The Chiefs of Ontario and the provincial government are partnering on a new initiative designed to strengthen economic development opportunities in Indigenous communities.
Over the next two years, the two parties will collaborate on creating a First Nations Economic Growth and Prosperity Table.
“Ensuring the full and equal participation of Indigenous peoples in the economy is a top priority for our government,” said Premier Doug Ford in a May 11 news release.
“We are committed to supporting Indigenous-led economic development, prosperity and wealth creation that respects the diversity of Indigenous communities and cultures.”
The goal, according to the government, is to “enable relationships with surrounding economies, industries and business partners and contribute to a greater understanding and cooperation between First Nation leaders and the government.”
"The establishment of the First Nations Economic Growth and Prosperity Table will build upon the positive and growing relationship we have with Premier Ford and his Cabinet,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald in the release.
“The table will create a space for First Nations’ meaningful participation in the post-pandemic economic recovery in Ontario by supporting our Indigenous economies so they can thrive and be successful on a local, regional, national and global level. In the long term, this will help us meet our mutual goal of creating healthy and vibrant communities.”
The Chiefs of Ontario secretariat represents the interests of 133 First Nations in Ontario.
According to provincial figures, the unemployment rate for Indigenous people aged 25-64 is 10 per cent, nearly twice the non-Indigenous average.
The median income is $33,218 compared to $42,564 for non-Indigenous adults in the same age group.
Overall, the Indigenous population has a higher proportion of people that are low income, as compared to the non-Indigenous population. Nearly 24% of the Indigenous population is low income, which is 10 per cent higher than the non-Indigenous population.