Edmonton is worst city in Canada to be a woman, study says

Edmonton is the worst city in Canada to be a woman, according to a study that examined economic opportunity, personal security and leadership.

Women lag behind in wages, domestic violence and political representation

Bev Esslinger, Edmonton's sole female councillor, said the city has work to do when it comes to making the city more liveable for women. (CBC)

Edmonton is the worst city in Canada to be a woman, according to a study that examined money, violence, political leadership, health and education.

Of the five areas measured by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Edmonton fared badly in three — wages, domestic violence and political representation.

In fact Edmonton had the largest gap in employment incomes.

"I was surprised," said  Kate McInturff, the researcher behind the study. "I thought that given there's a general level of economic well-being. that that tide would lift all boats."

But the study found that wasn't the case as women brought home on average $21,000 a year less than men.

"You also see a gap in terms of the number of women in poverty and the number of men in poverty, and I think that's probably related to women just bringing home smaller paycheques," McInturff said. 

"And also the fact that women tend to work in the service sector."

One of the biggest differences between Edmonton and the number-one city in the study — Québec City — is daycare

"More support for the kind of care work that women do," said McInturff. "That means affordable daycare ... it also means family-leave policies."

That rings true for Bev Esslinger, Edmonton's sole female councillor.

"We know we have some work to do," she said.   

Esslinger didn't get into politics until her children were grown because of the time commitment of up to 15 or 20 hours some days, she said.

City hall is dealing with the gender gap, though, introducing a mentoring program to help women run for office and a women`s advocacy group where 150 women applied for 15 spots, Esslinger said.

"We want to look at ourselves," said Esslinger. "What do we need as an organization to be a leader in women's issues? What are the issues? First we need to ask our own women."

It's wasn't all bad news for the city, though.

According to the study, women in Edmonton say they feel healthier and are more educated than men. 

Edmonton's provincial counterpart didn't fare much better in the study. Calgary came in 17th out of 20.

Click on the buttons on the map  below to view the ratings of the 20 cities included in the study: