RBC Future Launch

The Best Cities in Canada for Youth to Work

Urban Work Index 2023

Over 86% of Canadian youth aged 15-29 live in urban centres*. As Canada’s population ages, it’s now more important than ever to make sure our urban centers are vibrant places that attract and retain a youthful workforce. Now in its third iteration, the Urban Work Index 2023 ranks 30 cities across Canada to find the best places for youth to work and live.

Want to find the best city based on what matters to you? Take the Best Work City quiz.

Background: Vancouver, British Columbia from the top of the Vancouver Tower. Winning submission for the Urban Work Index 2023 Photo Contest by Azuz Al-Rubaye.

30

Cities†

10

Topics

167

Measurements

Toronto ranked the best city for youth, but will they stay?

While Toronto ranks in the top five for 7/10 topics in the Urban Work Index, it’s the most unaffordable city in Canada.

Toronto ranks 1st in Education + Training and Entrepreneurial Spirit and ranks in the top five in 6 other topics. The city has a strong holistic opportunity to retain and attract youth, providing opportunities for learning, creativity, connection, and diversity. However, affordability remains a major hurdle for youth in their formative years.

Over the last 5 years, Toronto’s (CMA) net loss of youth 15-29 due to interprovincial migration was more than 10,000, while the coastal cities of Halifax and Vancouver both gained over 10,000 in the same period. While Vancouver ranks 3rd overall, gaining the most youth interprovincially, it’s also one of the least affordable cities.

All Québec cities ranked in the top 10 overall with Montréal ranking 2nd. Montréal ranked in the top ten for 7/10 topics, while Laval and Québec both ranked in the top ten for 4/10 topics. While the cities made it to the top ten, all three did not fare well in City Economy and Health, scoring below the 50th percentile.

Charlottetown is chasing top spot, ranking 4th overall. It finished in the top ten in 7/10 topics, including in the top five for City Economy, Good Youth Jobs, Climate Action and Health. Depending on what youth prioritize, Charlottetown can be the number one choice for when looking for affordability, economy, and jobs. However, Charlottetown ranks in the bottom 10 for Transportation, Diversity, and Digital Access.

Charlottetown, with a population of only 38,000, showcases the opportunity and potential each city holds.

*Urban centres are defined as Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) and Census Agglomerations (CAs). Statistics Canada. Table 98-10-0126-01  Marital status, age group and gender: Canada, provinces and territories, census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations

†In this report, the term “cities” or “city” may refer to individual cities or groups of cities, such as Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo. For a full explanation of the rationale behind city groups, see the methodology.

What to learn more about the Urban Work Index 2023 and what’s next for Youthful Cities? Attend an upcoming information session.

Urban Work Index 2023 overall rankings

Land Acknowledgement

The Urban Work Index was led by Youthful Cities, which is on the traditional territory of the Wendat, Anishnaabe, Haudenosaunee, Mississaugas of the New Credit. We are an organization that works remotely all over Turtle Island. This urban exploration and information gathering project covers 30 cities, and we are grateful to have had this opportunity to engage…

On the West coast, the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), səl̓ ilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Qayqayt, Semiahmoo, Stó:lō, Tsawwassen, W̱SÁNEĆ, and the lək̓ ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) People, today known as the Esquimalt and the Songhees Nations.

In the North, Interior, and on the Prairies, the territory of the syilx (Okanagan Nation), the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council; Chief Drygeese Territory to the north,  traditional home of the Yellowknives Dene and the North Slave Métis; Treaties 1, 4, 6, and 7, the lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy (including the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai First Nations), the Tsuu T’ina, Anishinaabeg, Cree, OjiCree, Dene, the Nakota / Lakota / Dakota Peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

In what is known as Ontario and Quebec, a territory encompassing many treaties, including the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, the Between the Lakes Purchase (1792), the Haldimand Tract, Upper Canada Treaties, Williams Treaties, Robinson-Huron Treaties, the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Attawandaron, Erie, Haudenosaunee, Kanien’kehá:ka, Lūnaapéewak, Mississaugas, Oneida of the Thames, Six Nations of the Grand River, Wendat, and the Abenaki peoples.

On the East Coast, the traditional unceded territory of the Maliseet, the Mi’kmaq People, and the Beothuk, the land of the Peace and Friendship treaties.

Regional trends for the Urban Work Index 2023

Top Five Cities By Topic

Top five cities in each topic

Where are Youth Going?

