Income Assistance Program

The Income Assistance program provides funding to assist eligible individuals and families who are ordinarily resident on-reserve, with basic and special needs services that are aligned with the rates and eligibility criteria for off-reserve residents of the reference province or territory.

In general, funding is provided to First Nations who, in turn, deliver Income Assistance programs and services to community members. In 2011-2012, 541 First Nations administered their own program (this figure does not include First Nations functioning under self-government arrangements that administer Income Assistance).

The program also funds the delivery of pre-employment measures designed to increase self-reliance, improve life skills and promote greater attachment to the work force. The Income Assistance program has four main components: basic needs, special needs, pre-employment supports, and service delivery. The expected outcome of the Income Assistance program is an improved quality of life through the reduction of poverty and hardship on-reserve, as well as improved participation in, and attachment to, the workforce.

For further information on the Income Assistance program in your community, contact the AANDC regional office nearest you.

Income Assistance Reform

Equipping First Nations people to fully participate in the economy is a priority for the Government of Canada and First Nations. That's why, through Economic Action Plan 2013, the Government is working with First Nations to improve the on-reserve Income Assistance Program to help ensure First Nation youth can access the skills and training they need to secure employment.

The improved program has two elements that will help ensure that youth who are able to work have the incentives to participate in the training necessary for them to gain employment:

  1. Enhanced Service Delivery provides support to First Nation communities to create the service delivery capacity necessary to effectively support eligible youth as they participate in training and transition to employment;
  2. First Nations Job Fund supports a range of activities, including up to one year of training leading to employment.

On January 31, 2014, Minister Valcourt announced the first set of recipients to receive funding under this initiative. The over 70 First Nations have opted-in to this new approach and are implementing case management, and skills training for employment for young Income Assistance clients.

The Government of Canada also committed to better align its on-reserve Income Assistance Program with provincial systems through improved compliance with program requirements.

AANDC is working with First Nations that deliver income assistance on reserves to ensure that the program is managed in compliance with the terms and conditions of the funding agreement between the First Nation and AANDC.

A video outlines some of the benefits of the program for First Nations youth.

"Before, I felt like I couldn't motivate myself. I felt like I was at a standstill. I felt like the people who guided me, the facilitators in the program, believed in me. They wanted me to strive for like a better future and really motivated me to want to try harder. I just wanted to be more self-sufficient and not depend on social assistance. And I just wanted to have a more positive outlook on life. This program actually motivated me to want to go back to school, and I want to choose a career."

- Adrian - Treaty 7 Blood Tribe First Nation, Alberta

Roundtables across Canada with Young Participants of the Enhanced Service Delivery

Over the summer and fall 2014, AANDC is hosting a series of roundtables across the country to hear from First Nations youth who are participating in the Enhanced Service Delivery program. The Government of Canada wants to hear about their experiences and find out how this initiative is helping them gain the skills and training they need to find a job. Case management workers and program providers will also have the chance to share their experiences.

For more info on the roundtables, visit this website for future updates.

Additional Information: