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Ontario

Did you know...

  • Nearly one in five Aboriginal people in Canada live in Ontario. In 2001, of all of the provinces and territories, Ontario had the largest Aboriginal population at 188,315 people.
  • While Ontario had the largest Aboriginal population, the Aboriginal population made up only 1.7% of the total provincial population.
  • The Aboriginal population in Ontario is growing rapidly. From 1996 to 2001, it grew by 33%, compared to a 6% growth in the total population of Ontario.
  • The majority of Aboriginal people in Ontario live off reserve (78%).
  • Among the 131,560 North American Indian people, 70% live off reserve and 30% live on reserve. About 56% of North American Indian people live in urban areas, with only 13% living in rural non-reserve communities.
  • The vast majority of the 48,340 Métis people in Ontario live in urban settings; 38% live in census metropolitan areas and 33% in other urban areas. About 29% live in rural areas.
  • There is a small Inuit population in Ontario (1,375 people), the majority of whom (70%) live in census metropolitan areas; 17% live in other urban areas and 12% live in rural areas.

Off-reserve Aboriginal population

The remainder of this report will focus on the off-reserve Aboriginal identity population.

Demographics
Education
Information technology
Employment
Mobility and housing
Health
Language

Demographics

Young, diverse and growing

The Aboriginal population living off reserve is relatively young. In 2001, 45% of Aboriginal people were under the age of 25. Only 4% were 65 years and over, compared to 12% of the non-Aboriginal population. The age distribution of the North American Indian, the Métis and the Inuit populations is similar to that of the total Aboriginal population.

Chart 1. Age distribution, Aboriginal identity groups, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 1. Age distribution, Aboriginal identity groups, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census

The majority of the off-reserve Aboriginal population were North American Indian (62%), about one-third were Métis and 1% was Inuit. The remaining 5% either identified with more than one Aboriginal group, or did not identify with an Aboriginal group but reported having registered Indian status and/or band membership.

Chart 2. Population reporting an Aboriginal identity, by Aboriginal group, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 2. Population reporting an Aboriginal identity, by Aboriginal group, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census

In 2001, almost half (47%) of the off-reserve Aboriginal population in Ontario were living in large urban centres with populations of at least 100,000 people. These large urban centres are referred to as census metropolitan areas (CMAs).

Toronto was the CMA with the largest Aboriginal population at 20,305, although Aboriginal people represented only 0.4% of the total population living there.

Table 1. Population reporting Aboriginal identity, Ontario, selected Census Metropolitan Areas, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Table 1. Population reporting Aboriginal identity, Ontario, selected Census Metropolitan Areas, 2001 Census

There are other cities and towns in Ontario with high proportions of Aboriginal people. In Sioux Lookout, for example, almost one in four people (24%) are Aboriginal.

Table 2. Population reporting Aboriginal identity, Ontario, selected Municipalities with high percentages of Aboriginal people, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Table 2. Population reporting Aboriginal identity, Ontario, selected Municipalities with high percentages of Aboriginal people, 2001 Census

Text box 1. When looking at the population counts of Aboriginal people living in cities and towns, it is important to remember that many people move between communities – for example, someone might move from a reserve community to a large city and back again within the same year. The census counts people where they are living on one particular day (Census Day).

Education

Improving educational profile

The educational profile of the off-reserve Aboriginal population is improving. The proportion of Aboriginal people aged 25 and over with post-secondary qualifications increased from 37% in 1996 to 42% in 2001.

When it comes to post-secondary schooling, many Aboriginal people pursue college and trades certification. Among those 25 years and over, 32% of the North American Indian population, and 35% of the Métis population, had college or trades certificates and diplomas.

Table 3. Highest level of schooling, Adults 25 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Table 3. Highest level of schooling, Adults 25 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census

Many Aboriginal adults have not completed high school. The 2001 APS showed the most common reasons for leaving high school were 'wanted to work' or 'had to work'.

Chart 3. Reasons for not finishing high school, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Aboriginal peoples survey. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 3. Reasons for not finishing high school, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 APS

Men and women had different reasons for not completing high school. For young Aboriginal men aged 15 to 34, the most commonly reported reason was 'bored with school'. 'Pregnancy/taking care of children' topped the reasons provided by young Aboriginal women in the same age group.

