The governor of the Bank of Canada says the central bank must do more to create meaningful economic opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
In brief remarks Monday to a virtual event on Indigenous economies, Tiff Macklem said the country can’t change some of the historical mistreatment of Indigenous people, but it can try to correct some of the consequences.
“As Canada’s central bank, we play an important role in creating the conditions for opportunity for Canadians, and this must include meaningful opportunities for Indigenous Peoples within Canada,” Macklem said
“So taking concrete steps towards economic reconciliation is our responsibility too, and it’s incumbent upon us to take the time to do this well.”
Macklem said the Bank of Canada is mandated to promote the economic and financial welfare of everyone in Canada, meaning the central bank can play a key role in fostering economic reconciliation with Indigenous people.
He pointed to labour markets and access to capital as being among the economic issues facing Indigenous people.
Macklem said the central bank plans to work with Indigenous groups to set out what it can do to help.
He said the bank will look to existing and new partners to guide it toward a common understanding of what its role should be going forward.
The pandemic has had a disproportionate economic impact on Indigenous people.
A report earlier this month from Statistics Canada noted that over the first 18 months of the pandemic, ending this past August, employment recovery for Indigenous people had generally been slower than among the non-Indigenous population. More recently, employment rates for Indigenous people returned roughly to where they were two years ago.
The event Monday was part of work the Bank of Canada has undertaken alongside central banks in New Zealand and Australia and Indigenous groups to discuss and raise awareness of Indigenous economic and financial issues.
It is also tied to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which included calls to action for the country’s business community to address systemic barriers to Indigenous economic activity.