  • Overall, we’re seeing a shift from the centre of Canada to the east and west coasts. Over the last five years, Regina and Saskatchewan had the greatest net loss of youth due to interprovincial migration per capita.
  • Halifax places 1st for net gain of youth through interprovincial migration over the last five years on a per capita basis and 2nd overall on an absolute basis. Halifax also gained the most youth per capita in the last five years through immigration.
  • All 3 cities in Alberta had minor gains of less than 3.5%, seeming to reverse an out-migration trend seen in the first couple years (2016-2018) of the 5 year average.
  • On the east coast, Halifax, Moncton, and Charlottetown all had major gains of over 5%, with St. John’s being the exception (-5.83%).
  • On the west coast, Vancouver had the highest absolute gain overall. It gained 2.75% of youth on a per capita basis. Victoria gained over 10% of youth in the same period as percentage of the youth population.
Interprovincial Migration 2015/2016 - 2021/2022 of 15- to 29-year-olds
Statistics Canada. Table 17-10-0136-01  Components of population change by census metropolitan area and census agglomeration, 2016 boundaries

Topic Breakdown

Affordability

Inflation impacted several areas from housing to food to transit has impacted urban livability for young people. Minimum wages have not been proportionality increasing in accordance with cost of living. Affordability for young people is more than just surviving, it’s about thriving and contributing back to cities, and planning for the future such as for home ownership.

Top 3 Cities
    • Laval: Lowest average consumer debt, second lowest core housing need, best home ownership opportunity for youth (after tax income of 25-34 as a ratio to the benchmark home price), and 4th best for cost of living on a monthly basis (based on housing rent, food costs, transportation costs, mobile plan, and gym membership).  
    • Québec: Ranked 2nd in affordability with lowest core housing need and 3rd best city for home ownership opportunity for youth (after tax income of 25-34 as a ratio to the benchmark home price)
    • Ottawa-Gatineau: Second lowest cost of living per month (based on housing rent, food costs, transportation costs, mobile plan, and gym membership).
Facts
  • Lethbridge is the most affordable city for young people based on a monthly income to monthly cost of living surplus/deficit. 
  • Laval is the best city for home ownership for young people (ratio of after tax income of 25-34 year olds to benchmark home price). 
  • Toronto is the least affordable city for young people and has the highest core housing need at 15.80%.

Health

Health became a major topic during the pandemic across cities, and as they recover it remains a major issue. Health is determined by a multitude of factors including urban resources such as doctors and hospitals, mental health services and professionals in communities and in post-secondary environments, and access to food. Social factors like education, housing, gender, race and employment status all contribute to impacting health for young people. A holistic approach will always be required to ensure the wellbeing of cities.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Charlottetown: Most urban health resources per capita (family doctors, hospitals, and community health clinics), 3rd most food banks per capita, and in the top five for mental health professionals per capita.
  2. Victoria: Second in health with most mental health professionals per capita, diverse post secondary mental health resources, and 3rd most community mental health resources per capita (mental health services and non-profits in the mental health space).
  3. St. John’s: Third in health with 2nd most mental health professionals per capita and most food banks per capita.
Facts
  • Victoria has the most mental health professionals per capita and the most family doctors per capita.
  • Youth in Laval 18-34 years old had the best mental health perception overall.
  • On a per capita basis, Charlottetown had the most hospitals and community health clinics.

Good Youth Jobs

Good Youth Jobs explores the proportion of young people who are employed, as well as the opportunities available to young people, the wages, and the support and guidance available to develop their careers. As cities move on after the pandemic, young people are still facing challenges ahead. The job market will continue to face changes in the near future with a growing gig economy and transformation of workplaces. Youth employment will continue to face challenges as service, entertainment, and hospitality industries comprise the youth entry-level job force, while professional occupations also see shifts.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Moncton: Ranked 1st with a second highest percentage of youth (15-29) employed and with access to various post secondary career services, including job boards for students, co-op programs, and career services available to recent graduates/alumni. Moncton also has a youth unemployment rate lower than the national average. 
  2. Fredericton: Similar to Moncton, Fredericton had a strong performance in youth employment and post secondary career services. Fredericton is trailing right behind Moncton for open/available jobs in March 2023. 
  3. Charlottetown: Ranked 3rd with the highest youth employment on a per capita basis, while performing average on post secondary career services, and youth employment centers per capita.
Facts
  • Québec has the lowest youth unemployment rate at 6.7% with Newfoundland having the highest at 17.7% (March 2023).
  • Fredericton and Moncton have the highest full time youth employment rate for 25-29 year olds at 91.9% followed by Charlottetown at 91.8%. All three cities also have the highest full time employment rate for 15-24 year olds.

Transportation

Movement and adequate transportation infrastructure is essential for young people to ensure access to jobs, opportunities and resources. Considering young people in public transit designs is essential. Their professional and personal lives rely on the frequency and availability of different modes of transportation, whether they be active modes like biking or walking, or more passive like taking the bus, subway or train.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Montréal: Ranked 1st with highest hourly availability of public transit per week, strong public transit safety and connectivity (such as distress buttons, a night stop program, a transit app, transit connectivity to airport), and best bike and walk scores.
  2. Ottawa-Gatineau: Ranked 2nd in transportation with strong public transit safety and connectivity, having various alternative modes of transportation such as scooters and bicycle rentals and the 3rd best bike score.
  3. Sudbury:Ranked 3rd in transportation by performing strongly in commute by public transit (availability and commute time), good public transit safety and connectivity, and ranking in the top 10 for bike and walk scores.
Facts
  • Calgary has the most affordable youth transit pass followed by Charlottetown
  • Victoria ranked best city for commute by public transit based on the number of hours a week public transit operates and commute times. 
  • Montréal ranked the best city for both bike score and walk score.

