British Columbia

Victoria, Vancouver rank high for gender equality, but study says all Canadian cities need to improve

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released its fifth annual study looking at which cities are the best and worst for women, scoring metro areas on access to economic security, personal security, education, health and leadership positions.

Study rated access to economic security, personal security, education, health and leadership positions

A report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found Kingston, Ont., was the best city in Canada to be a woman — but found there was not a big difference between the cities ranked first and last. (Atomazul/Shutterstock)

Canadian cities must do more to address gender inequality, researchers say in a new report looking at the gender gap in the country's 26 largest metro areas.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released its fifth annual study looking at which cities are the best and worst for women.

It scored metro areas on access to economic security, personal security, education, health and leadership positions. Kingston, Ont., was ranked No. 1 while Barrie, Ont., was ranked last.

Among B.C. cities, Victoria (third) and Vancouver (fifth) ranked best.

However, the centre noted there was not a big difference between the first and last place finishers — which they say is a signal that all need to make improvements.

"Progress has been uneven across different areas of gender equality," lead researcher Katherine Scott said in a statement.

"Years of effort to remove entrenched economic, cultural and social barriers to women's progress are not resulting in the gains we expected to see by now."

The centre said the largest gap is in the domain of leadership, which reflects opportunities for women in politics and management. The narrowest gap is in the area of health.

'We all have more work to do'

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was pleased to see the city receive strong marks in the study.

However, she pointed out that even in places with strong economies, like Victoria, wealth disparities exist between men and women.

"Construction jobs are a big, big employment source right now … and there are still far fewer women in the trades," Helps said.

"There are a lot of women working in tech, but in terms of high-paying jobs … a lot of that is still dominated by men. So I think we do have some room to do better."

The study also pointed out that all of Canada's cities grapple with persistently high rates of sexual and domestic violence. Helps agreed Victoria is not immune to that.

"Violence against women is something we all need to take seriously," she added. "We all have more work to do."

The top 10 cities were ranked as follows:

  1. Kingston, Ont.
  2. St. John's
  3. Victoria
  4. Hamilton, Ont.
  5. Vancouver
  6. Ottawa
  7. Sherbrooke, Que.
  8. Toronto
  9. Greater Sudbury, Ont.
  10. Gatineau, Que.

With files from Francesca Bianco

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