and how many women hold leadership pos¬itions in business and politics.
The research took into account 25 cities across Canada that represent 67 per cent of the country’s population.
Here’s how they stacked up:
Victoria earned the top spot for having the smallest employment gap between men and women. However, the report notes that one of the reasons for this is that men in Victoria have lower employment rates than average.
B.C.’s capital also earned high grades for having a female mayor and for being one of the few Canadian cities with more women than men on its council.
2. Kingston, Ont.
Canada’s original capital city, also home to Queen’s University, has better educational prospects for women, with a higher rate of women completing high school, college or university than men. Women in Kingston also held down more leadership positions than any other city surveyed.
Kingston women also live slightly longer on average than men, at 83 years versus 78.
3. London, Ont.
The employment gap between men and women in London is slim, which researchers suggest is linked to lower-than-average employment rates for men in London. The city also has a smaller wage gap than other Canadian cities, with women taking home 77 per cent of men’s earnings, on average.
However, London also has some of the highest rates of women living in poverty, with 20 per cent living below the Low Income Measure.
4. Quebec City
Quebec City dropped one spot from last year’s report, which ranked it as the third-best city for women. Rates of employment for both men and women are higher than the national average, with 63 per cent of women and 67 per cent of men working.
Quebec City also has one of the lowest wage gaps between men and women, with women earning 79 per cent of what men make on average.
Gatineau topped the rankings for education, with women slightly more likely than men to have a high school or post-secondary degree. Women in Gatineau also had a higher-than-average likelihood to have completed an apprenticeship or training in trades, at 10 per cent. (Men in Gatineau sat around 15 per cent.)
Women make up about one-third of elected officials in Gatineau at the municipal level.
Montreal jumped three spots from last year to this year, coming in sixth – the highest ranking of Canada’s three biggest cities. This lift is connected to the city’s narrowing gap in pay and the fact that Montreal has a higher-than-average rate of women in elected positions of government.
7. Sherbrooke, Que.
Sherbrooke ranked second for education, with women more likely than men to have a high school or post-secondary degree. The city also has more women in trades, with 13 per cent (versus 21 per cent of men) having completed training or an apprenticeship.
However, Sherbrooke lags behind when it comes to leadership, with women only making up 26 per cent of elected officials in Sherbrooke and surrounding municipalities.
8. St. John’s, N.L.
St. John’s leapt seven spots this year, from 15 in 2015 to eighth spot in 2016. The city ranked third for both education and health, with nearly one-in-four women in St. John’s with a college or CEGEP degree. In terms of health, women’s life expectancies (age 81) are higher than for men (age 71).
Vancouver fell two spots, from seventh place in 2015 to ninth this year. Five of the 11 elected positions in the City of Vancouver are held by women, and life expectancy for women in Vancouver is the highest of the 25 cities surveyed, at 86 years old. (Life expectancy for men sits at 81).
Halifax dropped five positions from 2015 to 2016. The wage gap in Halifax is a sizeable one, with women earning 71 per cent of what men make. The Maritimes city also has higher rates of poverty than average, with more women (15 per cent) than men (12 per cent) living below the Low Income Measure.
Canada’s most populous city crept up one spot from last year’s rankings. Toronto has one of the most educated populations in Canada (second only to Ottawa) with 28 per cent of men and women holding university degrees. In municipal politics, women make up 28 per cent of elected officials on city council.
The numbers are slightly better for women in business, with women making up 36 per cent of senior managers in Toronto.
One of the most significant year-to-year changes was measured in Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, which came dead last in the 2015 rankings. One of the factors driving the city higher comes from leadership: women in business make up 39 per cent of senior managers in the area.
In politics, women make up less than a third of seats on council in Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo.
13. Hamilton, Ont.
Hamilton has slightly lower-than-average employment rates than national figures, with women’s employment rates falling behind those for men. When it comes to education, women have a higher-than-average rate of college completion, at 23 per cent.
Ottawa dropped from 11th in 2015 to 14th this year. Ottawa is the most educated city of those surveyed, with a third of women (and men) holding university degrees. However, when it comes to politics, Ottawa is near the bottom of the pack with women only holding 21 per cent of elected positions in Ottawa and surrounding regions.
15. Abbotsford-Mission, B.C.
The biggest earnings gap between men and women of the 25 cities measured is in Abbotsford-Mission, where women earn 57 per cent of what men make.
16. Barrie, Ont.
Barrie also has one of the biggest wage gaps between men and women, with women making 62 cents on the dollar to men. Women are more likely than men to hold a high school or post-secondary degree, although local figures show that the rate of educational achievement (15 per cent for women, 12 per cent for men) is well below the national average.
Kelowna has one of the lowest rates of full-time employment for women, with just 38 per cent of Kelowna women holding full-time positions. The poverty gap is also higher than average for women (14.1 per cent) than men (11.7 per cent), in terms of those living below he Low Income Measure.
Of all 25 cities studied, Regina had the highest rates of unemployment for women. However, the wage gap between men and women is smaller than average, with women making 73 cents on the dollar to men.
19. St. Catharines-Niagara
Levels of full-time employment are lowest in St. Catharines-Niagara, with just 36 per cent of women holding down full-time jobs. In terms of the wage gap, women earn about 75 per cent of what men make.
In terms of politics, women hold just two of the 13 seats on St. Catharines council. The region fares slightly better when outlying municipalities are considered, with women holding 20 per cent of elected positions.
Winnipeg dropped two spots from 2015 to 2016, coming in at 20th. Poverty rates are higher than average for both men and women in Winnipeg, with 15 per cent of women living below the Low Income Measure. Employment rates are near the national average in Winnipeg, and women earn about 75 per cent of what men make.
The employment gap is larger than average in Saskatoon, with 64 per cent of women holding jobs versus 74 per cent of men. The wage gap is also bigger than national figures, with women making 63 cents on the male dollar.
Edmonton squeaked up two spots from its 24th ranking in 2015. Edmonton ranked last for economic security of all cities surveyed. The employment gap between men and women is among the largest of the 25 cities surveyed, with 65 per cent of women holding jobs versus 75 per cent of men. The pay gap is also larger than average, with women earning 59 cents to every dollar a man makes.
Similar to Edmonton, Calgary saw one of the largest gaps in employment levels between men (75 per cent) and women (66 per cent). However, when it comes to poverty, Calgary has one of the lowest rates of the 25 cities studied, with more men (8 per cent) than women (6 per cent) living below the Low Income Measure.
Ranked 10th in 2015, Oshawa fell to the 24th spot in this year’s rankings. Researchers say the city has the lowest rate of women in senior management roles, at 29 per cent. In terms of political leadership, women account for just 23 per cent of elected roles in Oshawa and surrounding municipalities.
Researchers found that women in Windsor have the lowest employment rates of any city studied -- just over half of women (53 per cent) hold down jobs. Windsor also recorded the highest poverty rates, with almost a quarter of all women (24 per cent) living below the Low Income Measure. This is a sizeable gap from the rate of men living in poverty, at 15 per cent. The number of women in Windsor with university degrees is also lower than the national average.