Victoria ranked third best city in Canada for gender equality

Victoria has been rated as the 3rd best place for gender equality in Canada, falling two spots since last years study.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives looked at 2017 stats of economic security, education, health, leadership, and personal security to conduct the study on gender equality.

Mayor Lisa Helps says she's not surprised, saying Victoria is very accepting of diversity, and has a lot of opportunities for women to be leaders.

"Victoria is a place where strong women can flourish.  If you look at the City Hall, look at the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development [Organization], there are women in a a lot of key leadership roles in the city.  And I think that's a real testimony to our citizens, who are electing and appointing women to these key leadership roles."

Helps points to her own success in a leadership position, as well as Catherine Holt's role as CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.  

Holt says that it's not a surprise that Victoria, a university and government town is good for women's employment.  She says those institutes set the tone, and the public sector follows.

"Having spent time working in the public sector myself, public sector employers have policies, and they pay attention, and they have watched the gender balance and the opportunities for women for decades now.  And they do a good job of ensuring that women have a fair opportunity in those sectors."

However, she does say that Victoria doesn't do as well in full employment for women as it does for men, because of child care challenges.  She points out Quebec's combination of Government, City, and Child Care for All allows for more women participation in the workforce.

While Victoria ranked very high in most categories, the rates dropped in personal security because of an increase in police reported sexual assaults.

Helps says while assaults on women are terrible, there is a silver lining.

"I spoke with folks at the Sexual Assault Centre the other night, shared this concern, they said actually it's a good thing that we see more women feeling comfortable, coming forward to report the sexual assaults.  Their numbers are definitely up, and potentially in light of the Me Too movement.  While sexual assault is never a good thing, I think what we're starting to see is more comfort in people reporting."

Holt adds that she doesn't want to minimize these incidents, but points out that the focus of the report was for downtown Victoria, whereas all the other city's were looked at regionally

The top two spots on the list for gender equality went to Kingston, Ontario, followed by St Johns, Newfoundland.

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