Housing inadequacy in rural Saskatchewan First Nation communities

PLOS Glob Public Health. 2022 Aug 2;2(8):e0000470. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000470. eCollection 2022.


Housing and house conditions on First Nation communities in Canada are important determinants of health for community members. Little is known about rural First Nation housing in the Canadian Prairies. The aim was to survey houses in two rural First Nation communities in Saskatchewan, Canada to understand housing conditions, prevalence of mold/mildew and dampness, and sources, locations and frequency of mold and dampness. Surveys were conducted with an adult member of each household in 144 houses. Surveys assessed: size, age, and number of rooms in the house; number of individuals residing in the house; presence of mold/mildew and dampness, and sources, locations and frequency of mold and dampness. Houses were mostly two-bedrooms (25.7%) or more (67.4%). Thirty-one percent of houses had six or more people living in the house with crowding present in 68.8% of houses. Almost half of the houses (44.5%) were in need of major repairs. More than half of the houses had water or dampness in the past 12 months in which dripping/puddles and standing water were most commonly identified and were from surface water and plumbing. More than half of the houses indicated that this dampness caused damage. A smell of mold or mildew was present in over half of the houses (52.1%) and 73.3% of these houses indicated that this smell was always present. Housing adequacy including crowding, dampness, and mold are significant issues for houses in these two rural Saskatchewan First Nation communities. Housing inadequacy is more common in these rural communities as compared to Canadian statistics. Housing inadequacy is modifiable and is important to address for multiple reasons, but notably, as a social determinant of health. Federal government strategy to address and redress housing in First Nation communities in Canada is a fiduciary responsibility and critical to reconciliation.

Grants and funding

This study was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research “Assess, Redress, Re-assess: Addressing Disparities in Respiratory Health among First Nations People,” CIHR MOP-246983-ABH-CCAA-11829; J.A.D., S.A., and P.P. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.