New study reveals best and worst cities to be a woman in Canada

April 23, 2014

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. According to the study, Québec City is the best city to be a woman and Edmonton is the worst.

The study, by Kate McInturff, a Senior Researcher at the CCPA, ranks Canada’s 20 largest metropolitan areas based on a comparison of how men and women are faring in five areas: economic security, leadership, health, personal security, and education.

“Canada has made great progress in ensuring that men and women have equal access to health care and education, but that hasn’t translated into personal safety at home or promotion at work,” says McInturff.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Canada’s big three cities fall in the middle as a group, with Montreal in 4th place, Toronto in 6th place, and Vancouver in 13th place.
  • Cities from Québec do better than cities in the rest of Canada, with Québec City, Montreal, and Sherbrooke falling in the top 10.
  • Alberta fares the worst, with Calgary and Edmonton coming in 17th and 20th place, respectively.
  • Women can expect to earn the most in Ottawa-Gatineau.
  • Women in Calgary experience the lowest levels of poverty.
  • Women in Vancouver have the highest life expectancy.
  • Women in Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo experience the highest stress levels.

“A closer look at the local picture demonstrates that the gaps can be closed—proactive pay equity measures are narrowing the gap in what men and women earn in capital cities like Ottawa and Victoria, and affordable childcare and family leave policies are increasing access to employment for women in cities in Québec,” McInturff says.

The study includes a small sample of projects underway in Canadian cities to help close the gender gap but warns these efforts are increasingly becoming invisible at the national and provincial levels as the organizations that used to provide a venue for communities to share their experiences and learn from one another are disappearing.

“Canadian communities have much to learn from one another. Federal and provincial governments also have much to learn from the local picture—about which policies are working and what strategies can be scaled up so that every community in Canada can lay equal claim to being the best place in Canada to be a woman,” McInturff concludes.


The Best and Worst Place to be a Woman in Canada: An Index of Gender Equality in Canada’s Twenty Largest Metropolitan Areas is available on the CCPA website:

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.