What’s the Best City in Canada to Live and Work for Youth?

By RBC Modified on May 08, 2019
Tags : Careers

A first-hand look at living and working in Canadian cities, as seen through the eyes of Canadian youth.


The world of work is changing, and the jobs of the future will be vastly different than today’s. With robotics, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the changes to the job market may require young people to prepare differently than previous generations.

“Sadly, one facet of work has not changed,” says Robert Barnard, co-founder of YouthfulCities. “Canada’s acceptance of a youth unemployment rate that is double the national average.”

The Urban Work Index

In order to understand what the youth work landscape looks like right now, YouthfulCities created the first-ever Urban Work Index. The index is a research-driven report pooling insights on the employment, education, affordability, and entrepreneurship landscapes in 21 Canadian cities.

“We consulted 170 young people across Canada to see what was important to them about work in cities,” says Barnard in his introduction to the Urban Work Index.

“Research like the Urban Work Index is important not only for engaging dialogue in the public arena and between generations,” says Caitlin Mcauliffe, an Urban Decoder from Sudbury, ON who worked on the index. “But also to inform, aid and provide insight for planners, policy makers and local decision makers with the goal of improving cities and urban work for youth.”

“Youth clearly want more affordable housing, less student debt, good jobs and cities that really support entrepreneurs. Overall we landed on 16 unique attributes that make or break a city as a great place to work for youth,” Barnard says.

“To be clear, the Index is not a list of winners and losers,” says Valerie Chort, vice president of RBC Corporate Citizenship. “Instead it provides a closer look at the opportunities that exist within our urban centres.”

Best Cities in Canada to Live and Work for Youth:

  1. 1. Edmonton
  2. 2. Montreal
  3. 3. Ottawa
  4. 4. Sudbury
  5. 5. Kitchener/Waterloo
  6. 6. Hamilton
  7. 7. Quebec City
  8. 8. Mississauga
  9. 9. Victoria
  10. 10. Toronto

Work and Employment in Canada

One important takeaway from this research is the expansive understanding of what ‘work’ truly means. Straightforward employment and unemployment measures are important, but to understand the ‘why’ behind these measures, researchers decided to broaden their understanding of what factors into ‘work.’

Work and employment do not operate in silos, but are deeply connected to indicators such as: access to education, government attitudes toward entrepreneurship, work integrated learning, and affordable housing. Creating a great city for young people to work in means broadening the definition of ‘work’ itself.

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