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

Nearly 25,000 people cast ballots in Chilliwack

Turnout 10,000 votes higher than in 2014

Popove pledges to work hard as new mayor of Chilliwack

Ken Popove to take the helm from incumbent Sharon Gaetz

Chilliwack school board results reveal clear split

Incumbents Dan Coulter, Heather Maahs and Barry Neufeld join four new board members

Popove elected mayor in Chilliwack

Gaetz second, Waddington third; new faces on city council

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Fraser Valley man dead after head on crash in Okanagan

Accident occurred at about 7:35 a.m.

Newly-elected Lower Mainland mayor won’t drink his city’s tap water

White Rock’s Darryl Walker is concerned about its quality

Kennedy Stewart challenged with building bridges as mayor of Vancouver: expert

The former NDP MP, who ran as an Independent, will lead 10 councillors divided across four parties

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

Vees notch up another win

Undermanned Vees take down league-leading Chilliwack Chiefs

Most Read