New numbers show Indigenous people get paid less in the workforce

New numbers show Indigenous people get paid less in the workforce
CHEK

A new report by Statistics Canada shows that Indigenous people earn significantly less per hour than non-Indigenous people.

The data collected in 2022 shows that First Nations people made an average of $28.78 per hour, and MĂ©tis people made $30.38 per hour. These numbers were then compared to non-Indigenous people earning nine per cent more, totalling $32.58 an hour.

Leslie Varley, executive director of the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, is from the Killer Whale clan of the Nisga’a Nation. She has experienced a lack of equal pay in the workplace.

“It happens a lot, and I have certainly been in those kinds of positions where I was, and Indigenous women paid less than my counterpart who’s a non-Indigenous woman or man,” said Farley.

Farley told CHEK News it is not a surprise to see a gap in the numbers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers.

Although Indigenous people earned about nine per cent less than non-Indigenous people in 2022, the pay gap between Indigenous men and women ($3.03) was smaller than among non-Indigenous men and women ($4.69).

The centre helps Indigenous people with career, education and employment resources. Executive director Ron Rice is a true believer that self-education can help individual Indigenous workers close the gap on equal pay.

“I think investing some time early on with young people, starting in Grade 6 and 7 when they are really starting to form their study habits, to say if this is the job you want, if this is the education level you have to hit before you finish Grade 12 let alone going through post-secondary,” said Rice.

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(A graph showing the pay gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers. Photo Courtesy: Statistics Canada)

At Camosun College, a new program is aiming to give Indigenous women, who typically get paid $3 less an hour than Indigenous males, a head start into well-paying careers. The college launched a tuition-free 12-week program on engineering technology.

Camosun computer science chair Baryta Schaerer is hopeful this is a part of the change for equal pay.

“I’m hoping that with the skill sets that the students will gain that people will see that everybody is equal and it doesn’t matter where you come from. We’ve all learned the same skills, we all follow the same guidelines and policies, [so] we should all be seen the same,” said Schaerer.

Click here for the full report.

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