Aboriginal, Non-Aboriginal Wage Parity in Canada Will Take 63 Years: Study

Dollar coinThe Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) just released its latest paper, The Income Gap Between Aboriginal Peoples and the Rest of Canada.

Authored by Daniel Wilson and David Macdonald, the study looks at data collected in the 1996, 2001 and 2006 Canadian Censuses, to identify trends and raise questions about the persistent income gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada.

It is well-known that income earnings for First Nations, Métis and Inuit continue to lag behind non-Aboriginal Canadians, but this paper takes a unique approach to the data, including its look at where Aboriginal people live, educational attainment and gender.

The report is easy to read, includes excellent graphs and table, and is a great resource. Here are some of the highlights for me:

  • At the 1996–2006 “rate of diminishment,” it will take 63 years for the Aboriginal population to close the income gap with the rest of Canada
  • For reasons yet unknown, Canada’s Métis population experiences median incomes closer to the Canadian average than to other Aboriginal groups
  • On urban reserves, non-Aboriginal people make up 44% of those working and earn 34% more than First Nation workers. Meanwhile, on rural reserves, non-Aboriginal Canadians, despite making up just 9% of the working population, earn a shocking 88% more than their First Nation colleagues
  • Aboriginal women are nearly twice as likely as Aboriginal men to obtain a university degree or higher
  • At the Master’s or Bachelor’s degree levels, Aboriginal people have essentially the same median incomes as non-Aboriginal people, but Aboriginal people without degrees consistently make far less than non-Aboriginal Canadians with the same education level

Importantly, the study looked at the income levels of Aboriginal women. While they continue to constitute the poorest population in Canada, the authors take notice of the following:

  • relative to non-Aboriginal women and men, Aboriginal women’s median incomes are closer to Aboriginal men’s
  • Aboriginal women who have obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher enjoy higher median incomes than non-Aboriginal Canadian women with equivalent education

The report concludes with some solutions for closing these persistent income gaps. Among these, the authors call for erasing old assumptions, looking at policies that move from “assimilation to reconciliation” and coming to terms with Canada’s colonial history.

[Image via woody1778a]

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