Inuit households more likely to have low income, StatsCan finds

Indigenous people living on-reserve and Inuit are more likely to have low incomes than other Canadians, a Statistics Canada report suggests. 

A study based on the 2016 census examined household incomes in First Nations communities and across the North. The study considered low income to mean earning less than half the median household income for Canada.

For a four-person family, the low-income threshold on that basis is $44,080. For a two-person family, it’s $31,169. The report did not take into account the cost of living, which is substantially higher in the North.


Nationwide, First Nations people on-reserve had a low-income rate of 44 percent – the highest rate in the study – compared to a national rate of 14.4 percent.  

The report found a large gap in incomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living in the territories and Inuit Nunangat. In the territories, 25 percent of Inuit and 21.2 percent of First Nations people lived in low-income households compared to 5.6 percent of non-Indigenous people.

A table from a Statistics Canada report shows low income rates by Indigenous identity.

The report also showed that fewer people in the Northwest Territories and Yukon lived in low-income households than in many provinces.

The NWT’s overall low-income rate was 11.7 percent while the Yukon’s was 10.4 percent. The exception was the Inuvialuit region, where the low-income rate rose to 19.1 percent. The report did not otherwise break down regions of the Northwest Territories, though it noted that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit households were more likely to fall beneath the low-income threshold outside urban areas.

A Statistics Canada graph shows low-income rates across Canadian regions.

The report also examined income differences based on education and household type.


In Inuit Nunangat, the low-income rate for Inuit with a university degree or higher was just 2.8 percent, falling to 1.9 percent for non-Indigenous people with the same level of education.

Single-person households and lone-parent families were more likely to occupy low-income households than couples across Canada, with the disparity greatest among people living on-reserve.

Mothers in lone-parent families were more likely to be on a low income than single fathers. In the territories, for example, the low-income rate for single mothers was 27.3 percent compared to 19.1 percent for single fathers.