OTTAWA, June 14, 2012 /CNW/ - A new report released today by the First Nations Information Governance Centre paints a dispiriting national picture of the housing deficits that exist for many First Nations communities.
"It's disconcerting to note that there has been little change on many key housing issues over the last five years", says Jane Gray, National Project Manager for the First Nations Regional Health Survey, or RHS. "In fact, some indicators have gotten worse. It's not just Attawapiskat or northern communities that have poor housing."
According to the findings, there has been a significant increase in the presence of mould and mildew within homes - now at a striking 51% of homes compared to 44% in 2002/03. Further, more than two-thirds (70.8%) of First Nations adults reported that their household was in need of some type of repair compared to one-quarter (25.7%) of the general Canadian population. Of those reporting their household needed repairs, 37.3% stated the needed repairs were major.
"These are critical issues, impoverished housing conditions have been shown to be linked with a variety of health indicators, such as increased rates of chronic disease" adds Ms. Gray.
Approximately one-quarter (23.4%) of First Nations adults reported living in over-crowded housing, defined as more than one person per habitable room, which represents a substantial increase from 2002/03 at 17.2%.
Many adults indicated that their household did not have basic safety equipment, such as working smoke detectors (22.6%), fire extinguishers (53.1%) and carbon monoxide detectors (78.1%).
When it comes to water quality, 35.8% of First Nations adults reported the main water supply in their homes to be unsafe for drinking year round.
Jane Gray says, "This is the unfortunate reality for many First Nations reserves across Canada."
Designed as a companion to the RHS, a community survey was conducted across 235 First Nations communities, in an attempt to complement the results from 2008/10 Regional Health Survey for Adults, Youth and Children.
Ms. Gray added, "Community level factors play an important role in better understanding individual health and well-being outcomes".
Results from the 2008/10 community survey report will be released in the near future. The provision of quality housing is a complex issue. The RHS process, through the collection of sound information, will play an active role in informing policy and programming, with the ultimate goal of improving housing conditions for First Nations living on-reserve and in northern First Nations communities.