Feds fail to measure social, economic gaps between First Nations, others: audit

Indigenous Services Canada is failing to measure the social and economic gaps of First Nations

Indigenous Services Canada is failing to measure and accurately report the social and economic gaps between First Nations people on reserves and other Canadians, auditor general Michael Ferguson said Tuesday.

“These findings matter, because measuring and reporting on progress in closing socio-economic gaps would help everyone involved —including Parliament, First Nations, the federal government, other departments and other partners — to understand whether their efforts to improve lives are working,” Ferguson said in his annual spring report.

“If the gaps are not smaller in future years, this would mean that the federal approach needs to change.”

The report found the department is not using large amounts of data provided by First Nations and other sources. It also has failed to engage meaningfully with First Nations people in order to report whether their lives on reserves are improving.

Ferguson said the index which Indigenous Services uses to measure the social and economic well-being of First Nations people on reserves is not complete because it doesn’t include certain aspects important to First Nations people, such as health, environment, language and culture.

It does include education, employment, housing and income as components of well-being.

Ferguson noted the department did not measure the education gap on reserves, which he said has widened in the last 15 years.

His report found that education results for First Nations students have not improved compared with other Canadians and the information that was reported by the department was inaccurate.

“The department’s method of calculating and reporting the on-reserve high school graduation rate of First Nations students overstated the graduation rate, because it did not account for students who dropped out between Grades 9 and 11,” it said.

Using department data from the 2011-12 to the 2015-16 fiscal years, Ferguson’s auditors calculated graduation rates that accounted for all students who dropped out in Grades 9, 10, 11. His office found these rates were 10 to 29 percentage points lower than reported by the department.

This means that the department’s data shows about 46 per cent of First Nations students graduated, but Ferguson’s report showed that only about 24 per cent of students who started in Grade 9 actually finished high school within four years.

The department did not report on most education results to determine if the gap was closing, nor did it collect data to improve programs or inform funding decisions, or assess data for accuracy and completeness. It was unable to report how federal funding for on-reserve education compares with funding levels for other education systems across the country.

Ferguson also looked at how Social Development Canada implemented, monitored, reported on and improved two programs aimed at helping Indigenous people find jobs.

He found the department did not collect data or identify performance indicators that would show whether the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy and the Skills and Partnership Fund were increasing the number of people getting work.

When the department used data, it was old. The report found that the department allocated money under the training strategy based on information from 1996, which doesn’t reflect current needs. The department did not reallocate funding to groups that had been consistently and successfully training individuals and helping them get jobs.

Ferguson’s audit found the department could show that the two programs had helped people find jobs, but couldn’t say whether those jobs were part-time or full-time or how long people stayed employed.

Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

Canada’s best ready to take a run at Bear Mountain

2020 Pan American Cross Country Cup will be held Feb. 29 at Langford resort

Oak Bay High piano fundraising committee raises a glass to donors

Oak Bay High brings Fiddler on the Roof Feb. 28 to March 7

Black History Month: Documentary sheds light on black pioneers’ role in Victoria

Secret Victoria: Rush to Freedom looks at how a mass migration shaped the capital

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Most Read