According to a new Statistics Canada report, Indigenous workers with relatively low annual earnings were the most likely to receive payments from the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit.
This is part of the general findings of the report, released Wednesday, which examined the CERB program among First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
Available from March 2020 to September 2020, CERB provided up to $500 per week to eligible Canadians up to a maximum of $14,000 over 28 weeks.
According to the report, of all workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019, more Indigenous workers (39.2%) than non-Indigenous workers (33.9%) received CERB payments.
“About 41.5% of First Nations workers received CERB payments in 2020, while 36.2% of Métis workers and 40.3% of Inuit workers did the same,” the report said.
Co-author Huda Masoud said the report pulls information directly from CERB records and Statistics Canada’s long-form census to examine the socio-economic characteristics of Indigenous workers who received benefits between March and September 2020.
Inuit and CERB
The report focused largely on various differences in the reception of CERB by Inuit men and women in the four Inuit regions and those living in the South.
Among the report’s findings: In Inuit Nunangat, the proportion of Inuit workers who received CERB in 2020 was highest for those who lived in Nunavik (47.1%), followed by those in Nunavut (41.7 %).
People living in Nunatsiavut were least likely to receive CERB (26.4%).
Masoud said the report noted these differences between the four Inuit regions, but did not delve into the reasons behind them.
The report also found that among Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat, the highest proportion receiving CERB in 2020 was seen among those aged 25 to 54 (45.3%).
Outside of these regions, younger Inuit, aged 15 to 24, were more likely to receive payments (46.9%).
Overall, Inuit workers living inside Inuit Nunangat were more likely to receive CERB (42.1%) than those living outside (36.2%).
Inuit men living in Inuit Nunangat (44.6%) were also more likely to receive CERB than women (39.5%), with little gender difference seen outside of Inuit regions.
Again, the report did not examine the reasons for these regional or gender differences, but it did look at overrepresentation in lower-paying jobs and certain industries such as accommodation and food services as well as the construction.
So that “may have been a factor” in why more Inuit men than women in the North received CERB, Masoud suggested.
Northwest Territories and Yukon
The report concluded that among the three territories, 40.2% of people who received CERB payments were Indigenous, compared to 18.3% who were non-Indigenous. This was the largest gap between any jurisdiction in Canada.
According to the report, the pandemic and economic downturn had “disproportionate impacts on Indigenous peoples, who were more vulnerable due to pre-existing disparities, such as lower incomes, higher levels of poverty and food insecurity, rooted in the historical and current impacts of colonization”. .”
As Masoud noted of Inuit CERB recipients, the report says the overrepresentation of Indigenous workers who have turned to CERB may reflect their overrepresentation in low-paying jobs and in pandemic-affected industries.
In the Northwest Territories, the territorial government is the largest employer, employing over 5,000 of the territory’s workforce, or about 26,700 people.
Government jobs have been largely protected during the pandemic, but those jobs in the Northwest Territories are largely filled by non-Indigenous residents.
According to the NWT Public Service Annual Report 2020-2021, only 29.3% of the government workforce is Indigenous. In senior management, this figure is 20%. Census data shows that Aboriginal people make up approximately 51% of the territory’s population.
In the Yukon, only 15% of Yukon government employees are Indigenous, even though 22% of the Yukon population identifies as First Nations, Inuit or Métis.
In the Northwest Territories and Yukon, 43.2% of CERB recipients were First Nations, while 28.2% were Métis.