HALIFAX - Indigenous people play an important and growing role in the Atlantic economy, but economic indicators show that there is more work to be done to fully realize their economic potential, says to the latest Report Card from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).
There are about 129,000 people of Indigenous identity in Atlantic Canada, about 6 per cent of the region’s population. The Indigenous population is young, with half under 35 years of age, and growing rapidly, the report says.
“The economic impact of direct spending by Atlantic Indigenous communities is estimated at $1.1 billion, mainly band spending,” said APEC’s senior policy analyst, Fred Bergman.
“The economic impact could be doubled if we close the education and labour market gaps for Indigenous people in Canada.”
While many Indigenous businesses are succeeding, the Indigenous labour force tends to have higher unemployment rates and lower education levels than non-Indigenous persons. Policy priorities should focus on labour and education outcomes such as skills development and training; enhancing Indigenous business participation in the supply chains for major projects and government procurement; and adopting inclusion and diversity policies.
Partnerships with non-Indigenous communities and businesses may also be of value to develop joint community economic initiatives.