The Impact of Saskatchewans Growing Aboriginal Community
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Saskatchewan and Aboriginal Peoples in the 21st Century: Social Economic and Political Changes and Challenges examines the changing population demographics of Saskatchewan and the impact of Aboriginal businesses in the provincial economy. In 1996 the FSIN commissioned a team of experts at the College of Commerce, University of Saskatchewan to utilized the Provincial Economic Model of Saskatchewan (PREMOS) to produce a fifty year forecast. The purpose of the fifty year forecast was to provide timely analysis to inform decision makers. The forecasts in the study are not statements of what is anticipated to happen, but they are predictions based on no changes in the economic situation for Aboriginal peoples. Here are some of their findings;
- Aboriginal population of Saskatchewan is to increase threefold within the next half-century. It is projected that the Aboriginal population in Saskatchewan will increase from 135,000 people in 1995 to 434,000 people in 2045. By the year 2045, Aboriginal people will make up approximately 1/3 or 32.5% of Saskatchewan's population compared with 1/10 or 13.3% in 1995.
- The total population of 15 to 24 years old is projected to decrease 6% by the year 2011, while the corresponding Aboriginal cohort will increase by 71 %. In the 0 - 24 age group, Aboriginal people are expected to comprise 38% of the population by 2011.
- Over the next two decades, the aboriginal 25-34 age group is projected to increase by 38% from 21,700 to 30,000 while the non-aboriginal university age population will experience a substantial decline. They are projected to lose 66,700 individuals, just over 25%, by the year 2011.
- As early as 2001, one quarter (25%) of all labour force entrants and one third (33%) of all new school entrants will be Aboriginal with the vast majority being First Nation.
EMPLOYMENT INCOME AND PERSONAL INCOME:
- Status Quo scenarios predict that the Aboriginal employment rate of 31% in 1995 will drop to 19% by 2015 and drop further to 11 % by 2045.
- The scenario shows an Aboriginal population that is growing rapidly while employment for Aboriginal people continues to grow at the current rate, which is less than the population growth.
- Aboriginal employment must increase from the current level of 5.4% to 14.6% during the forecast just to keep the problem from getting worst. In order to solve the problem and close the employment gap to the provincial level, the proportion must increase from 5.4% to 23%. In other words, the proportion of jobs held by Aboriginal people must more than quadruple during the next fifty years.
- While it is expected that Aboriginal employment income will grow at the same rate as non-Aboriginal employment income, average Aboriginal real personal income is expected to decline over the fifty year forecast period in the status quo scenario.
- The reason for the decline in personal income is the decreasing Aboriginal employment rate. As the employment rate falls, the proportion of Aboriginal people who are unemployed increases, where the unemployed are receiving a much lower income. This has the effect of reducing the average personal income of Aboriginal people.
- Given that Aboriginal people on the average receive about 75% of their income from employment, the economic impact of the status quo is devastating for Aboriginal people and Aboriginal communities. The net effect for Aboriginal people is ever decreasing average personal income and more reliance on governments for assistance. This economic impact is of significant importance to the province of Saskatchewan.
- The problem of the education gap is compounded by the fact that the Aboriginal population is growing at a significant rate. Consequently, enrolments in educational programs must increase at a rate to match the emerging population rate and an additional increase is required to close the education gap. In order to close the Aboriginal economic gap, the education gap will have to be closed. Training and education initiatives must be part of economic development strategies for Aboriginal communities.
ABORIGINAL BUSINESS AND TREATY LAND ENTITLEMENT SURVEY:
- In addition to revealing the changing population demographics, the study was intended to examine what kind of political impact the increases in population could mean in federal and provincial elections. Although it is unlikely the Aboriginal population could solely determine the result of an election their numbers could potentially increase to a point where they make up 15% to 20% of the electorate in certain constituencies.
- Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) will have a $516 million impact on the economy of Saskatchewan over the next few years. TLE agreements increased funds for First Nations to purchase lands and engage in major economic activities in the province of Saskatchewan.
- The distribution of on-reserves and off reserve businesses are relatively even. In total 45.3% are located on reserve, and the other 54.7% were located off reserve.
- The survey indicates that 38.7% of Aboriginal businesses are in the service industry and 24.5% are in the whole-
The Impact of Saskatchewans Growing Aboriginal Community
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sale/retail trade industry. The third largest is 9.6% in the construction industry.
CONCLUSION - FOUR FSIN CHALLENGES:
- In many of these Aboriginal owned businesses 21% of management positions and 23% of non-management position are staffed by non-Aboriginal people. The study also found that 32% of Aboriginal businesses reported having a non-aboriginal partner.
1. Developing First Nations Business, Employment and Education Strategies: Corporate Sector
2. Developing First Nations Business, Employment and Education Strategies: Government Partners
3. Developing First Nations Employment and Education Strategies: Organized Labour
4. Improving Training and Education Opportunities for First Nations
The current socio-economic conditions within First Nations' communities will not be adequate to support their future or Saskatchewan's. First Nations' must become part of the solution and must be involved in finding the means to continue to develop, contribute and participate in all aspect of Saskatchewan's economy and society. Policies need to be implemented so that the forecasts presented in this study do not happen.
Aboriginal leaders want to ensure that all partners in Saskatchewan's public and private sectors, have accurate and detailed data about the Aboriginal population so we can plan together our common future.
Aboriginal leaders see the future prosperity and health of the Aboriginal community as intertwined with the future of all Saskatchewan citizens. Aboriginal leaders want to plan for a stronger Saskatchewan economy, which will improve the well being of all citizens.