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New report sheds light on housing issues, wage gaps, employment numbers in Black, African Nova Scotian communities

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A "first-of-its-kind" report released Wednesday is presenting statistical data on Black communities in Nova Scotia.

The report focused on six key areas, including:

  • population
  • labour
  • income
  • education
  • housing
  • well-being

The African Nova Scotian Prosperity and Well-being Index report represents a crucial step towards understanding and addressing economic disparities Black and African Nova Scotian communities face.

Council members with the Road to Economic Prosperity says the data collected reflects the experience of African Nova Scotians, including historical challenges like anti-Black racism.

Housing statistics

According to the report, compared to the overall Nova Scotian population, the Black Nova Scotian community has higher shares of households living in unaffordable housing, inadequate housing that doesn't fit the number of people living in them, and unsuitable housing, meaning homes that require "major repairs."

While 7.3 per cent of Nova Scotian households live in core housing need, the share almost doubles to 13.2 per cent for Black Nova Scotians.

The report found that less than half of Black households in Nova Scotia -- 45.8 per cent -- owned their own homes.

Wage gap statistics

On average, the index report found a Black Nova Scotian will earn only 85 cents in income for every dollar earned by a non-visible minority in the province.

The average Black Nova Scotian with a bachelor's degree or higher made only 79.2 per cent of the income of the average Nova Scotian with the same education levels in 2020, according to the report's findings.

Employment statistics

The age-adjusted unemployment rate for Black Nova Scotians remains above the figure for the overall population: 4.7 per cent higher in 2016, and 1.3 per cent higher in 2021, according to the report.

Nova Scotia's Black population

Census data included in the index also shows that between 2016 and 2021, the Black population in Nova Scotia grew more quickly than Nova Scotia's population overall, a trend that was led by international migration, primarily from Nigeria.

In all, 28,220 Nova Scotians self-identified as Black, representing three per cent of the provincial population. The fastest-growing groups were Black men and women between the ages of 20 and 44.

The report makes a 14 recommendations, including that the province's Black community expand its data sources by co-operating with universities, community groups and governments.

Another recommendation calls on all orders of government to recognize descendants of Nova Scotia's historic 52 Black communities as a "distinct people."

Although the information gathered in the report may not come as a surprise to members of the Black community, the council says it's important to share the findings with other community political leaders to help push for change.

“When you review the data, the circumstances for Black Nova Scotians is not ideal. Education, we are showing improvements around education but we are still very much over-represented in core housing needs and over-represented in those needing adequate housing. I would just say it doesn’t paint a pretty picture but it does show the reality," said Shaekara Grant, co-chair of Road to Economic Prosperity youth council.

The group hopes to continue their research and present data every three years.

“The index is a measuring tool. You know the old adages, 'What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get changed.' So, this is a tool that we are hoping advocacy groups and community groups can use in those areas, which they are working to bring about some positive change," said Irvine Carvery, co-chair of Road to Economic Prosperity advisory council.

The council says they are working with Statistics Canada to come up with better ways to gather data that reflect the African Nova Scotian experience in their census work.

The Road to Economic Prosperity Plan is a five-year economic development strategy developed and owned by the African Nova Scotian community to address systemic issues and improve economic and quality of life outcomes for African Nova Scotians.

The plan is led by leaders from African Nova Scotian communities and implemented in collaboration with public, private, post-secondary and community partners.

More statistics from the African Nova Scotian Prosperity and Well-being Index report can be found online.

With files from The Canadian Press

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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