The start of one’s career is one of the most (if not the most) formative experiences a young person can go through. And according to Stats Canada, over 86% of Canadians aged 15 to 29 live in urban centres – so choosing the right city is key. When it comes to the best cities for young people, there are many factors to consider, ranging from affordability to entrepreneurial spirit.

Presented by RBC Future Launch, the 2023 Urban Work Index looks at what makes a city appealing for young people to work in, particularly when it comes to accessibility and inclusivity.

Using data from Stats Canada, the index ranks the 30 most “youthful cities” based on the following factors:

  • Climate action
  • Equity
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Good youth jobs
  • Education and training
  • Digital Access
  • City Economy
  • Affordability
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Transportation and health

“RBC Future Launch focuses on preparing young Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow, and where they live is one of the biggest decisions at the beginning of their careers,” said Mark Beckles, vice president, Social Impact & Innovation, RBC. “Our partnership with Youthful Cities allows us to bring together governments, public and private sector partners, city builders and young people to explore the topic of urban work – what’s working well and what needs to improve.”

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best cities in canada for young people
Photo via Youthful Cities

Now, let’s dive into the ranking. Recognized as the top city in Canada for young people to live and work in, Toronto snagged the #1 spot, followed by Montreal and Vancouver respectively.

While it ranked last in affordability and revealed the largest loss of the youth population, Toronto still came out on top, ranking #1 in education and training, digital access, and entrepreneurial spirit.

So while the city may not be retaining as many young people as others, it’s certainly attracting many with the help of a dedicated set of scholarships for BIPOC students, exchange programs, libraries, low-cost internet and free Wi-Fi access, and start-up friendly environment.

Montreal also scored high in education and training and entrepreneurial spirit – in addition to strong transportation access. The city’s public transit system has the highest hourly availability per week, along with strong safety measures such as distress buttons and a night stop program through a transit app.

Finally, we come to Vancouver, which ranks the highest in climate action thanks to its strong composting bylaws, recycling system, and array of nature trails.

You can view more notable rankings and cities via the full Urban Work Index.