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

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Police investigating felling of old cedars at Cottonwood Lake

One of the cedars was 300 to 450 years old

Castlegar non-profit’s stolen van located

Kootenay Society for Community Living’s van was stolen May 14.

Interior Health study offers take-home drug testing kits to spot fentanyl

Interior Health to evaluate safety of at home drug testing kits aimed at reducing fentanyl overdoses

Kootenay Columbia adopts $48-million school budget

Kootenay Columbia trustees adopted the 2019/2020 budget on May 2

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Most Read