Census: Median income in most Indigenous communities below poverty line

According to income data from 2016 census, 80 per cent of Aboriginal reserves have median incomes that fall below the poverty line.

Four out of every five Aboriginal reserves have median incomes that fall below the poverty line, according to income data from the 2016 census that provides insight into the depth of poverty facing Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

A Canadian Press review of census figures for areas identified as Indigenous communities found about 81 per cent of reserves had median incomes below the low-income measure, which Statistics Canada considers to be $22,133 for one person.

In absolute numbers, of the 367 reserves for which there was data on total individual median incomes, 297 communities fell below the low-income measure, while just 70 registered median incomes above the de facto poverty line.

At the lowest end, 27 communities reported median total incomes below $10,000.

Women fared marginally better than males, according to the data. About 22 per cent of female incomes on-reserve was over the low-income measure, compared to about 19 per cent for males.

The income figures come from tax filings for 2015, the year the Trudeau Liberals were elected in part on a promise to improve economic outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, who collectively face the harshest poverty and housing conditions in the country.

The Liberals are finalizing a national housing strategy with specific initiatives targeting Indigenous communities, and have been meeting with Indigenous leaders about what is needed in an Indigenous-specific poverty reduction strategy.

But the figures are not a full picture of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Many of the communities registered so few residents that data had to be suppressed out of concerns for their privacy.

Statistics Canada plans to provide more robust census data at the end of the month as part of its ongoing effort to paint a five-year portrait of the evolving Canadian population.

So far, the emerging picture of Indigenous Peoples living on reserve shows a significantly younger population — thanks to a fertility rate that far exceeds its non-Indigenous counterpart — but with shorter life expectancies and much lower incomes.

In September, Statistics Canada reported a spike in income levels in 2015, thanks to a prior boom in commodity prices, particularly in the Prairies, that pushed median total household income to $70,336, up 10.8 per cent from a decade earlier.

Only 26 of the 503 of reserves with income data had higher median household incomes. Totals — which include sources like employment, investments and government benefits — ranged from $13,168 in Manitoba’s Roseau River First Nation to $114,381 in Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern shore of James Bay in Quebec.

What’s not clear from the numbers is precisely how those incomes are earned, whether resources are shared or if those who do better have specific advantages over those who do not. Each community is different, said Marshall Ballard, director of business, employment and social development with the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Just Posted

“Does Kirby care?” Heiltsuk Nation using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

“No excuse” for killing of two young grizzly cubs

Reader hopeful someone will come forward with information

UPDATE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

No delivery services hard on local families

New parents Candace Knudsen and Bjorn Samuelsen spent five weeks away from home

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read