City Economy

A diverse and equitable city economy and an environment where youth can thrive is crucial. Young people are on the move interprovincially with varying reasons to choose new cities to work and settle in. The city economy is interconnected with many components that impact a city’s overall population and the ability for cities and employers to find and attract talent.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Halifax: Ranked 1st in city economy with highest net gain in interprovincial youth migration per capita (last 5 years) and highest net youth immigration in last five years per capita. Halifax also performed well in commercial office rent and number of business improvement areas per capita. 
  2. Charlottetown: Ranked 2nd in city economy with smallest gender wage gap, and the greatest net gain based on per capita for 5 year population change.
  3. Yellowknife: Ranked 3rd for youngest population age, smallest gender gap in labor force participation, and 5th lowest gender wage gap among the 30 cities.
Facts
  • Over the last 5 years, Vancouver gained over 14,000 youth from interprovincial migration with Halifax 2nd at over 10,000. 
  • Yellowknife has the youngest average population age at 36 and one of the smallest gender gaps in labour force participation. 
  • Québec has the highest percentage of 25-29 year olds with a post secondary education (40.6%), which contributes to a professional labour force.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Belonging and inclusion within our communities play a large factor in whether someone chooses to stay in a city. Cities with workplace and social efforts to ensure inclusivity are appealing and foster a more diverse population. This means that they offer a welcoming and safe environment that is representative of the diversity of cultures of those who live there and provide public services to meet the needs of different people.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Brampton: Ranked 1st with the highest population of immigrants per capita, a high population with a non-official language mother tongue, and with municipal policies for accessible public spaces and anti-racism and anti-discrimination work.
  2. Mississauga: Similar to Brampton, Mississauga has a high population of immigrants per capita and municipal policies for accessible public spaces and anti-racism and anti-discrimination work.
  3. Toronto: Ranked 3rd with inclusive municipal policies for anti-racism work, accessible bylaws for infrastructure, and public spaces.
Facts
  • Mississauga (53.2) and Brampton (52.9) are the only two cities where over 50% of the population is made up of immigrants. Additionally, over 50% of both cities’ population speaks a non-official language as their mother tongue.
  • Oshawa ranked the lowest for police reported hate crimes per capita in 2022 with 42 reports. On a positive note, 28 of the 30 cities, including Oshawa, have a committee to do anti-racism and anti-discrimination work.
  • At least 24 of the 30 cities have municipal budgets to maintain accessible accommodations made to public infrastructure.

Education + Training

The education topic takes into account the opportunities for educational development (such as where campuses are located, the post secondary opportunities, accessibility of scholarships, fees for education and libraries), as well as measuring the enrollment in educational institutions. Cities with a range of opportunities for coop programs and exchange strengthen the knowledge needed by young people to enter the workforce.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Toronto: Ranked 1st by doing well across multiple indicators, including available scholarships for BIPOC students, diverse availability of post secondary exchange programs, good network of libraries, and a competitive gender balance in the largest post secondary institution.  
  2. Montréal: Performed strongly in student enrollment in post secondary (both undergraduate and graduate), central location of biggest main campus, and having one of the lowest domestic tuition fees across Canada. 
  3. Saskatoon: Tied Toronto in gender enrollment balance in the largest post secondary institution. Additionally, Saskatoon has a centrally located main campus and a good network of libraries.
Facts
  • Calgary has the most post secondary exchange program countries at 58.
  • Québec has the most affordable domestic tuition fees, while Whitehorse has the most affordable international tuition fees for the largest post secondary institution.
  • St. John’s ranked best city for availability of scholarships for BIPOC students.

Digital Access

In today’s online world, access to technology and the internet is essential to being a part of the workforce. This is especially important when we consider how the work landscape has changed with remote and hybrid work. Having wifi, high speed broadband, and access to information and data are all required to work in this modern day. Municipalities need to be providing and promoting this access to young people entering the labour force.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Toronto: Ranked 1st with lowest cost of high speed broadband internet and access, most free wifi locations per capita, and multiple internet and mobile service providers.
  2. Montréal: Performed strongly in low cost of high speed internet (tied with Toronto) and second most free wifi locations per capita. 
  3. Québec: Ranked 3rd with a low cost for high speed broadband internet and diverse availability of mobile service providers.
Facts
  • Toronto has the most free wifi locations per capita at 11562, double the next closest city of Montréal with 5949 locations.
  • Edmonton has the most open data results at 2461, making municipal data accessible to the public.
  • High speed internet accessibility remains a challenge in the Territories with Whitehorse and Yellowknife lagging behind to provide gigabit+ speeds.

