New study: Staggering levels of Indigenous child poverty in Canada

Published on, by SANA MALIK, June 21, 2013 (with map: from BAD to WORSE).

… A new study released this week finds Indigenous children in Canada are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than non-Indigenous children.

The report, co-published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children Canada, deplores the state of Indigenous child poverty and social welfare across the country.

The contrasts in levels of poverty between non-Indigenous and Indigenous children in this country are clear. “The average child poverty rate for all Indigenous children in Canada is 40 per cent, compared to 15 per cent for non-Indigenous children,” says David MacDonald, a Senior Economist with the CCPA and co-author of the study … //

… The difference in poverty levels between status and non-status Indigenous children can, in part, be explained by regional and jurisdictional variations. Non-status children receive social services from provinces, while services for status First Nations and those on reserves falls under the federal government. In most respects, the former fare much better in these findings.

Coupled with these troubling results, and deteriorating conditions across reserves, there is added momentum for the Indigenous population to defend their rights and draw attention to poverty and marginalization.

A report published earlier this year by the McDonald-Laurier Institute warns of potential for a large-scale “uprising” and increasing social friction.

Canada is home to about 1.2 million Indigenous people — a population that is rapidly growing faster than any other demographic group. Significantly, Canada’s performance in addressing child poverty is dire overall — the OECD ranks the country 25th among 30 countries.

“The Indigenous population is the fastest growing in Canada. With adequate and sustained support these people will become an integral part of society and the workforce — particularly as baby boomers retire,” says Daniel Wilson, a former diplomat, Indigenous rights advocate and co-author of the study. “But if we refuse to address the crushing poverty facing Indigenous children, we will ensure the crisis of socioeconomic marginalization and wasted potential will continue.”

Wilson told CBC news that the depth of the poverty is greater than what the data reports: “[First Nations Children] waking up in an overcrowded home that may have asbestos, probably has mould, is likely in need of major repair, that does not have drinking water and they have no school to go to.” (Wilson also contributes a blog to

Despite the enormous disadvantages faced by Indigenous youth in breaking out of a cycle of poverty, the report indicates that staggering socioeconomic inequality is preventable.

According to the study, $1 billion a year is required from either market income or government transfers to lift all Indigenous children up to the poverty line. Despite this fact, the report indicates that federal transfer payments for social services have increased by merely two per cent since 1996.
(full text).


Poverty or Prosperity: Indigenous Children in Canada, June 2013, 44 pdf-pages;

Indicative New South Wales Indigenous Population, Projections 2006 to 2021, by NSW Aboriginal Houzsing Office AHO, by Khalidi, Noor Ahmad, Ed. AHO 2008, 50 pdf-pages;

Half of First Nations children live in poverty, Rate rises above 60% in Saskatchewan, Manitoba (Canada), on CBCnews Canada, by Amber Hildebrandt, June 19, 2013;

National Aboriginal Day: Long, hot summer ahead? on Wilson’s blog, by DANIEL WILSON, June 21, 2013;

The Political History of American Inequality (with 5 charts), on naked capitalism, June 22, 2013.

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