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  • Writer's pictureThink Upstream

Status First Nations child poverty rates deplorably high

Almost half of status First Nations children live in poverty—by far the highest rate of child poverty of any other group examined, says a new report published by Upstream Institute.

An Indigenous child in Canada peers through two feathers.

Towards Justice: Tackling Indigenous Child Poverty in Canada­—released in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)—tracks child poverty rates using Census 2006, the 2011 National Household Survey and Census 2016.

“Child poverty rates on First Nations reserves are deplorably high for a country as rich as Canada,” says co-author David Macdonald, senior economist with the CCPA. “What’s worse is that is that these rates haven’t shown any improvement since 2005.”

Among the key findings:

  • Tier One poverty: 53% of status First Nations children living on reserve and 41% of status First Nations children living off reserve live in poverty—reflecting the deepest level of poverty—much higher than the national average child poverty rate (18%);

  • Tier Two poverty: Recent immigrant children (35%), non-status First Nations children (32%), Inuit children (25%), and Métis and racialized children (22% each) experience the second highest level of poverty;

  • Tier Three poverty: Children who are non-Indigenous, non-racialized, and non-recent immigrant have the lowest rate of child poverty in Canada, at 12%;

  • Comparing regions: For Status First Nations children living on reserve in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 65% live in poverty. In contrast, 29% of Status First Nations children living on reserve in Quebec live in poverty, driven by a lower rate among the James Bay Cree (Eeyou Itschee) of Northern Quebec.

“The evidence is clear: poverty rates among Indigenous children are far higher than non-Indigenous children,” says Think Upstream Executive Director Trish Hennessy. “Income and Indigenous status are well-known social determinants of health—the impact of child poverty can affect their life chances. A Health in All Policies approach is one part of the solution.”

Upstream_report_final_English_June-24-2019 (2)
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