Indigenous Canadians, consisting of First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis, continue to live a lower quality of life than the rest of Canadians, as evidenced by persistent health disparities. They tend to suffer greater rates of psychological distress than non-Indigenous Canadians. Such disparities in prevalence of psychological distress, which are often associated with depression and suicide, is a dire issue in many countries with Indigenous populations, including Australia and the U.S. The objective of this research is to inform policy by examining factors expected to be related to the psychological health of Canada's Indigenous population focusing on the significance of economic insecurity. The association between economic insecurity and psychological wellbeing among Canada's Indigenous population is examined to determine the magnitude of the impact of economic insecurity relative to other factors. The measures of economic insecurity include employment status, degree of food insecurity and condition of housing. An IV ordered probit model is estimated using data from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey where psychological wellbeing is assessed with the ten-item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K-10).The K-10 distress scores, ranging from zero to 40 in the dataset, are re-grouped into 5 ordinal categories. The empirical results provide support for the hypothesis that economic insecurity plays a significant and relatively sizable role in explaining the determinants of psychological wellbeing of Canada's Indigenous peoples. They further imply that Indigenous Canadians with greater levels of economic insecurity are more likely to suffer from lower levels of psychological wellbeing with food insecurity having the largest impact followed by housing quality and employment status. Other variables, such as age, gender, marital status, children and location of residence, also significantly impact the psychological wellbeing of Indigenous Canadians. The results suggest that policy for psychological wellbeing needs to address basic physiological needs first before working toward higher level needs associated with self-esteem and self-actualization. The main policy recommendation is for government to prioritize their goals with a focus on allocating a sufficient amount of resources to make a difference.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.