A study published by Upstream Institute found that 47 per cent of First Nations children on- and off-reserve live in poverty. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Half of Indigenous children live in poverty, study says

OTTAWA — Indigenous children face the highest rates of poverty in the country, with almost one in every two living in households with low incomes, says a new study that shows little improvement in the situation over the last decade.

The study published by the Upstream Institute, written by researchers at the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, finds that 47 per cent of First Nations children on- and off-reserve live in poverty.

That figure rises to 53 per cent when looking at First Nations children living on reserves — the highest rate of child poverty anywhere in Canada.

The on-reserve child-poverty rate is roughly three times the national rate of 17.6 per cent reported in the 2016 census.

Taking a deeper dive into a decade of census data, the researchers found that poverty rates barely budged downward for most Indigenous communities between census counts in 2006 and 2016. At the same time, the number of children on reserves stayed stagnant over that time at about 120,000, so it’s not a matter of growing populations outstripping social programs and economic growth. The researchers say that “points to a failure to undertake effective solutions.”

There were, however, some exceptions.

On-reserve child poverty rates in Quebec were lower in 2016 than they were in any other province, largely as a result of agreements with First Nations governments to share revenues from natural resources.

Metis child-poverty rates dropped to 22 per cent from 27 per cent, but did so at the same time that the number of people identifying as Metis rocketed upward. The researchers suggest that the decline in poverty rates might be because of more better-off people describing themselves as Metis on census forms.

Inuit child-poverty rates declined to 25 per cent from 27 per cent between 2006 and 2016, but about half the Inuit population is excluded from poverty figures because they live in the territories and Statistics Canada does not believe its low-income measures work there.

Official poverty statistics don’t examine the situations on reserve except during census counts, which the researchers say must change to better track anti-poverty efforts. Not tracking these figures, the study says, may muddle the statistics nationwide.

Earlier this year, the national statistics office reported that in 2017, the most recent year available, about 622,000 children in all lived below the newly adopted official poverty line, a decline of 278,000 since 2015.

“It is time to officially acknowledge that poverty exists on reserves and in the territories,” the study says. “The causes of poverty among Indigenous Peoples are varied. Solutions must address this complexity. A necessary first step requires a clear set of goals with transparent criteria.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance after fatal hit and run

A male pedestrian was fatally injured Sunday afternoon after being hit by… Continue reading

Oilers 50/50 raffle delayed further as team resolves errors, offers refunds

EDMONTON — A record-setting Edmonton Oilers 50/50 draw won’t have a winner… Continue reading

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Aug. 9

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:50… Continue reading

Liberals turn over thousands of pages on WE decision, lawyers now vetting docs

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government has handed over thousands of pages… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Cast your votes for Best of Red Deer

The Advocate’s Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are back. Community… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake couple donates $850,000 to AACS

The doantion will be put towards a new X-Ray machine for the facility

Call the police if you’re disturbed by noisy vehicles

I’m disgusted at the nightly vehicle noise in Red Deer. Night after… Continue reading

Explosion helps to hasten the meltdown of Lebanon

Beirut has been living with car bombs and air raids on a… Continue reading

Take comfort — it could be hotter

If it’s one thing we humans are pretty good at, it’s complaining… Continue reading

Singer Salome Bey, known as Canada’s first lady of the blues, dies at age 86

Singer Salome Bey, known as Canada’s first lady of the blues, has… Continue reading

US investigates electrical fires in 2014 Chrysler minivans

DETROIT — The U.S. government’s road safety agency is investigating complaints of… Continue reading

Greece slams Turkish announcement on energy research in eastern Med

ATHENS, Greece — Greece on Monday slammed a Turkish announcement that it… Continue reading

Most Read