Climate Action

For Climate Action, cities have a lot more agency on environmental sustainability. Even where cities are in the same region, there are city-level differences. Young people are at the forefront for change and are emerging with the skills and knowledge cities need to adapt and be resilient to climate change.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Vancouver:  Ranked 1st with strong composting bylaws, including curbside pickup and multi-unit programs, a well-rounded recycling program, and with the most nature trails for residents. 
  2. Montréal: Ranked 2nd with a well-rounded municipal composting program, including curbside pickup and multiunit programs, a well-rounded recycling program for hard-to-recycle materials, and a large municipal green fleet (including electric buses).
  3. Toronto: Ranks highest for urban density (population per square km) and fairs well in both recycling and composting bylaws and programs.
Facts
  • Styrofoam is only recyclable in 13 of the 30 cities, and plastic bags can now be recycled in 22 of 30 cities.
  • Charlottetown, Victoria, Vancouver, and Laval are doing well in adopting EV charging networks, while the remaining cities are well behind on a per capita basis.
  • Vancouver has 650 nature walking trails within the CMA, more than 2x that of the next closest city with Ottawa-Gatineau at 296.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Entrepreneurial Spirit reflects the innovation and creativity of a city. In the index we captured the number of accelerators; businesses; coworking spaces; microgrants; investors (seed and early VC); startups and scaleups, and the amount of startup funding. These factors combined foster an environment to create, innovate, and adapt.

Top 3 Cities
  1. Toronto: Ranked 1st with the most startups, investors (pre-seed and seed stage), and coworking spaces per capita. It was also the 3rd best city for startup accelerators.  
  2. Montréal: Ranked 2nd with most startup funding provided in 2022 and having the most accelerators. It also has the 3rd most co-working spaces per capita. 
  3. Vancouver: Ranked 3rd with 2nd most startups, availability of municipal and nonprofit microgrants for youth/urban activation, and the 2nd most businesses.
Facts
  • Montréal and Toronto had the highest amount of funding provided to startups in 2022, each providing over $3 billion dollars. Even when looked at on a per-capita basis, these cities still come up on top.
  • Toronto had the highest number of coworking spaces available with over 100. 
  • On a per capita basis, Montréal had the highest amount of accelerators, followed by Calgary.

Cities At a Glance

British Columbia / Yukon

Vancouver

Overall ranking: 3

Overall population: 2,398,887

Youth population (15-29): 471,410

Vancouver ranked in the top 10 for 7 of 10 topics including, Education + Training, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Digital Access, Transportation and Health. However, Vancouver does not fare well in Affordability ranking 28th due to cost of living and 18th in Good Youth Jobs. Sitting in the top 3 in overall rankings, Vancouver has the opportunity to improve low employment rates for young people and address Affordability to maintain top spots for being one of the best cities for young people to work in.

  • Strength: Highest number of walking trails with a total of 262.
  • Strength: Ranked 3rd for Entrepreneurial Spirit with the 2nd highest number of startups at 5291.
  • Room for improvement: Only 49% of young people in full time employment compared to the national average of 69.8%.

Victoria

Overall ranking: 12

Overall population: 209,602

Youth population (15-29): 40,565

Ranking 12th overall, Victoria took 2nd spot for health and 9th for climate action. Its young people can enjoy good access to healthcare, including access to community mental health services and mental health professionals. Victoria ranks 26th for Cost of Living. It has a low percentage of young people in full time and part time employment, but equally offers its youth one of the highest provincial minimum wages.

  • Strength: Ranked 1st for number of mental health professionals per capita with 133 total. 
  • Strength: Ranked in the top 5 for urban health resources per capita with 5 hospitals, 651 doctors, and 2 community health clinics.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked in the bottom 10 for home ownership opportunity (comparing annual after tax income of 25-34 year olds to benchmark prices).

Kelowna

Overall ranking: 19

Overall population: 144,576

Youth population (15-29): 28,305

Kelowna ranked 8th for Transportation with transit Affordability for youth and 9th in Health, with access to mental health professionals. However, it ranked 26th for Education, particularly for the location of their main campus. With Kelowna ranking average in Good Youth Jobs and in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion there remains an opportunity to become a city for youth.

  • Strength: Ranked 7th most affordable youth transit pass at $55 per month.
  • Strength: Ranked in the top 10 for number of mental health professionals per capita.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked low in education with a main university institution far from the city centre and lack of gender equality in enrollment numbers.

Whitehorse

Overall ranking: 26

Overall population: 28,201

Youth population (15-29): 5,230

Whitehorse ranked 5th for Health and 4th for City Economy. It also ranked 6th in Good Youth Jobs. It has one of the highest ranks for youth perception of their mental health. However, its barrier to being an attractive city for young people to work and live in lies in it having the lowest overall youth employment rate and not faring well in topics such as Education + Training, Digital Access, and Transportation.

