North

Indigenous, non-Indigenous wage gap in the North up to 3 times national average: report

The Conference Board of Canada says a gap still exists between the incomes of Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people in the three territories.

Conference Board of Canada says wage gap in the North can be reduced with university degrees

A wage gap exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the North, but not necessarily when it comes to those with a university education. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Yukon, Nunavut and the N.W.T. rank among the highest when it comes to average income in Canada, but this reality doesn't benefit everyone equally.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, a noticeable gap exists between the incomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The independent research organization, based in Ottawa, released a report Wednesday on the quality of life in the North called How Canada Performs: Social outcomes in the Territories.

Across Canada, Indigenous women and men with a high school diploma earned between 15 and 19 per cent less than their non-Indigenous peers, but the gap is much larger in the territories.

"The largest gap for Indigenous men is in Nunavut," said Adam Fiser, a senior research associate with the Conference Board of Canada. 
Adam Fiser, Senior research associate with the Conference Board of Canada, says there's a large wage gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the north.

"In 2010, Indigenous men [in Nunavut] earned 61 per cent less than their non-Indigenous peers. Indigenous men in Yukon with a high school diploma earned 38 per cent less and in the Northwest Territories Indigenous men earned about 46 per cent less."

Closing the gap

According to Fiser, university degrees are helping to close the gap. In Yukon, for example, Indigenous men and women who have university degrees made at least 25 per cent more than their non-Indigenous peers.

Fiser said gathering data for the North was a challenge and that the report is designed as a diagnostic tool to identify gaps, more than to prescribe solutions.

But the report identifies key ways the gap can be closed.

Fiser said the territories should "invest in youth early," by "focusing on education, focusing on their cultural backgrounds and identities so that they feel that when they go through school, it's providing meaningful opportunities for them, that it's not separating them from their heritage."