CURTIS LINDSAY, Office of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs
The Ontario government is supporting the creation of a First Nations Economic Growth and Prosperity Table (Prosperity Table) to help support economic advancement and well-being of Indigenous communities.
The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) secretariat coordinates a political forum for collective decision-making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nations within Ontario.
Socio-economic barriers faced by Indigenous peoples in Ontario are significant and unique. The unemployment rate for Indigenous people aged 25-64 is 10 percent, 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 percent of the Indigenous population is low income, which is 10 percent higher than the non-Indigenous population.
“Ensuring the full and equal participation of Indigenous peoples in the economy is a top priority for our government,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are committed to supporting Indigenous-led economic development, prosperity and wealth creation that respects the diversity of Indigenous communities and cultures.”
Over the next two years, the province will partner with the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) to establish the Prosperity Table. The Table will enable relationships with surrounding economies, industries and business partners and contribute to a greater understanding and cooperation between First Nation leaders and the government. It will also complement other economic development work being undertaken by the province.
“The Prosperity Table creates a space for meaningful dialogue and collaboration between Ontario and First Nation Leaders, acknowledging that First Nation leaders are best positioned to lead discussions and leverage economic opportunities for their communities,” explained Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “That is why Premier Ford and I are proud to establish this Table with the Chiefs of Ontario, as we work together to support community-led economic development and long-term prosperity.”
The COO will use the Prosperity Table to identify opportunities and initiatives that will support post-pandemic economic recovery and create lasting economic prosperity within Indigenous communities. The recommendations from the Prosperity Table will help inform discussions and establish partnerships between First Nation communities and local industry, businesses and municipalities.
“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,” stated Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “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.”