  • Strength: Ranked 3rd for number of mental health professionals per capita.
  • Strength: Smallest gender gap in labour force participation.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last in Digital Access with limited access to broadband internet and slow internet speeds of 29 Mbps.

Alberta / Northwest Territories

Calgary

Overall ranking: 11

Overall population: 1,306,784

Youth population (15-29): 240,240

Ranking 11 overall, Calgary ranked 5th for entrepreneurial spirit, 7th for education and training, and 9th for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Youth in Calgary can enjoy the widest opportunities for post secondary international exchange programs, post-secondary career services after their graduation, and a growing hub for startups. The city placed 4th for the amount of total startup funding provided in 2022. However, its high consumer and mortgage debt ranked it 25th for Affordability and low youth minimum wage ranked it 24th for good youth jobs.

  • Strength: Ranked 6th most population diverse city with 1 in 3 people identifying as immigrants.
  • Strength: Ranked 4th for amount of total startup funding provided in 2022.
  • Room for improvement: Tied for lowest youth minimum wage in Canada at $13 per hour.

Edmonton

Overall ranking: 14

Overall population: 1,010,899

Youth population (15-29): 199,380

Ranking in the middle of the pack, Edmonton took 5th spot in education and training. It has scholarships for BIPOC post-secondary students and has a higher than average gender enrollment balance in the largest post secondary. It also ranked in the top 10 for education + training, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and Entrepreneurial Spirit. Edmonton ranks 25th for Good Youth Jobs and it has some of the highest costs of public transit for youth.

  • Strength: Ranked 6th for monthly income after living expenses with a monthly surplus for youth of $454.94.
  • Strength: Ranked in the top 10 for commuting by public transit with transit operating for 147 hours per week.
  • Room for improvement: Tied for lowest youth minimum wage in Canada at $13 per hour.

Lethbridge

Overall ranking: 27

Overall population: 98,406

Youth population (15-29): 20,590

Lethbridge ranked 9th for affordability overall by providing the greatest monthly surplus for youth after living expenses. The city ranked 12th for transportation and 19th for Entrepreneurial Spirit. However, it ranked 27th in Education, 24th for Health, 27th in good youth jobs, and 25th in City Economy.

  • Strength: Lowest cost of living on a monthly basis based on youth income, providing youth a $753.79 surplus per month.
  • Strength: Ranked 6th for home ownership opportunity (ratio of 25-34 year old after tax annual income to benchmark home price).
  • Room for improvement: Ranked 27th in Education + Training with the lowest enrollment in post secondary education at the largest institution.

Yellowknife

Overall ranking: 30

Overall population: 20,340

Youth population (15-29): 4,135

Yellowknife, while ranking 30th, ranked 3rd for City Economy and 4th for Entrepreneurial Spirit. It ranked 18th for affordability, 18th for education, and 14th for health. However, Yellowknife did not fare well for Good Youth Jobs, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Digital Access, and Transportation, ranking in the bottom 5.

  • Strength: Youngest city with an average population age of 36 years old.
  • Strength: Smallest gender gap in labour force participation.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last for Good Youth Jobs with a youth unemployment rate of 16%.

Saskatchewan / Manitoba

Saskatoon

Overall ranking: 22

Overall population: 266,141

Youth population (15-29): 55,070

Saskatoon ranked 3rd for Education & Training and 13th for City Economy and Good Youth Jobs. It boasts one of the lowest youth unemployment rates. Among the remaining topics, Saskatoon’s performance was average among topics such as Entrepreneurial Spirit and Health. The city ranked 27th for Transportation and 28th for Digital Access.

  • Strength: Centrally located post secondary campus within 2 km of city centre.
  • Strength: Ranked 3rd for lowest unemployment rate across Canada at 4% (male and female average).
  • Room for improvement: Ranked 27th in Digital Access with the second slowest internet speeds at 25.59 Mbps vs national average of 56.82 Mbps.

Winnipeg

Overall ranking: 18

Overall population: 749,607

Youth population (15-29): 153,895

While ranking 18th overall, Winnipeg ranked 6th for Affordability with the lowest overall consumer and mortgage debt per person. Ranking 7th for Transportation and 11th in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the city is in a good position to improve in Good Youth Jobs, City Economy, Education + Training, and Entrepreneurial Spirit. However, it ranked 28th for Good Youth Jobs, with few youth employment centres, which could be a barrier to finding work.

  • Strength: Second lowest consumer debt at $17,095.
  • Strength: Ranked in the top 10 for public transit availability at over 133 hours per week.
  • Room for improvement: Average internet speed of 43 Mbps (download), ranking in the bottom 10 cities.

Regina

Overall ranking: 24

Overall population: 226,404

Youth population (15-29): 43,335

Regina ranked 8th for Good Youth Jobs. It offers its youth a range of post-secondary career services and has one of the highest rates of youth employment. Regina ranked average in Affordability, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and City Economy. Regina’s performance in Entrepreneurial Spirit ranked it 30th. Despite this, Regina remains a city where youth can make a monthly surplus after living expenses and have an opportunity to own a home.

