Last month, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report of Canada’s 26 biggest cities, and it found that Toronto was one of the worst cities for women in the workforce.
The results confused many Toronto residents on the street as the city is known for its liberal attitudes and cosmopolitan ideals of equality and empowerment.
But the report puts Toronto as the third-worst city for women in Canada in terms of the gender employment gap. The gap also increased from 2013 to 2017 indicating that trend is getting worse.
Researchers cite the difficulties many immigrant women face in entering the labor force as a reason for Toronto’s declining female workforce participation numbers. According to the report, immigrants account for 47% of the greater Toronto area, and Toronto has also seen a recent influx of new immigrants. For a variety of factors, these women participate less frequently in the labor force, and more work needs to be done to provide these women with better opportunities.
Toronto has some of the highest childcare fees in Canada, and many women with partners in the labor force may not be able to get a job because of the high cost of sending their child to daycare. The lowering rate of female workforce participation comes despite the fact that Toronto is experiencing strong economic growth, and rerouting this prosperity into childcare services could be a strong policy proposal to increase woman in the workforce.
In other areas, Toronto ranked near the middle of other Canadian cities, indicating that workforce participation is one of the city’s biggest issues when it comes to female empowerment. Toronto ranked second in security and third for education, and women in Toronto are more highly educated than men.
However, the government has to step in to ensure that highly educated women and new immigrants to the country are able to participate in the workforce on a more level playing field to their male counterparts.
Lorena Castillo of ABOUTWOMEN argues that women are vital to the workforce especially in industries that make products for women. Her employer reviews products for women, and she said, “it is important to have a female perspective in all industries, but especially in spaces that are for women. If a woman wants to select a beauty product then she should hear what a woman thinks about it instead of having a man trying to describe how the product works.”
Other than government support for more women in the workforce, societal changes also need to occur before Canada reaches a more equitable working world. According to Plan International Canada, women become less confident about their prospects as they get older. 60% of girls aged 14-17 reported that they feel they have the same opportunity to lead as men, while only 38% of women aged 18-24 say the same.
Perhaps younger generations will do more to change the stigma against women in leadership roles, and with more women in high positions, there are now role models for young women to look up to. But Canadians need to work harder to make sure that women and young girls feel they are welcome in the workplace and can achieve the same success as men.