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This article was published 11/10/2017 (254 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — Almost all First Nation reserves in Manitoba have median incomes that fall below the poverty line, according to 2016 census data tabulated by The Canadian Press.
The news agency compiled census figures for areas identified as Indigenous communities, and found about 81 per cent of reserves across Canada had median incomes below the low-income measure, which Statistics Canada considers to be $22,133 for one person.
In absolute numbers, of the 367 reserves for which there was data on total individual median incomes, 297 communities fell below the low-income measure, while just 70 registered median incomes above the de facto poverty line. There were 27 communities that reported median total incomes below $10,000.
In Manitoba, 55 reserves were tabulated, and just two have median incomes above the poverty line: York Landing ($22,720) and section 21I of Opaskwayak Cree Nation ($39,808). The poorest Manitoba community tallied was Birdtail Creek ($4,592).
The median income among those 55 communities was just $11,915. The overall provincial median is $34,188, which is similar to the national figure.
The income figures come from tax filings for 2015, the year the Trudeau Liberals were elected in part on a promise to improve economic outcomes for Indigenous people, who collectively face the harshest poverty and housing conditions in the country.
But the figures are not a full picture of on-reserve incomes. Many of the communities registered so few residents that Statistics Canada had to suppress their data out of concerns for their privacy.
The agency plans to provide more robust census data at the end of the month as part of its ongoing effort to paint a five-year portrait of the evolving Canadian population.
In meetings last week, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde called for a meeting between Indigenous, federal and provincial leaders next year to work on closing the economic gap with the wider population.
Previous research on Indigenous incomes has shown that Aboriginal Canadians regularly earn less than the median income. A 2014 study found Indigenous people were almost as disadvantaged in 2006 as they were 25 years earlier in 1981.
Martin Cooke, an author of that 2014 study, said previous research has suggested income isn’t tied to location, such as being in a remote community.
"There’s not a clear geographic pattern," said Cooke, an associate professor in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo.
"To me that’s the interesting thing: it’s not all geography."
— with files from The Canadian Press
Parliamentary bureau chief
In Ottawa, Dylan enjoys snooping through freedom-of-information requests and asking politicians: "What about Manitoba?"