  • Strength: Ranked 1st for post secondary career services.
  • Strength: Second lowest youth unemployment rate at 6.9% (March 2023).
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last in Entrepreneurial Spirit with low number of startups, investors, accelerators, and coworking spaces.

Ontario

Toronto

Overall ranking: 1

Overall population: 2,794,356

Youth population (15-29): 564,415

Toronto ranked 1st in 3 topics, including Education + Training, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Digital Access and in the top 5 for 5 additional topics. Ranking 30th for Affordability, it remains a costly city for youth to work and live in. Over the last 5 years, Toronto’s (CMA) net loss of youth 15-29 due to interprovincial migration is more than 10,000. The city has a strong opportunity to retain and attract youth with the provided opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, Good Youth Jobs and with strengths in Health and Diversity.

  • Strength: Overall highest ranking city for Education, with 100 library branches and the opportunity to have international post secondary exchanges in 40 countries.
  • Strength: Ranked 1st for Entrepreneurial Spirit with most amount of startups, investors, and accelerators.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last for Affordability with high cost of living out of all of the cities with an average deficit of -$453 per month for young people (living cost to income per month).

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo

Overall ranking: 5

Overall population: 516,800

Youth population (15-29): 112,430

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo ranked 7th for Good Youth Jobs and 5th for City Economy, providing a solid foundation of job opportunities, fair salaries and support to find work. It also ranked 6th for equity, diversity and inclusion, and 9th in Education + Training. However, its lower ranking in Affordability and Transportation challenges it for a higher overall ranking. Kitchener – Cambridge – Waterloo has strong assets that set the foundation for improvements in lower ranking topics, becoming a top city for youth to work and live in.

  • Strength: Smallest difference between the number of men and women in professional occupations (0.21%). Gender enrollment gap for post-secondaries is also low.
  • Strength: Ranked 6th overall for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with the presence of both anti-discrimination work and inclusive municipal policies.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked low for Affordability with an average debt per person of $166,000.

Mississauga

Overall ranking: 7

Overall population: 717,961

Youth population (15-29): 148,065

Mississauga ranked 7th overall, getting a boost from ranking 2nd in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and 4th in Climate Action. Ranking 6th in Entrepreneurial Spirit the city also offers its youth opportunities and network for invention. However, its high Cost of Living, ranking 29th is a barrier to it being an accessible place for youth to work and live. Whilst in education it has scholarships for BIPOC post-secondary students, it also has one of the highest overall tuition rates at its largest post secondary campus.

  • Strength: 53.2% of the population are immigrants vs a national average of 26.7%.
  • Strength: 53.9% of the population speak a mother tongue other than English or French vs a national average of 29%.
  • Room for improvement: Youth in Mississauga have an average deficit of $-534.56 per month, compared to an average national surplus of $148.89 per month after expenses and incomes are taken into account.

Hamilton

Overall ranking: 13

Overall population: 569,353

Youth population (15-29): 108,725

Hamilton ranked 4th for Education + Training, including offering one of the highest number of scholarships for BIPOC post-secondary students, however had a higher than average domestic tuition rate at the largest post secondary. The city also placed 6th for Digital Access. It ranked 24th in City Economy, 21st in Entrepreneurial Spirit, and 20th in Affordability. The city has an average performance across several topics that needs a boost to maintain its number 13 rank overall.

  • Strength: Ranked 4th in Education with scholarships available for students identifying as BIPOC and a better than average gender enrollment gap.
  • Strength: Ranked in the top 10 for internet download speed at 73.06 Mbps.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked in the bottom 10 out of 30 cities for domestic tuition fees, costing $8170 annual at the largest post secondary institution.

London

Overall ranking: 15

Overall population: 422,324

Youth population (15-29):  88,680

London ranked 5th for Digital Access and 9th for Transportation. It is a top ranking city for transit safety and connectivity with ease to get around the city and features such as real-time transit apps, designated waiting areas and night stop programs. It ranked average for Good Youth Jobs and City Economy, and 22nd for Entrepreneurial Spirit.

  • Strength: Tied for 10th for commute by public transit with an average time of 34.3 minutes.
  • Strength: Third smallest gender wage gap for median employment income.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked below 20th in Entrepreneurial Spirit with only 1 accelerator identified.

St. Catharines - Niagara

Overall ranking: 16

Overall population: 286,968

Youth population (15-29): 50,760

St Catharine’s – Niagara ranked 11th for Digital Access and Transportation, and ranked 12th for Affordability. Showing potential for it to create a foundation for young people to work and move, the city doesn’t have a high professional occupation base for young professionals. It also ranked 29th in City Economy and 27th for Entrepreneurial Spirit, and fared average across the remaining topics.

  • Strength: Ranked 7th for Affordability with a monthly surplus for youth of $332.88 (youth income minus cost of living)
  • Strength: Ranked 5th for post secondary career services to support students and graduates in gaining experience and transitioning to employment.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked 29th in City Economy, losing more youth than they gained over the last five years to interprovincial migration.