Aboriginal people are more likely to return to school at later ages to complete their education. In 2001, one in ten Aboriginal people over the age of 25 was attending school compared to 7% of their non-Aboriginal counterparts. Of the Aboriginal groups, 11% of North American Indian adults (25 years and over) were enrolled in a school, compared to 10% of Inuit adults and 8% of Métis adults.

About 1 in 10 adults had an Aboriginal teacher or teachers' aide

About one in ten (11%) Aboriginal people 15 years and over had an Aboriginal teacher or teachers' aide while at elementary or high school.

Half of off-reserve Aboriginal children aged 6 to 14 had attended an early childhood development or preschool program when they were younger. Of those who had attended an early childhood development or preschool program, about 8%E had attended a program specifically designed for Aboriginal children.

Information technology

High levels of IT usage

In 2001, more than three-quarters (77%) of the off-reserve Aboriginal adult population reported that they had used a computer in the past 12 months. During the same period, over two-thirds (68%) of the Aboriginal adult population had utilised the Internet.

Employment

Unemployment remains high

Overall, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, experience much higher unemployment rates than the non-Aboriginal population. In 2001, 13% of the off-reserve Aboriginal population was unemployed, compared to 6% of the non-Aboriginal population.

Among the three Aboriginal groups living off reserve, Inuit have the highest unemployment rate at 16%, followed by North American Indians at 14% and Métis at 12%.

Chart 4. Unemployment rate, Adults 15 years and over and youth aged 15 to 24 years, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 4. Unemployment rate, Adults 15 years and over and youth aged 15 to 24 years, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census

The unemployment rate was particularly high among Aboriginal youth aged 15 to 24 living off reserve at 23%, compared to 13% among non-Aboriginal youth.

Mobility and housing

Highly mobile population

The off-reserve Aboriginal population is highly mobile – from 1996 to 2001, over half (55%) of Aboriginal people had moved at least once . The 2001 APS showed most people moved to the community where they currently live because of family reasons.

Chart 5. Reasons for moving to current city, town or community, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Aboriginal peoples survey. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 5. Reasons for moving to current city, town or community, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 APS

While all Aboriginal groups were highly mobile, levels did vary. From 1996 to 2001 71% of Inuit, 58% of North American Indians and 51% of Métis had moved at least once.

Majority own or are purchasing their home

Whether one owns or rents their home is an important factor when examining housing needs. Over half (54%) of Aboriginal households owned their home in 2001, below the 69% of non-Aboriginal households that are owners.1 Among the Aboriginal groups, Métis households were the most likely to own their homes (63%), compared to half of North American Indian households (50%) and 43% of Inuit households.

The 2001 Census found approximately 17% of off-reserve Aboriginal households in Ontario required major repairs, 33% required minor repairs and 50% required regular maintenance only.

Chart 6. Percentage of Aboriginal homes requiring repairs, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 6. Percentage of Aboriginal homes requiring repairs, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Census

More than 1 in 8 do not consider water safe for drinking

A safe source of drinking water is fundamental to good health, in 2001 around one in eight (13%) Aboriginal people living off reserve reported that the water available to their homes was not safe for drinking, and 15% reported that there were times of the year when their water is contaminated.

In 2001, approximately 8% of the off-reserve Aboriginal population lived in overcrowded homes.2 Similar levels of overcrowding were found among Ontario's non-Aboriginal population (9%). Levels of overcrowding differed among the Aboriginal groups - 16% of Inuit live in crowded homes, compared to 9% of North American Indians and 6% of Métis.

1 in 5 Aboriginal households in core housing need

The incidence of core housing need among Aboriginal households declined between 1996 and 2001. In 1996, around 30% of off-reserve Aboriginal households in Ontario were in core housing need. By 2001, this had dropped to just more than one in five (22%) off-reserve Aboriginal households in core housing need.3 According to results from the 2001 Census, approximately 24% of North American Indian households were in core housing need, as were 19% of Métis households and 22% of Inuit households.

Health

Majority report very good or excellent health

In 2001, the majority of the off-reserve Aboriginal population aged 15 or older – 56% – reported excellent or very good health. About 20% reported fair or poor health – the tendency to do so increased with age. The North American Indian population and the Métis population reported similar levels of health status as the total Aboriginal population.4

Chart 7. Percentage reporting excellent or very good health status, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, by age groups, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Aboriginal peoples survey. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 7. Percentage reporting excellent or very good health status, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, by age groups, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 APS


Chart 8. Percentage reporting fair or poor health status, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Aboriginal peoples survey. Opens a new browser window.

