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Toronto ranked second best Canadian city
A global survey released on Monday says Toronto is the second-best Canadian city in which to live.
The annual survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting found that Vancouver led the ranks as Canada's most livable city, followed by Toronto. Globally, Canada's largest city ranked 15th in overall quality of life.
It is the second year in a row that Toronto ranked 15th.
Vancouver has ranked third in a global survey covering 215 cities that measures overall quality of life, coming behind Swiss cities Zurich and Geneva.
Other Canadian cities that made a showing in the survey were Ottawa at 18th; Montreal at 22nd; and Calgary at 24th.
Mercer Human Resource Consulting gave Vancouver a score of 107.7 that tied the city with Vienna in the annual ranking of the quality of life, and behind Zurich with 108.1 and Geneva at 108.
Danielle Bushen, a principal at Mercer in Toronto, said Vancouver scored well across the board, but that its weakness was crime.
"Crime rates in North America tend to be slightly higher than in Europe in general and this holds true when you compare locations like Zurich and Geneva to Vancouver," Bushen said.
The global ranking scored 215 cities around the world based on 39 quality of life determinants including social, economic, environmental and personal safety factors.
Cities were ranked against New York as the base city, which was given the index score of 100.
All five Canadian cities ranked higher than any of the U.S. cities on the list.
The highest ranked U.S. city was Honolulu, at the 27th spot on the list.
Bushen told The Canadian Press that cold Canadian winters do not count against cities such as Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.
For the most part, she said, they are safe places to live.
"All of those things that could cause real differences in quality of life, and really create significant limitations on a person's quality of life, just aren't an issue. So we rate very highly," she said.
Baghdad was ranked the world's least enticing city with a score of 14.5.
Other low-scoring cities included Brazzaville in Congo with a score of 29.6, Bangui in the Central African Republic with 30.6 and Khartoum in Sudan and 31.
Calgary No. 1 in health and sanitation
All the Canadian cities in the survey also appeared in the top 25 ranking for health and sanitation with Calgary ranking as the top city in the world, followed by Ottawa in fourth, Montreal and Vancouver tied for 10th and Toronto coming in the 21st spot.
"There are a significant number of days in Toronto, particularly in the summer time, when there are air quality advisories. So while overall quality of life is great, in that one area Toronto rates a little bit lower," Bushen said.
The health and sanitation scores were based on the quality and availability of hospital and medical supplies and levels of air pollution and infectious diseases.
The efficiency of waste removal and sewage systems, water potability and the presence of harmful animals and insects are also taken into account.
Nearly half of the 30 top-scoring cities surveyed are in Western Europe.
Helsinki had the highest score for the region, at the third spot with a rating of 128.5.
In the U.S., Honolulu ranked second followed by Minneapolis in fifth place and Boston, Lexington and Pittsburgh tied at 10th.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the highest-ranking Middle Eastern cities and share position 58 with a score of 112.9.
African cities typically rank in lower positions than their European and Middle Eastern counterparts, with many appearing in the 20 bottom-scoring cities.
"The availability of public and private hospital care, together with modern medical infrastructure, means healthcare standards in Europe are generally very high. Medical provision in the Middle East, especially the United Arab Emirates, has also benefited from substantial government investment," said Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer.
"In impoverished countries -- where medical care and sanitation are often poor -- it can be advisable for expatriates to seek private treatment."
Japan is home to the five highest-rated cities in Asia, with Katsuyama leading in 9th position.
Indian cities score relatively poorly for health and sanitation, with Chennai in the 177th spot and Mumbai coming in at 209th.
The low ratings were a result of densely populated cities struggling with increasing air pollution, coupled with poor waste removal and sewage systems.
The lowest-ranking city for health and sanitation is Baku in Azerbaijan, which scored 27.6.
Other low-scoring cities include Dhaka in Bangladesh, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Au Prince in Haiti, which scored 29.6, 30.1 and 34 respectively.
"Poor countries often lack adequate medical infrastructure including hospitals and health networks. Furthermore, provision of care is hampered by poor sanitation and unsafe water facilities in many areas," said Parakatil.
"The development of efficient waste removal and sewage systems, coupled with government investment in medical infrastructure, will be key to avoiding pandemic outbreaks of diseases and for improving general living standards."
Mercer conducts the survey to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments.
"Companies managing a global workforce must take into account a range of factors when structuring remuneration packages for their expatriate employees," Yvonne Sonsino, principal at Mercer, said in a written statement.
"Organizations can struggle to find suitably qualified local staff when operating overseas and so rely on benchmark data to ensure the rewards they offer encourage employees with transferable skills to accept international assignments."
The top 10 city rankings, plus Canadian cities, for overall quality of living according to Mercer Human Resource Consulting's 2007 global quality of living survey:
1. Zurich, Switzerland 108.1.
2. Geneva, Switzerland. 108.
3-4. Vancouver, Canada. 107.7; Vienna, Austria. 107.7 (tie).
5-6. Auckland, New Zealand. 107.3; Dusseldorf, Germany. 107.3 (tie).
7. Frankfurt, Germany. 107.1.
8. Munich, Germany. 106.9.
9-10. Bern, Switzerland. 106.5; Sydney, Australia 106.5 (tie).
15. Toronto. 105.4.
18. Ottawa. 104.8.
22. Montreal. 104.3.
24. Calgary. 103.6.

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