Waterloo region more welcoming to women than a year ago, report says

Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have moved from the bottom of a list of the best and worst cities to be a woman in Canada to the middle of the pack. The authors of the report said it was largely to female politicians being elected and more women entering senior management positions.

The Tri-Cities moved up the list from last place to middle of the pack

More women being elected to office - such as Government Leader and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Bardish Chagger (centre) and Kitchener Centre MPP Daiene Vernile - has moved Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge up in the annual rankings of best cities to be a woman. In 2015, Waterloo region was last on the list. This year, it was ranked 12. (Carmen Ponciano/CBC News)

Waterloo region is becoming a more welcoming place for women, a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests.

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo ranked 12 out of 25 cities in the report released Thursday.

This 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," a release about the report said.

In the 2015 report, Waterloo region landed last largely because of a number of male-dominated industries operating here.

The results are based on five areas: Economic security, education, health, leadership and security.

Victoria, B.C., came out on top for the second year in a row while Windsor, Ont., was last on the list.

The paper was authored by Kate McInturff, a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCAP) and the director of the centre's initiative on general equality and public policy.

"It is through combining our knowledge and working together that we will close the gaps in men's and women's access to security and opportunity; another reminder that we are in this together," McInturff wrote. "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."

According to McInturff's report, here's how Waterloo region fared:

Economic security

Employment levels are higher than average in Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, "but so is the gap in women's and men's representation in the workforce," the report said, noting 72 per cent of men hold jobs compared to 64 per cent of women.

"The city continues to have one of the larger wage gaps of the 25 cities measured: Women make 66 per cent of what men make overall," the report said.


Women and men had similar levels of education in the region, with less than a one per cent difference in the number of men and women who have high school and university degrees. More women graduated college, 21 per cent compared to 17 per cent of men, but men are more than twice as likely to complete training or an apprenticeship in trades, 10 per cent of men compared to 4 per cent of women.


Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo jumped from 16th in 2015 to first in this category ranking.

"The city outperforms the national average outside of politics, with women making up 39 per cent of senior managers in the region," the report said. As well, women make up just under a third of city councillors in the three cities, with Waterloo "doing slightly better" than Cambridge and Kitchener.

  • Waterloo: Three of seven councillors are women.
  • Kitchener: Three of 10 councillors are women.
  • Cambridge: Three of eight councillors are women.


Life expectancy in the region in general is just above the Canadian average. Women live slightly longer lives and tend to rate their health as very good or excellent more than men, 65 per cent compared to 56 per cent.

Personal security

The report doesn't use statistics from the region and instead applies Canadian data taken from the General Social Survey in 2014 to the population. That survey found 2.2 per cent of adults in Canada had experienced sexual assault in the past five years and 3.9 per cent had experienced violence from an intimate partner.

The report says that "equates to 9,259 incidents of sexual assault and 16,413 incidents of intimate partner violence" in the region over the past five years.

A 2014 report by police looking at crime trends in the region shows different numbers.

The report from police said there were 511 cases of "sexual violations" investigated by police, up from 429 in 2013 and 481 in 2012. Those cases included sexual assault, sexual interference, voyeurism, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation and luring a child via a computer.

The 2015 CCPA best and worst cities to be a woman report notes the rate of intimate partner violence reported to police is higher than the national average, with 293 cases of sexual and domestic violence perpetrated against women in 2013.

"However, because 90 per cent and 70 per cent of all incidents of sexual and domestic violence respectively go unreported, these numbers do not reflect actual levels of violence," the 2015 CCPA report said.


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