Impacts on Indigenous Peoples

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Release date: October 20, 2020

Key messages:

Geographic isolation and high prevalence of pre-existing health conditions in the Indigenous population increases vulnerability

Many Indigenous people live in rural and remote communities where it is difficult to access medical care.

Pre-existing health conditions in the Indigenous population increase risk of COVID-19 complications.

Proportion of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit aged 50 years and over with selected pre-existing health conditions, 2017

Description - Proportion of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit, aged 50 years and older, with selected pre-existing health conditions, by age group, 2017
Proportion of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit, aged 50 years and older, with selected pre-existing health conditions, by age group, 2017
  High blood pressure Diabetes Chronic bronchitis, emphysema or COPDFootnote 1 Heart disease
First NationsFootnote 2 36 20 10 14
Métis 36 18 11 12
Inuit 28 12 8 11
Footnote 1

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

First Nations people living off reserve.

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Source: Aboriginal Peoples Survey

Indigenous people report worsening mental health since the start of COVID-19, including increases in anxiety and stress

Mental health impacts since the start of the pandemic, Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants by gender, April 24 to May 11, 2020

Description - Percentage reporting mental health impacts since the start of the pandemic, Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants by gender, April 24 to May 11, 2020
Percentage reporting mental health impacts since the start of the pandemic, Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants by gender, April 24 to May 11, 2020
  Reporting days quite a bit stressful/extremely stressful Reporting mental heath as somewhat worse/much worse since physical distancing began Reporting symptoms of moderate or severe generalized anxiety disorder
Women Men Women Men Women Men
Indigenous participants 46 32 64 54 48 31
Non-Indigenous participants 30 24 57 47 29 21

Crowdsourced data indicate that Indigenous people harder hit by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

While relative job losses have been similar, financial impacts are more sharply felt by Indigenous people.

Self-reported employment and financial impact of COVID-19, May 26 to June 8, 2020

Description - Self-reported employment and financial impact of COVID-19, May 26 to June 8, 2020
Self-reported employment and financial impact of COVID-19, May 26 to June 8, 2020
Indigenous participants Non-Indigenous participants
All Women Men All Women Men
Experienced job loss or reduced work hours among participants employed before COVID-19 37 38 36 35 37 33
Reported a strong or moderate impact of COVID-19 on ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs 36 36 36 25 25 24
Source: Statistics Canada, Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians - Trust in Others

Economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic likely having a larger impact on Indigenous people because of greater pre-existing vulnerabilities

Families with few financial assets face significant income vulnerability.

Percentage living below the poverty line (market basket measure) in urban areas, Canada (excluding the territories), 2016

Description - Percentage living below the poverty line (market basket measure) in urban areas, Canada (excluding the territories), 2016
Percentage living below the poverty line (market basket measure) in urban areas, Canada (excluding the territories), 2016
  Percent
Total Indigenous population 24
First Nations people 29.6
Métis 17.8
Inuit 19.3
Non-Indigenous population 13.3

Concerns about safety heightened among Indigenous participants

50% of Indigenous participants compared to 62% of non-Indigenous participants expressed a high level of trust in the federal government to make good decisions about when and how to reopen businesses and public spaces.

(Source: Economic impact of COVID-19 among Indigenous people)

When participants were asked about impacts of COVID-19:

Percentage reporting some level of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on violence in their home, April 24 to May 11, 2020

Description - Percentage reporting some level of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on violence in the home, April 24 to May 11, 2020
Percentage reporting some level of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on violence in the home, April 24 to May 11, 2020
Indigenous participants Non-Indigenous participants
All Women Men All Women Men
Percentage reporting some level of concern about the impact of COVID-19 on violence in the home 11 13 9 5 5 4
Source: Statistics Canada, Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians - Your Mental Health.

Looking forward

Change in employment counts relative to February 2020, Indigenous and non-Indigenous population aged 15 and older, Excluding those residing on reserve or in Territories, April - July 2020

Description - Change in employment counts relative to February 2020, Indigenous and non-Indigenous population aged 15 and older, Excluding those residing on reserve or in Territories
Change in employment counts relative to February 2020, Indigenous and non-Indigenous population aged 15 and older, Excluding those residing on reserve or in Territories
  Indigenous people Non-Indigenous people
April -16.2% -15.3%
May -10.6% -12.1%
June -6.9% -6.1%
July -6.9% -4.5%
August -8.6% -3.3%
Note: Excludes those residing in the territories as well as those residing on First Nation reserve land.

Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey, 2020

Indigenous people are overrepresented among the most vulnerable:

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