“Indigenous Peoples in Canada are an integral part of the country, accounting for 5% of the population and 2.5% of pre-pandemic GDP. However, despite these numbers, they face significant challenges in the labor market, with lower participation rates, higher unemployment rates, and an 8% hourly wage gap compared to non-Indigenous Canadians.
The Infrastructure Gap: A Major Hurdle
The root of the issue lies in the wide infrastructure gap, estimated at $350 billion by the Assembly of First Nations. Indigenous Peoples are more likely to be underhoused, with limited access to high-speed internet, especially those living on reserves. This lack of infrastructure restricts access to economic and educational opportunities, which in turn impacts their overall output in the Canadian economy.
The Call for Action: Bridging the Gap
Addressing this infrastructure gap is not only a matter of social justice, but it also presents an opportunity to boost Indigenous output by up to 17%. This would lead to increased employment levels, productivity, and wages earned, benefiting not just the Indigenous population, but the Canadian economy as a whole. It’s a win-win situation that demands attention and action.
Labour Market Disparities: Higher Education as the Deciding Factor
The disparities in Indigenous labor market outcomes are further exacerbated by educational imbalances. Indigenous Peoples have lower chances of obtaining post-secondary degrees, with a large gap in educational attainment compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. As a result, those without higher education face wider income gaps, emphasizing the need for interventions that address these disparities.
The Roadmap to Progress: Investing in Education and Infrastructure
Investing in education can significantly improve labor market outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, with the potential to boost their participation and employment rates. As the Canadian population ages and labor shortages become more acute, Indigenous youth represent a valuable resource that, with the right infrastructure and educational support, can contribute greatly to the economy.
In conclusion, closing the Indigenous infrastructure gap and addressing educational disparities are essential steps in leveling the playing field and unlocking the potential of the Indigenous population. Not only would this benefit Indigenous communities, but it would also add to the overall productive potential of the Canadian economy. It’s time to bridge the gap and create a more inclusive and equitable future for all Canadians.”