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.

Just Posted

Castlegar bridge designed by architect of collapsed Italian bridge

Riccardo Morandi designed the Kinnaird Bridge, which is part of Highway 3.

Smoky skies force flight cancellations

Air quality in West Kootenay also a health concern

Columbia River Treaty negotiators met in Nelson this week

Next session is in Portland in October

UPDATE: Fire forces closures and delays on Highway 3 at Kootenay Pass

Motorists should detour using Kootenay Lake ferry

Evacuation alert issued for City of Kimberley

Three hours after an evacuation order was issued for the St. Mary Valley, an evacuation alert was issued for the nearby community of Kimberley.

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urgest rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at Victoria’s CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

RCMP nab prolific car thief after month-long, B.C.-wide search

A province-wide warrant was issued for Brian Robert Stephan in June for a litany of offences

Most Read