Percentage of Indigenous workers at GNWT remains stagnant, still garners diversity awards

N.W.T. Legislative Assembly reconvenes with progress on legislation and land claims as priorities

Despite years of outreach, the percentage of Indigenous workers with the Government of the Northwest Territories has yet to match the population, according to employment numbers from the territory.  

In 2011, 1,529 Indigenous people worked for the territorial government, making up 32 per cent of the workforce. In 2016, though the number had increased to 1,628, their share of the workforce declined slightly, to 31 per cent.

That includes all government departments, divisional education councils, the Tlicho Community Services Agency, the health and social services authority, and agencies such as Aurora College, the housing corporation and the investment corporation.

Statistics Canada reports that 52 per cent of the territory's population is Indigenous. The national statistics agency also noted in January that there is a gap in employment rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous residents in the territory of 30 percentage points. 

Diversity awards

Last week, for the fifth consecutive year, the territorial government ranked as Canada's 100 Best Diversity Employers — a list co-published annually by The Globe and Mail and communications organization MediaCorp Canada Inc.

MediaCorp editors determine the winners by reviewing diversity initiatives at employers that applied for the Canada's Top 100 Employers project.  

This year, the GNWT's Aboriginal Employees Advisory Committee, which is designed to attract Indigenous employees, was cited as a "key reason" for the award. 

It also cited the government's Diversity and Inclusion unit, which was established in 2015 to support initiatives which promote an inclusive workplace.

In a statement, Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod said the award shows the progress the government has made and "motivates us to do more in the future to ensure that the public service is representative of the people it serves."  

In the last five years, the government has added an additional 500 employees, with 99 identifying as Indigenous, according to its data.  

Of those 99 new employees, nearly half — 42 — were hired in 2016.