Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is one of the federal government departments responsible for meeting the Government of Canada’s obligations and commitments to First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and for fulfilling the federal government’s constitutional responsibilities in the North.
The Government support First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in their efforts to:
The Government recognizes the importance of Aboriginal peoples’ contribution to Canada’s economic growth and prosperity and therefore will continue to focus on education and economic development – both on and off reserve – as key priorities.
The Government has made it a priority to renew and deepen its relationship with Aboriginal peoples and recognizes that their contribution will be important to Canada’s future prosperity. However, concerted action is needed to address the barriers to social and economic participation that many Aboriginal Canadians face, and for this reason, since 2006, the Government has pursued an agenda based on achieving concrete results and working with willing partners, focussing on five priority areas:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper launched the Northern Adult Basic Education Program in February 2012 to help Northerners benefit from the tremendous job opportunities in the territories and ensure that more working-age adults achieve sufficient levels of literacy and numeracy
The Government and the Assembly of First Nations jointly launched a National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education in June 2011. On February 8, 2012, the Panel released its recommendations on options to improve education for First Nation students. The Government is reviewing the Panel’s report and will plot a course of action in the near future.
The 2008 Statement of Apology to former students of Indian Residential Schools remains a touchstone towards building a new relationship with Aboriginal peoples based on reconciliation and healing for past injustices, and strengthening Aboriginal governance and self-government.
The Government of Canada remains committed to the timely implementation of the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. It has allocated the resources needed to ensure that mental health and emotional support services continue to be provided to former students and their families, and that payments to former students are made in a timely and effective manner.
Concrete action has been taken to support good governance and create the right conditions for economic growth, through financial transparency and electoral reform legislation. In November 2011, Bill C-27, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, was introduced in the House of Commons. The proposed legislation responds to the commitment in the 2011 Speech from the Throne to support democratic, transparent and accountable First Nation governments.
The Government is acting to increase Aboriginal participation in the labour markets through two new initiatives launched in 2010, with a total investment of $1.8 billion over 5 years. The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) supports a network of over 80 Aboriginal organizations with 400 points of service. The Strategy is expected to result in approximately 14,000-16,000 jobs each year over the next five years. The Skills and Partnership Fund supports projects to test new approaches, partnerships, and pilot innovations that provide skills training to Aboriginal people facing multiple barriers to employment. So far, it has funded over $53 million to 38 projects.
At the same time, AANDC is taking action to help income assistance clients to obtain the skills and support needed to make the transition into the labour market. Since 2009-10, AANDC has allocated nearly $6 million to support more than 45 projects linked to the implementation of active measures, including training and skills development, and has established partnerships with provincial governments and First Nations in Quebec and Saskatchewan to support the approach.
The Government has worked with partners to implement the Urban Aboriginal Strategy, which develops community-based initiatives to improve social and economic opportunities for Aboriginal people living in urban centres. It is currently operating in 13 cities through partnerships among the Aboriginal community, local organizations, municipal and provincial governments and the private sector, which are aimed at improving life skills, promoting job training, skills and entrepreneurship and supporting Aboriginal women, children and families. Since 2007, the federal investment has leveraged more than $50 million in additional funding from municipal and provincial governments and the private sector.
The Government of Canada believes that First Nations should expect, as do all Canadians, safe, clean drinking water and the effective treatment of wastewater. Between 2006-07 and 2012-13, the Government of Canada will have invested approximately $2.5 billion in First Nations water and wastewater infrastructure. In July, the Government issued the results of the National Assessment of Water and Wastewater Systems in First Nation communities, an unprecedented reference tool that will inform future initiatives related to water and wastewater systems in First Nations communities. The Government introduced the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, in the Senate in February. This legislation will allow the Government and First Nations, to develop federal regulations to ensure First Nations have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water, effective treatment of wastewater and protection of sources of water on First Nation lands.
Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the Government of Canada will invest $730 million in a range of Aboriginal health programs, including the Maternal Child Health Program, the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, and the Health Services Integration Fund in order to improve health outcomes and address health risks.
Budget 2011 announced $20 million over two years for the expansion of the First Nations Lands Management regime. This regime allows First Nations to enact their own laws for the development, conservation, use and possession of reserve land, enabling these communities to better pursue and seize economic opportunities. On January 23, 2012, the Government announced that eighteen more First Nations will soon begin a process to opt out of the 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume control over their reserve land and resources.
AANDC also has key priorities in the North.