The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board says Canada’s GDP would get an annual boost of $27.7 billion if barriers were removed to ensure indigenous people can participate in the economy.
The group’s latest report, to be released Tuesday, says equal economic opportunity for indigenous peoples would help Canada address ongoing economic challenges caused by low productivity and demographic pressure from an aging population.
It also notes the productivity of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples would match that of their non-indigenous counterparts if they received the same level of education and training.
The report says an additional $8.5 billion in income could be earned every year by the indigenous workforce if education and training gaps are closed.
For example, it suggests B.C. could stand to benefit to the tune of $1.4 billion a year in additional income earned by more than 125,000 workers, while Ontario could bring in an additional $2 billion through more than 169,000 workers.
The board says the indigenous labour force is underutilized, despite the fact the indigenous population is young and growing fast.
Dawn Madahbee Leach, the board’s interim chair, says economic development can also assist in reconciliation efforts.
“I can tell you first-hand, when somebody is provided with a job, they are able to provide for their families with regards to basic needs like shelter and food and then they become a role model for their children,” she said.
“This report deals … with helping our people to help themselves through employment, through education and training.”