Composition of Income

Figure 51 : Family Status and Income

Earlier in this section, the role of government programs in after-tax household income was described. Figure 51 illustrates the composition of income for First Nations and non-Aboriginal populations showing that government transfers account for a higher portion of after-tax income for Canadians (10.9 per cent) than Albertans (seven per cent). It also shows that government transfers account for a larger portion of First Nations income, 18.6 per cent in Alberta and 21.8 per cent in Canada when compared with the non-Aboriginal populations.

One component of government transfers to individuals is the income support provided by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to First Nations living on-reserve. Figure 52 shows that the percentage of First Nations relying upon income support decreased in the late 1990s but has remained fairly stable since the beginning of this century, hovering around the 40 per cent mark.

Figure 52: Income Support Dependency First Nations in Alberta (1997 - 2008)

Income levels are lower for First Nations than for other Albertans and Canadians. The disparity may be partially explained by lower educational attainment and literacy in the First Nations population.

Income support dependency rates fluctuate widely within the province. Figure 53 provides the varying levels of income support dependency rates in each of the Treaty areas. The income support dependency rate is highly cyclical in many communities and when reviewing data for each community over a ten-year period many of them experienced significant variations.

Figure 53 is colour-coded by Treaty area and shows that in Alberta the highest rate of income support dependency can be found in five communities within Treaty 6, while some of the more remote communities within Treaty 8 have some of the lowest income support dependency rates on-reserve. This demonstrates that remoteness may not explain economic disparities experienced by First Nations communities in Alberta. In earlier sections, information was provided linking health and income, however, it does leave unanswered many questions related to health and well-being of communities and the impact of higher income support dependency rates.