Chart 8. Percentage reporting fair or poor health status, Aboriginal adults 15 years and over, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 APS

The majority of parents of Aboriginal children living in off-reserve areas in Ontario reported that their children's health was excellent or very good – 82% did so. Only 4%E reported that their children's health was fair or poor. The remaining 14% reported 'good' health for their children.

Eating breakfast has many benefits for children, including providing energy for the morning's activities, helping them to get ready to learn and maintaining a healthy body weight. In 2001, 90% of children aged 6 to 14 ate breakfast 5 to 7 days a week.

Arthritis or rheumatism affects 1 in 4 Aboriginal adults

The majority of Aboriginal adults (57%) have been diagnosed with at least one long-term health condition. Arthritis or rheumatism was the most commonly reported chronic condition, affecting more than one in four Aboriginal people over the age of 15.

More than one in ten (11%) North American Indians 15 years and over, living in off-reserve areas, have been diagnosed with diabetes. This was the highest rate for North American Indians among all provinces and territories. This is compared to 2.9% of the total Canadian population 15 years and over, who have been diagnosed with diabetes (age standardised). Evidence suggests that rates of diabetes for North American Indians are even higher on reserve.5

Table 4. Percentage of Aboriginal adults, 15 years and over, diagnosed with selected chronic conditions, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Aboriginal peoples survey. Opens a new browser window.

Table 4. Percentage of Aboriginal adults, 15 years and over, diagnosed with selected chronic conditions, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 APS

Half of Aboriginal children under 15 years of age had been diagnosed with a long-term health condition. In 2001, about one in five Aboriginal children were reported to have allergies.

Table 5. Percentage of Aboriginal children, under 15 years of age, with selected chronic conditions, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 Aboriginal peoples survey. Opens a new browser window.

Table 5. Percentage of Aboriginal children, under 15 years of age, with selected chronic conditions, Ontario, Off reserve, 2001 APS

The majority (76%) of the Aboriginal adult population reported seeing or talking on the telephone with a doctor about their physical, emotional or mental health in the previous year. About 6% had contacted a traditional healer. Around two-thirds (65%) of Aboriginal children had been in contact with a doctor, and 31% had been in contact with a pediatrician.

Language

Aboriginal languages a priority for many Aboriginal people

The 2001 APS found that many Aboriginal people consider Aboriginal languages to be an important priority — 58% of Aboriginal adults living off reserve reported that learning, relearning or maintaining their Aboriginal language was'somewhat important' or 'very important'.

Approximately, 61% of the North American Indian adult population thought that learning, relearning or maintaining their Aboriginal language was'somewhat important' or 'very important' compared to 48% of the Métis adult population.6

The majority (56%) of Aboriginal youth aged 15 to 24 also thought it was'somewhat important' or 'very important' to learn, relearn or maintain their Aboriginal language.

English is the language spoken most often at home for the majority of Ontarians, including Aboriginal people. About 88% of Aboriginal people living in off-reserve areas reported speaking only English at home.

About 16% of the off-reserve Aboriginal population can speak or understand an Aboriginal language, even if it is with effort or a few words. About 44% of those who said that they could understand an Aboriginal language reported that they could do so 'very well' or 'relatively well'.


Footnotes

1. For Aboriginal family households, any household in which at least one spouse, common-law partner or a lone parent identifies as North American Indian (Status or Non-Status), Métis, or Inuit is counted accordingly. For Aboriginal non-family households, any household in which at least half the members identify as North American Indian (Status, or Non-Status), Métis, or Inuit is counted accordingly. In cases where two or more identity groups are represented in the same household, the household will be counted in both groups. For example, a household with one Métis and one Inuit spouse will be counted as both a Métis and as an Inuit household. Source: CMHC, 2001 Census Housing Series Issue 6: Aboriginal Households. August 2004.

2. For the purpose of this analysis, crowding is defined as 1.0 or more people per room.

3. A household is said to be in core housing need if its housing falls below at least one of the adequacy, suitability, or affordability standards, and it would have to spend 30% or more of its before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three standards). Source: CMHC, 2001 Census Housing Series Issue 6: Aboriginal Households. August 2004.

4. Data on health status is not available for Inuit in Ontario.

5. Health Canada. 2000. Diabetes among Aboriginal (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) People in Canada: The Evidence. Ottawa: Health Canada.

6. Data on the importance of keeping, learning or relearning an Aboriginal language is not available for the Inuit population in Ontario.


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