Census Data Supports Inuit Need for More Housing, Better Health Care, Inuit Specific Programs.
Inuktitut Language Remains Strong.
OTTAWA - Tuesday January 21, 2003 - National Inuit leaders say today’s Aboriginal peoples census data supports the need for more social housing in Inuit communities, better health care services, and programs and policies designed specifically for Inuit.
In the figures released today by Statistics Canada, the Inuit population rose from 40,220 in 1996 to 45,070 in 2001. A housing crisis identified in a year 2001 report, based on the 1996 census, indicated a need for 8,800 new social housing units for the 53 Inuit communities in Canada.
With an increase of 12.1% in our population over five years, without a corresponding increase in social housing construction, it’s clear the housing crisis still exists. The ITK Housing Report identified the priority need for housing among elders, youth, and young families. The 2001 figures indicate an increase in the population of Inuit elders, while Inuit youth under 14 make up 38% of the population.
“The Government of Canada has a fiduciary obligation to provide social housing in Inuit communities,” says Jose Kusugak, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. The increased Inuit population means an increase in the number of people per dwelling. There’s overcrowding in many homes, which affects the health of Inuit.
Youth figure prominently in today’s statistics. Across the Arctic youth make up 57% of the Inuit population, and have high rates of unemployment. The median age in Arctic communities is 20 years old, compared to the national average of 37. It means half the Inuit population is less than 20 years old.
There has been a significant increase in the population over 65, from 1,015 in 1996 to 1,405 in 2001. This impacts the need for increased health services such as home care, elder’s facilities, and support services for elders in communities. An increase in chronic diseases can be expected as the population ages.
“In our recent response to the Speech from the Throne we indicated that in terms of health and welfare Inuit are at the extreme negative ends of society,” says Jose Kusugak.” Today’s figures back up our statements, and also allows the federal government to distinguish the needs of the Inuit population of Canada, so that when we request Inuit specific policies and programs we have accurate statistics based on scientific analysis.
Aboriginal languages also figured strongly in today’s release. Statistics Canada is reporting that relative to other Aboriginal languages Inuktitut remains strong. “This is a bright spot in the data, despite a slight decline (less than 3%) in language ability since 1996. It demonstrates the strength of Inuktitut as mother tongue, specifically in the 0-14 age group,” says Jose Kusugak.
Mr. Kusugak also noted the high participation rate of the Inuit in the 2001 Census, adding that he eagerly awaits the results of the Aboriginal People’s Survey (APS), scheduled for release in September of this year. The APS contains 146 questions, and was conducted at the same time as the 2001 Census. It is a collaborative effort between Statistics Canada, Laval University, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Labrador Inuit Association, Makivik Corporation, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation.
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Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami