Hamilton ranks 3rd on list of best places in Canada to be a woman

Hamilton is climbing through the ranks in an annual study of the best place in Canada to be a woman.

The study says Victoria is the best and Windsor is the worst

Women attend the Leadership Summit for Women in 2012 at Hamilton City Hall. (Alyssa Lai/CBC)

Hamilton is climbing through the ranks in an annual study of the best place in Canada to be a woman.

Last year, Hamilton's census metropolitan area (CMA) ranked 13th of 25 Canadian cities in the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) study. This year, it ranked third.

The centre released its study Tuesday. To determine the ranking, it looked at differences between men's and women's access to economic and personal security, education, health and positions of leadership in Canada's biggest cities.

Victoria is the best city in Canada to be a woman, the study says, while Windsor is last.

As for Hamilton, the centre found Steeltown ranked near the bottom — 19 of 25 — for education, but number one for security. 

In Hamilton's CMA, which includes Grimsby and Burlington, 23 per cent of women hold a college degree. That's higher than the national average.

Women are also more likely than men, the study says, to have graduated from high school. Men, meanwhile, are more likely to have completed trades training and apprenticeships (11 per cent, compared with five per cent of women). 

The city was at the top of personal security, although the report says, if it follows the same pattern as the 2014 General Social Survey, there were 14,185 incidents of sexual assault and 25,145 incidents of intimate partner violence in Hamilton over a five-year period. The report also says 30 per cent of sexual assaults reported to police were deemed unfounded, compared to 19 per cent nationally.

Here are some other Hamilton specifics:

  • Hamilton ranked 10th for economic security, 11th for health and fourth for leadership.
  • The life expectancy is close to the Canadian average. Women live an average of 83 years, men 78 years. Men are slightly more likely than women to rate their health as good or very good. Women are slightly more likely to report high levels of stress in their lives (23 per cent, compared to 22 per cent among men).
  • Rates of cervical cancer are average and 68 per cent of women report having a Pap smear in the last three years.
  • 31 per cent of elected officials are women. Women hold 40 per cent of leadership positions.
  • 63 per cent of men and 57 per cent of women have jobs. The gap between employment is slightly smaller than average and has narrowed a bit over the past five years. 
  • Women and men both earn slightly more than the national average, with women bringing home 73 per cent of what men earn. The wage gap has been remained about the same over past five years.
  • Poverty rates are slightly below average, with 13 per cent of women and 11 per cent of men below the low-income line.

The study ranked Victoria as the best place in Canada to be a woman, despite the wage gape worsening over the last five years. Women earning 73 per cent of what men do in Victoria, which is on par with the rest of the country.

In Windsor, Ont., which ranked worst in the study, the wage gap is actually smaller than average, with women making about 75 per cent of what men earn.

The CCPA also says that sexual assault is the only violent crime that's not on the decline in Canada and every city still struggles with high rates of sexual and domestic violence.

"Statistics will never be a substitute for the full experience of lives lived. But as signposts they mark the spot where more attention is needed from our political leaders and policy-makers," says study author Kate McInturff, a senior researcher at CCPA. "We hope they follow through."

Here is the CCPA's ranking of the cities it studied:

  1. Victoria.
  2. Gatineau.
  3. Hamilton.
  4. Kingston.
  5. Vancouver.
  6. Quebec City.
  7. St. John's.
  8. Sherbrooke.
  9. Halifax.
  10. Toronto.
  11. Ottawa.
  12. London.
  13. Kelowna.
  14. Abbotsford-Mission.
  15. Montreal.
  16. St. Catharines-Niagara.
  17. Winnipeg.
  18. Edmonton.
  19. Saskatoon.
  20. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo.
  21. Regina.
  22. Calgary.
  23. Barrie.
  24. Oshawa.
  25. Windsor.

With files from The Canadian Press