Study: Half of Canada's aboriginal children poor

New study finds half of Canadian aboriginal children living in poverty

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -- Half of Canada's aboriginal children are living in poverty, triple the national average, according to a new analysis of census statistics released Wednesday.

The study by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives said indigenous children trail the rest of Canada's children on practically every measure of well-being: family income, educational attainment, water quality, infant mortality, health, suicide, crowding and homelessness.

The report points out First Nation children often live in communities that are impoverished when it comes to services and infrastructure.

The analysis is based on Canada's latest census in 2006. The low income measure amounts to $38,000 a year for a family of four.

The study urges an increase in government spending but also says the key is to remove barriers to education, training and employment.

David Macdonald, the economist who co-authored the study for the policy center, said the situation is even worse in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where almost two out of three status First Nations children live in poverty.

The study also found that a third of immigrant children and almost one-quarter of visible minority kids live below the low income line.

Study co-author, Daniel Wilson, said the indigenous population is the fastest growing in Canada.

"If we refuse to address the crushing poverty facing indigenous children, we will ensure the crisis of socio-economic marginalization and wasted potential will continue," Wilson said.

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