While premiers and territorial leaders meet in Saskatchewan today to discuss the well-being of Indigenous children, youth and families, a new report released today co-authored by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) says First Nations children experience the highest levels of poverty in Canada.

“Canada is not tracking First Nations poverty on-reserve so we did,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The findings of this report are shameful and underscore the urgent need to invest in First Nations children, families and communities. Our children face the worst social and economic conditions in the country. They deserve an opportunity to succeed. Canada has not been tracking poverty on-reserve and that’s one reason the situation is not improving. We need a combination of political will, action, cooperation among governments and sustainable investments in water, infrastructure, housing and education to help First Nations children succeed and get a fair start in life. It’s beneficial to all Canadians to close the gap in quality of life between First Nations and Canada.”

Advocates who work with Montreal’s homeless say the deaths of 12 people since December is related to the closing of a downtown shelter.

“Everything that we said was going to happen when we moved has happened,” said Open Door intervention worker John Tessier.

The Open Door was located near Cabot Square, a park in downtown Montreal and a gathering spot for the city’s homeless.

It was the city’s only shelter willing to accept clients who were intoxicated, as well as the only one to welcome pets.

The inquiry’s commissioners gathered testimony from more than 2,300 people, survivors of violence and family members of women who were murdered or went missing, across the country for two years. The “inescapable conclusion” is that Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ people have experienced genocide, the final report said.

One of the report’s “calls for justice,” or recommendations, is that Canada establish a guaranteed annual liveable income, sometimes called basic income or minimum income, for everyone in the country.

The Scott Moe government boasts that Saskatchewan’s a low-tax province. It shouldn’t. Taxes serve important objectives, and our leaders need to understand that.

On March 20, the Saskatchewan government tabled its 2019-20 provincial budget, projecting a balanced budget for the upcoming year. In many ways that’s quite remarkable, with Saskatchewan’s economy heavily dependent on the price of oil. But budgets are about choices, and a modest tax increase could have accomplished much.

Studies and statistics have consistently shown that suicide rates among Canada’s Indigenous peoples are two to three times higher than among non-Indigenous Canadians.

The reasons are complex, of course, but a new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concludes the quality and availability of foods plays a major role in the mental health of Indigenous people living off-reserve in the country, a finding that appears to confirm a study carried out in Atlantic Canada in 2017.

UNICEF’s 2017 Index of Child and Youth Well-being and Sustainability. A recent national study from Children First Canada also reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian children. Mental-health related hospitalization rates are increasing and approximately one in five Canadian kids continue to live in poverty.

The reality is more bleak when you consider First Nations children.

One in three Indigenous children live in poverty. This number rises to over 60% among children living on reserve. First Nations youth have suicide rates five to seven times higher than non-Indigenous youth – and Inuit youth have one of the highest rates in the world, 11 times higher than the national average.