MONTREAL ― A new study that attempts to uncover how widely cities spread their wealth has ranked Ottawa among the best in the world, but other Canadian cities don’t fare quite as well.
Canada’s capital city took eighth place in a ranking of 113 cities around the world for “inclusive prosperity” ― a new measure that acts as a sort of shorthand for understanding economic and social inequality.
It’s the highest ranking of any North American city.
The Prosperity and Inclusion Index, funded by institutions and local governments in Spain’s Basque Country, ranks cities on a number of criteria beyond the size of the economy, including housing affordability; access to education and the internet; personal safety; environmental quality; and “density of physicians,” as a proxy for access to health care.
“Economic and social inclusion have never been under such intense scrutiny and the rankings show that Ottawa is characterised by a clean environment and overall quality of life,” said Bruno Lanvin, founder of business advisory D&L Partners, which compiled the data for the report.
These elements “are key to ensuring a city’s population can all share in the benefits of a truly equitable society,” he added.
Watch: What you need to earn to join Canada’s “one per cent club.” Story continues below.
Montreal was the second-highest ranking Canadian city, in the 26th spot, making it less inclusive than Washington, D.C. (11th place), Seattle (14th place) and Boston (16th place).
But Montreal ― the largest city in North America with a female mayor ― took top spot for gender inclusiveness, the survey found.
Toronto ranked 35th, putting it at similar levels of inclusiveness as London (33rd) and New York City (38th). No other Canadian cities were studied.
Toronto’s relatively weak showing is a sign that wealthier cities aren’t necessarily better at providing for their most marginalized residents. The study noted there is no overlap between the top 10 richest cities and the top 10 most inclusive cities.
And failing to address inequities could have serious social consequences, the researchers warned.
“Recent upheavals in cities as diverse as Paris, Hong Kong and Santiago have had very different origins. However, they indicate that serious tensions may erupt even in cities that are relatively richer. Inequalities — real or perceived — act as a trigger, and as a fuel to instability,” Lanvin said in a statement.