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Economic Outcomes Improved Overall for Indigenous Peoples in Canada - But Are Not on Track to Meet 2022 Targets of Economic Parity
The 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report released June 10, 2019 by the National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB) concludes that while the overall economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples are improving in Canada, this is only to varying, and sometimes small degrees. Given the pace of improvements, outcomes are not on track to meet the 2022 targets of economic parity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.
"We've seen some of the greatest gains being made in the area of college and trades completion by Indigenous students, who now surpass the non-Indigenous population by 2.6 percentage points in 2016," said Chief Clarence Louie, NIEDB Chairperson. "The deficit gap in median income levels has also significantly narrowed by 9.3 percentage points and the gap in high school completion rates has narrowed by 4.5 percentage points."
The report finds that not all indicators have shown improvements, however, and not all improvements have occurred equally across the three Indigenous identity groups.
"The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment rates has remained essentially unchanged at 8.4 percentage points in 2016 and, for university completion rates, the gap actually grew to 18.8% with a 1.7 percentage point increase," said Ms. Dawn Madahbee Leach, NIEDB Vice-Chair. "First Nations populations on reserve also continue to demonstrate persistent and sometimes worsening outcome deficits in terms of employment rates, income, and educational levels."
The Indigenous Economic Progress Report presents a thorough, in-depth analysis of the economic realities of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Using 13 measures, it assesses three core indicators: employment, income and community well-being. Using 19 additional measures, it also examines five underlying indicators of economic success: education, entrepreneurship and business development, governance, lands and resources, and infrastructure.
Eleven measures are new to the 2019 progress report, such as workforce representation, enhanced income and educational attainment measures, crowding and condition of housing, and community financial certification. The 2019 report also presents the results of gender analysis and introduces two new NIEDB composite indices on Economic Development and Infrastructure.
"The gender analysis reveals some interesting findings," said Dr. Marie Delorme, NIEDB member. "We found that Indigenous populations demonstrate greater gender parity than non-Indigenous populations. We also determined that Indigenous women would benefit more from support in the areas of employment and income, while Indigenous men would benefit more from support in education."
The 2019 report is the second progress report issued by the NIEDB since its foundational Aboriginal Economic Benchmarking Report was published in 2012. The benchmarking report set bold targets on which to track the economic progress of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in Canada. This includes the target to achieve economic outcome parity by 2022.
"While gaps are closing, we found that they are not on track to meet our 2022 goal," said Chief Terrance Paul, NIEDB member-at-large. "We urge government to respond to our recommendations so we can meet these targets over the next three years."
Among its recommendations, the NIEDB advises that policies and programming should target First Nations populations on reserve in the areas of infrastructure, employment and education. It also recommends the development of youth-focused educational supports to help Indigenous peoples finish high school and continue on to post-secondary education, as well as skills development programs to help Indigenous employees of high-wage industries increase their earning potential in higher-paying roles.
"Indigenous economic development offers huge potential to improve lives, fuel Canadian economic growth, advance reconciliation, and provide a growing young workforce to Canada's aging labour population," said Chief Louie. "Closing this gap would boost Canada's economy by $27.7 billion annually."
The NIEDB is in Labrador this week to discuss various aspects of Indigenous economic development, including community readiness, business support models, and building the economic potential of lands and resources while minimizing impacts.