The best and worst cities in Canada to be a woman in 2019

Study results point to uneven progress, with many women still waiting for meaningful change
March 5, 2019

OTTAWA—A new study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reveals the best and worst cities to be a woman in Canada in 2019. Overall, this year’s report shows that while measured progress has been made, women are still waiting for meaningful change in communities across the country.

The report, by CCPA Senior Researcher Katherine Scott, provides an updated snapshot of the gaps between men and women when it comes to economic and personal security, education, health, and positions of leadership in Canada's largest 26 metropolitan areas. It captures inequalities that can be attributed, at least in part, to discrimination based on gender.

“Progress has been uneven across different areas of gender equality,” says Scott. “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 study takes special note of the individuals and organizations working hard to close gaps in their communities, but also finds that—despite a government celebrated internationally for ambitious gender-based policy and budget analyses—gender gaps remain pervasive across Canada. This is the fifth edition of the report, an initiative previously led by the late Kate McInturff. The CCPA is dedicated to continuing this important work.

Among the study’s findings:

There is no clear winner on this list. The difference between first place Kingston and last place Barrie in this year’s rankings is only 7.1 percentage points, suggesting there is not a very large difference between the best place to be a woman in Canada and the worst;

The largest gender gap is in leadership and political empowerment, a key factor pulling down the scores of Halifax, London and Montreal, and pulling up the scores of Sherbrooke, Victoria and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge;

The smallest gender gap is in the health domain, which speaks in part to the value of Canada’s public health care system;

Of Canada’s largest cities, Vancouver (5) scored highest overall, followed by Toronto (8). Montreal scored 24th due to low rankings in leadership, health and educational attainment;

By and large, cities with strong public sectors like Gatineau, Quebec City and Victoria score well on economic indicators for women;

Every city continues to struggle with persistently high rates of sexual and domestic violence.

“No single measure or index can hope to capture the complexity of women’s lives or reflect the uniqueness of each community,” adds Scott. “This report highlights the gender-based disparities that systemically undermine women’s quality of life, and points the way toward progress and best practices needed to finally close Canada’s long-standing gender gaps. The status quo won’t get us there.”


The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2019: The Gender Gap in Canada’s 26 Biggest Cities is available for download on the CCPA website, including full city-by-city rankings and profiles. For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact: CCPA Media and Public Relations Officer Alyssa O’Dell, (613) 563-1341 x 307, [email protected] or cell (343) 998-7575