Brampton

Overall ranking: 17

Overall population: 656,480

Youth population (15-29): 153,615

Brampton ranked 1st for Diversity with a high percentage of the population speaking a non-official language and/or an Indigenous language as their mother tongue and a high percentage of the population who are immigrants. It also ranked 7th for Entrepreneurial Spirit and 6th for City Economy. Although it ranked 28th for Education, it has one of the lowest annual tuition rates for international students, which may make it more accessible.

  • Strength: Ranked 1st for diversity with over 50% of the population speaking a mother tongue other than English or French.
  • Strength: Ranked 6th for most affordable tuition for international students.
  • Room for improvement: Third lowest opportunity for home ownership (based on annual after tax income of 25-34 year olds to benchmark home price).

Windsor

Overall ranking: 20

Overall population: 229,660

Youth population (15-29): 47,730

Windsor’s strengths lie in Transportation, for which it ranked 5th, particularly for its fast commute by public transit. It also ranked in the top 10 for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. However, it ranked 25th for Entrepreneurial Spirit for low levels of start-up funding. Being the 3rd most affordable city in Ontario, Windsor has an opportunity to retain and attract youth, supported by education improvements in which it ranked 15th out of 30th.

  • Strength: Ranked 3rd for commute by public transit with a 34.5 minute average commute time and transit available for over 140 hours per week.
  • Strength: Ranked 7th for lowest average mortgage debt at $137,000.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last for 5 year population change, experiencing the smallest gains per capita.

Greater Sudbury

Overall ranking: 25

Overall population: 166,004

Youth population (15-29): 30,085

Greater Sudbury ranked 3rd in Transportation and 4th in Affordability. The city ranked below average for the remaining topics. Being the most affordable city in Ontario among the rankings, the city has a potential for young people if it works on improvements in topics such as education, Good Youth Jobs, Transportation, and Health.

  • Strength: Ranked 4th for Affordability with a positive monthly surplus (youth income minus youth expenses) of $342.11.
  • Strength: Third lowest core housing need at 5.5% compared to the highest at 15.80%.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked 29th for number of urban health resources per capita (family doctors, hospitals and community health clinics).

Oshawa

Overall ranking: 28

Overall population: 175,383

Youth population (15-29): 36,945

Oshawa ranked 13th for Health, performing well for having post-secondary mental health services. However, it ranked 30th for Transportation, with the longest average commute time by public transit, 28th for City Economy ranking lowest in labour force participation gender gap.

  • Strength: Ranked 7th for population change over the last 5 years, adding over 48,000 people.
  • Strength: Ranked 6th for number of food banks per capita with 7 total.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last for Transportation with a 56.1 minute average commute by public transit vs a national average of 38 minutes.

Québec

Ottawa-Gatineau

Overall ranking: 6

Overall population: 1,308,490

Youth population (15-29): 256,605

Unlike other major cities, Ottawa – Gatineau ranked 3rd for Affordability while ranking 6th overall. Compared to the cities which rank above it, it ranked highly as a place where youth are most likely to realistically be able to afford a home and with a Good Youth Jobs ranking in 10th place. With more emphasis on its Entrepreneurial Spirit (rank: 18th) and Education + Training (rank: 16th), the city could thrive as a place for youth to work and live for the long term.

  • Strength: Ranked 3rd overall for Affordability with high annual after tax income for 25-34 year olds versus the benchmark price of a house.
  • Strength: Ottawa-Gatineau provides both scooter and bike rentals and has one of the highest bike scores at 64.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked low for Entrepreneurial Spirit with no known municipal microgrants available for youth.

Montréal

Overall ranking: 2

Overall population: 1,762,949

Youth population (15-29): 361,705

Montréal ranks highly across several topics, including 1st in Transportation, and 2nd in Education + Training, Entrepreneurial Spirit, and Digital Access. Montréal also ranks 9th for Good Youth Jobs with one of the highest number of job vacancies but one of the lowest number of youth employment centres, which would support young people entering the workforce. It ranked 21st for Health with a below average youth perception of their mental wellbeing. By focusing on improvements in Health and City Economy, Montréal has the potential to take the #1 spot in the future.

  • Strength: Ranked 3rd to commute by public transit with 168 hours a week of transit operations.
  • Strength: Main post secondary campus is approximately 1 km from the city centre, compared to a national average of 4 km.
  • Room for improvement: Fourth lowest number of mental health professionals per capita.

Québec

Overall ranking: 8

Overall population: 549,459

Youth population (15-29): 96,115

Ranking 8th overall, the city of Québec is one of the most affordable places for youth to live, ranking 2nd for Affordability as the city with the best opportunity for young people to own a home. However, it ranked 30th for Health and 29th for Entrepreneurial Spirit, particularly for its poor ranking for mental health resources and the perception youth have of their mental health. Given its relatively high ranking in the index overall, it has the potential to retain and attract youth as a great place to work.

