Connecting Youth with Jobs: Reforming Income Assistance

Recent changes to the Income Assistance program are aimed at providing on-reserve First Nations youth with the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce. Find out how.

Transcript: Connecting Youth with Jobs: Reforming Income Assistance


On January 31, 2014 the Government of Canada announced that 4,000 First Nations youth between the ages of 18 and 24 will participate in an improved on-reserve Income Assistance program. The goal – to connect youth with skills training and regional jobs.

What are the changes? How does it work? Let's have a look.

$132 million supports an Enhanced Service Delivery model. Youth work with a case manager to identify any barriers or challenges preventing them from getting a job, and establish a plan to overcome them. They get help with things like preparing their resumes, getting ready for an interview, or signing up for a course to help them meet job requirements.

Shantelle Watson – Director of Education, Training, and Employment for Mistawasis First Nation, member of Saskatoon Tribal Council:

The Enhanced Service Delivery funding is going to allow us to bring in a case manager - someone who is able to actually identify the amount of time needed to assist that client from the moment they walk in, to transitioning to, fulfill gainful employment skills, training opportunities.

Cathy Wheaton – representing Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Director of Social Development:

What we're looking at is implementing the program, first of all, at the community level and then doing some assessments of our 18-24 year old group in order to identify any specific barriers that they have. Once we've identified those specific barriers, then we'll roll out individual plans for those clients and use the Enhanced Delivery employment supports to address those barriers. And we're hoping that that funding will enable us to reduce or eliminate those barriers completely, so that they can move towards actual employment in our region.


The $109 million First Nations Job Fund supports opportunities for youth to get valuable job experience or skills training like using special equipment.

The First Nations Job Fund and the Enhanced Service Delivery program are complementary initiatives. Taken together, they allow 18-24 year old First Nations youth in participating communities to get personalised job training so they can access the job market. They offer skills assessments, personalized job training, job-coaching, and other supports such as mentoring. 

Stewart Prosper – One Arrow First Nation. Elder:

We can access a whole bunch of different programs under one roof, so to speak, that can help our young people. And we have a lot of our young people who have had problems in the past of trying to obtain employment because of some barriers like drivers license, (or) not having the skill levels, (and) that these can be accessed and used to help our young people. And it's exciting. And I wish back in my day we had that. That would have been really helpful.


In conclusion, improvements to the on-reserve Income Assistance program is another step the Government of Canada is taking to support First Nations youth to successfully join the workforce. For more information, please visit or contact the regional office near you.