News / Toronto

'A ways to go': Why Toronto is falling behind on gender equity

Toronto is in the mediocre middle on a list of best and worst places to be a woman in Canada.

The January 2017 Women's March in Toronto. When it comes to the best cities for women, Toronto is not at the front of the pack, says a new report.

Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

The January 2017 Women's March in Toronto. When it comes to the best cities for women, Toronto is not at the front of the pack, says a new report.

Toronto is a world-class city, but when it comes to gender equality the 6ix is stuck in the slow lane, beaten by smaller places like Victoria, B.C., and Hamilton.

That's according to a new report, "The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada 2017," by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think tank. It evaluates 25 Canadian cities on economic security, education, health, leadership and security.

While Toronto did better on security, the wage gap keeps the city down, said report author Kate McInturff. The city has stayed in roughly the same spot for the last two years: it's now No. 10 of the 25 ranked in 2017.

"Toronto faces a fairly typical problem, which is a gap in women's access to jobs and also a gap in pay when they do have jobs," said McInturff.

She calls for more investment in sectors such as health, social services and education — which have more women — and wants all orders of government to listen to and support women's groups working on the ground.

McInturff said there's also a big role for employers to play in studying and fixing gender pay gaps, like McMaster University did in 2015.

"We've heard a lot about women leaning in, but it's actually time, I think, for employers to lean in as well," she said. "It's not rocket science; it's really something that's totally fixable."

Toronto was in the middle of the pack when it comes to leadership, with women in 28 per cent of council positions in the region. This year's top city was Victoria, B.C. McInturff said the fact that it's one of the only cities with more women than men on city council — and a female mayor — drove up its score.

Hema Vyas, part of a group called Women Win Toronto that's trying to get more women and especially more women of colour elected to city council, agreed Toronto has "a ways to go."

She added that councillors need to do a better job reaching out to the city's diverse communities and mentoring women.

Overall, McInturff said, progress has stalled on closing gender gaps, in both Toronto and across the country.

"What I'm seeing is just not a lot of movement forward," she said. "We need to do more."

Andres Plana / Metro

Five best places to be a woman in Canada, according to the report:

1. Victoria, B.C

2. Gatineau, Que.

3. Hamilton, Ont.

4. Kingston, Ont.

5. Vancouver, B.C.

And worst:

21. Regina, Sask.

22. Calgary, Alta.

23. Barrie, Ont.

24. Oshawa, Ont.

25. Windsor, Ont.
 

More on Metronews.ca