  • Strength: Ranked 3rd overall for Digital Access with some of the cheapest broadband internet ($42.99) compared to other cities (average $51.30).
  • Strength: Ranked 2nd overall for Affordability with 96.6% of housing being adequate, affordable and suitable compared to a national average of 90.74%.
  • Room for improvement: The lowest ranking city for Health, Québec has one of the lowest per capita food banks overall (5 in the city).

Laval

Overall ranking: 9

Overall population: 438,366

Youth population (15-29): 76,110

Laval ranked in the top 10, placing 9th overall. Laval took top spot for Affordability with its low levels of debt and high levels of housing security, It also ranked in the top ten for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Education + Training, and Climate Action. Like other cities in the Québec region, Laval ranked in the lowest 5 for Health (29th). Although it ranks low overall for the number of mental health professionals, it was the highest ranking city for how youth perceive their mental health.

  • Strength: Best city for young people to own a home (comparing after tax income of 25-34 year olds to benchmark home price).
  • Strength: Second lowest core housing need among the 30 cities.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked lowest for number of mental health professionals per capita.

East Coast

Charlottetown

Overall ranking: 4

Overall population: 38,809

Youth population (15-29): 9,225

At number 4 spot overall, Charlottetown is competing for top spot against three major cities. Ranked in the top 5 in the topics of Good Youth Jobs, City Economy, and Health, the city has both a strong base in the ecosystem of work and urban attractions for work topics. It has strengths in its youth employment centres, youth employment rate, and ranked as the highest overall city for urban health resources per capita. It ranked 7th for Affordability, beating the top major cities. Ranking 26th for Digital Access and 21st for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the city has areas to improve, potentially allowing Charlottetown to take top spot in the future.

  • Strength: Ranked highest overall for Health with 100 family doctors for the city, one of the highest per capita.
  • Strength: Most electric vehicle charging points per capita with 40 total.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked in the bottom 5 for Digital Access with the slowest broadband speed overall (21.98 Mbps compared to an average of 56.8 Mbps).

Fredericton

Overall ranking: 21

Overall population: 63,116

Youth population (15-29): 13,935

Fredericton excelled in ranking 2nd for Good Youth Jobs particularly for its high youth employment rate, and 6th overall in Health by placing third in number of mental health professionals per capita. It also ranked in the top 10 for Affordability and City Economy. While ranking low in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and in Transportation, Fredericton is doing well in many areas that can support young people in working and living in the city.

  • Strength: Ranked 2nd for Good Youth Jobs with 76.8% of youth 15-29 employed full time.
  • Strength: Ranked 5th for number of mental health professionals per capita.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked in the lowest 5 cities for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for lack of population diversity with only 12.6% population identifying as immigrants.

Moncton

Overall ranking: 23

Overall population: 79,470

Youth population (15-29): 15,475

Moncton ranked 1st for Good Youth Jobs with a high youth employment rate. The city also ranked 5th overall for Affordability and 7th in Health. However, it ranked 30th for Education + Training with limited access to libraries and few scholarships for BIPOC post-secondary students. Moncton has a strong foundation for young people if improvements in Education, Transportation (ranked 26th), and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (ranked 28th) are made.

  • Strength: Ranked 3rd for most affordable tuition fees for international students.
  • Strength: Lowest average mortgage debt at $114,000.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked last in Education + Training with only 1 out of 6 points received for BIPOC scholarships.

St. John's

Overall ranking: 29

Overall population: 110,525

Youth population (15-29): 21,965

Like several other of the east coast cities, St John’s ranked highly for Health (overall 3rd) with the highest number of food banks and one of the highest number of mental health professionals per capita. However, it was one of the lowest ranking cities based on the perception of youth mental health. It ranked 29th for Good Youth Jobs since it has one of the lowest numbers of youth employment centres and the highest youth unemployment rate.

  • Strength: Highest number of food banks per capita with 13 total.
  • Strength: Ranked 2nd for number of mental health professionals per capita with 92.
  • Room for improvement: Ranked in the lowest 3 cities for City Economy with 2nd lowest 5 year population gain per capita.

Halifax

Overall ranking: 10

Overall population: 439,819

Youth population (15-29): 88,780

Halifax took the final top 10 spot, beating out a major city by less than 2 points overall. It ranked first in City Economy. Halifax saw the second greatest net gain of youth interprovincial migration over the past 5 years. However, it will need to focus on its healthcare and labour force participation rates in order to rise in the ranks. Unlike other cities in the East Coast, Halifax was an outlier in its low ranking for Health (28th).

  • Strength: Second greatest net gain of youth via interprovincial migration with over 10,000 total.
  • Strength: Highest net youth immigration in last five years per capita with 12,942 total.
  • Room for improvement: Ranking 28th overall for Health, 19.9% of youth perceive their mental health as fair or poor, compared to an average of 17%.

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