Fast Facts on Women

More Canadian women than ever before are graduating from university, entering new professions and running for public office. They have among the highest life expectancies in the world. Those who work are slightly more likely to have a university degree than male counterparts. However, despite progress achieved, women in Canada still experience significant barriers in fully accessing the economic, social and political resources, and as a result, they are more likely to live in poverty than men. Also, progress is not shared equally between different groups of women – barriers are even greater for women who are Aboriginal, racialized, women with disabilities, transgender people and women living in remote and Northern communities.

Women and Work

  • Some 8.5 million Canadian women have joined the workforce in the last 20 years, and women now make 47% of all Canadian workers. 73% of all employed women work full-time.
  • Despite these contributions to the economy and Canadian well-being, women still get paid less than men for the same work, regardless of education, occupation, age or hours. Alberta has the largest pay gap in Canada. Women working full-time, full-year earn on average only 63% of what their male counterparts do, or $31,100 less than men on average (and as much as $35,000 less in Calgary). Overall, the average gender income gap for all earners in Alberta is 41%, while the average for Canada as a whole is 33%.
  • The wage gap can partly be attributed to occupational segregation (i.e. women and men concentrating in different occupations). Occupations where women dominate tend to be paid less well than those where men do. In Alberta’s labour market, occupational segregation means that the majority (over 2/3) of women engaged in one of three types of work: sales and services (30%), business and administration (27%), and health (12%).
  • Aboriginal, racialized, immigrant women and women with disabilities experience even higher wage gaps, both compared to women without those characteristics, and to men from the same group.
  • Women, as well as racialized and Aboriginal workers, fare better on average when working in the public vs. the private sector, with wage gaps around a half of what they are in the private sector.
  • Women make up 61.7% of low-wage workers in Alberta. In 2015, 182,700 women earned less than $15/hour in the province.
  • A living wage in Calgary is $18.15/hour without benefits and $17.00/hour with. The current minimum wage is $12.20/hour.
  • In Canada, women accounted for just over a third (35.1%) of all managers, and only 31.8% of senior managers (in 2015). In the public sector, though, women made over a half of all legislators and senior government managers.
  • Wage and employment gaps can also be partly attributed to the fact that women are still predominantly responsible for unpaid work, especially unpaid care work. Alberta women are burdened with working a “double day,” averaging 35 hours of unpaid work weekly, compared to 17 hours for Alberta men.

Women and Poverty

As women are predominantly responsible for unpaid care work, have lower levels of employment and lower earnings, they are consistently more likely to live in poverty. Aboriginal women, visible minority women, women with disabilities and single mothers are all more likely to have a lower income than men within the same categories.

  • 30% of Aboriginal women and 21% of racialized women live below the poverty line, as well as 19% of immigrant women
  • Single mothers are much more likely to live in poverty: 80% of all lone-parent families are headed by women, and lone mothers are three times more likely to live in poverty than lone fathers. Their poverty rate is a staggering 37% across Canada.
  • In Alberta, in order to be lifted above the poverty line, the median after-tax income for low-income lone-parent families would need to increase by $12,949 for one child families and $13,531 for families with two children.
  • 80% of incarcerated women in Canada are in prison for poverty related reasons, 39% of which are for failure to pay a fine. In a survey of provincially incarcerated women, 74% reported that they did not have enough money to meet their basic needs at the time of their arrest. Women in prison are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with mental health issues when admitted.
  • 14% of all women above 65 live below the poverty line, compared to 9% of men, and as many 63% of single, low-income seniors are women. Single women aged 45-64 are also at a high risk of poverty: 30% of them live in low income.

Women and Leadership

  • With just over one quarter of the House of Commons made up of women, Canada ranks 62nd out of 189 countries in the number of women elected to national parliament.
  • The target of 30% of women in decision making is a widely accepted benchmark to ensure that women’s interests are taken into consideration, with many jurisdictions aiming for gender parity (40-60% of women’s representation).
  • For the first time, Canada had gender parity in the cabinet, with 15 women and 15 men ministers after the 2015 federal election. Earlier that year, Alberta also announced its first gender equal cabinet, headed by a woman.
  • In Calgary, there are two councillors who are women (as of early 2017), making up 14% of councillors. Calgary was one of the last major cities in Canada to make the title change from ‘alderman’ to ‘councillor,’ and is trailing behind other major cities in Canada when it comes to women’s representation on City Council.

Women and Violence

  • Women often remain in abusive relationships to avoid poverty and homelessness. Women who leave a partner to raise children on their own are five times more likely to live in poverty than if they stay with their partner.
  • On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
  • In 2015, Statistics Canada reported that Alberta had the third-highest rate of police-reported intimate partner violence in the country.
  • In Alberta alone, shelters supported 5418 women and 5149 children in 2015/16. In that same time, 8,076 women and 8,283 children were turned away from shelters due to lack of capacity.
  • Aboriginal women are 5 times more likely to experience spousal violence than non-Aboriginal women.
  • In 2015, Aboriginal women were killed at six times the rate of non-aboriginal women.
  • 67% of Canadians say that they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted. Of the provinces, Alberta was the highest, with 74 per cent of Albertans reporting that they have known a woman who was abused.
  • 34% of men surveyed in Alberta (in 2016) believe that women put themselves at risk for rape if they are wearing provocative clothing, 13% believe that women often say ‘no’ when they mean ‘yes’ to sex, 4% believe it is okay to physically assault a woman who makes him angry and 3% think it is acceptable to hurt a woman who withholds sex.

Women and Childcare

  • Women are disproportionately responsible for child care across Canada, spending more time and energy on childcare than men, even when employed. 70% of mothers of children under 6 work, but are often forced to work part-time, or make other choices that may hurt their chances of advancement but allow them to juggle work and family life. Almost a half all Albertan women working part-time say they are forced to do so because they can’t find child care.
  • The average cost of full time toddler child care in Calgary is $1050/month.
  • In 2012, compared with all other provinces and territories, Alberta spent the third smallest amount on regulated childcare spaces, despite its comparatively high GDP within Canada.
  • In 2016, Public interest Alberta surveyed over 300 child care providers across the province.
    • 40% of child care operators surveyed do not offer care to infants, while 19% are unable to support children who have a diagnosed disability.
    • Half had waiting lists, with an average of 59 children waiting to access a space.
    • Low-income families in nearly half (44%) of the facilities surveyed are paying over $300 per month above subsidy for child care. In 2013, 144,850 Albertan children lived in poverty, or just under one in six children.
  • Across Canada, women make up 96.5% of Early Childhood Educators and Assistants. The average hourly wage for all childhood development assistants in Alberta is $15.68 in an accredited program. Women working in dayhomes or unregistered programs are likely making less.

Download our Fast Facts on Women!