Statistics Canada data compiled in a presentation by an organization led by African Nova Scotians show socioeconomic disparities between Black people and other visible minorities compared to white people in Halifax, and across Nova Scotia and Canada.

The African Nova Scotian Road to Economic Prosperity Plan (REPP) has been sharing the data with Black Nova Scotians through a series of presentations at community meetings.

REPP, which is a five-year economic strategy developed and led by African Nova Scotians, hosted its latest presentation in Cherry Brook. The group shared nearly two dozen infographics that detail the information members of REPP compiled through Statistics Canada.

“I see it as economics, and I think that’s probably because that’s my discipline, but I think everything is about economics,” said Carolann Wright, one of the members of REPP who helped collect the data.

“I don’t think it’s about your personal relationships with other folks, with white folks or anything. It’s about economics, and I’ve always felt that way.”

An infographic titled Core Housing Need that should the population of Black Nova Scotians in core housing need for 2021. The blue bars indicate the need among the Black population, while orange bars on the graph represent non-minority populations. For Canada, Nova Scotia, and Halifax, the blue bars are much taller than the orange bars, showing the need is greater for Black populations.
Credit: Carolann Wright leads a presentation by the African Nova Scotian Road to Economic Prosperity Plan (REPP)

The statistics were updated in January 2023 and consist of data from 1996 to 2021. The data, which include statistics on income, as well as housing disparities between Black people and white people, show some of the main gaps between the two groups.

“The income levels haven’t improved that much. So, I think that’s the thing that sticks out to people,” Wright said.

The statistics indicate that the rate of Black people in need of core housing is roughly double that of white people across Canada, Nova Scotia, and Halifax.

The rate of Black people “in housing ‘not suitable’ for [their] household” is even more than double the rate of the white population across Canada, Nova Scotia, and in Halifax.

An infographic showing the average income, pre tax, by gender, for Nova Scotia 2021. The blue bars represent non-minorities, grey for all Nova Scotians, and orange for the Black community. In the male category the blue bar is at $55,000, the grey bar at $53,850, and the orange bar $41,280. For the female category, the blue bar is $42,040, the grey bar, $41,560, and the orange bar at $37,760
Credit: Carolann Wright leads a presentation by the African Nova Scotian Road to Economic Prosperity Plan (REPP)

The prevalence of low incomes among Black people is also more than double the rate than that of white people. The data also show major gaps in housing affordability rates among Black people and white people.

“Housing, land, and income, those are the things that are really important,” Wright said. “Supporting Black businesses, creating an infrastructure for Black businesses so that we can be employed.”

“Looking at the employment stats, we need to be able to hire as well and provide jobs for our communities.”

Increase in Nova Scotia’s Black population

In addition to the 18 African Nova Scotian infographics, REPP also shared two ‘Knowing Our Numbers’ infographics that indicate Nova Scotia’s Black population increased by 28.8% from 1996 to 2021. Halifax’s Black population increased by 36.3% over the same time period.

Among Nova Scotia’s Black population, 20.4% are said to be immigrants, a figure that is higher than the total Nova Scotia figure of 7.5%. Among the province’s Black immigrant population, 56.4% arrived within just the past five years.

The data also show that the gap in unemployment disparities among Blacks and whites living in Nova Scotia is closing.

In 1996, the provincial unemployment rate for Black people was just over 21%. The unemployment rate among white Nova Scotians that year was just over 13%.

After declining to a low of just over 10% in 2006, unemployment for Black Nova Scotians now sits about equal to unemployment among white Nova Scotians at around 14%

Still, Wright said other information in the data helps tell a bigger story.

“If you look at the other stats, there’s a chart that talks about the income levels for people of African Canadian descent. We’re really high in non-credential work — work without a degree,” Wright said. “We’re in the employment arena but the work that we do is not really high-income.”

Other data

The infographics break down a number of additional categories and information, including:

  • Black population growth patterns from 1996 to 2021 in Halifax and Nova Scotia, broken down into age-specific and generational demographics.
  • Labour force and employment rate contrasts between Black, white, and other races from 1996-2021
  • Unemployment rates
  • Education rates
  • Wage ratio by education
  • Average income rates
  • Prevalence of low-income disparity gaps among Black people and white people
  • A disparity gap in core housing needs among Black people and white people in Halifax; Nova Scotia; and in Canada
  • Housing affordability gaps
  • Housing suitability gaps
  • Housing adequacy gaps
  • Occupation comparisons
  • Immigration statistics
  • Poverty rate information
  • Core housing information
A graphic that says Funded by Canada

Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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  1. This is a perfect manifestation of systemic racism. Here at the IWK, BIPOC are over-represented in the lowest paid areas of our workforce (housekeeping, admin). Yet, when I bring this up in equity and diversity meetings, the response is always hand-wringing about how complex these problems are and how the money is finite and the health system has so many competing priorities and blah, blah, blah. However, the hospital is incapable of even just paying every employee a living wage. This is how structural and institutional, systemic racism works. We know the solutions, but they are impossible to implement because those people who are in positions to change things are never affected by the realities of racism.