Frequently Asked Questions: Strategic Partnerships Initiative

Q.1 What is the Strategic Partnerships Initiative (SPI)?

The Strategic Partnerships Initiative is an innovative program launched in 2010 to increase Aboriginal participation in complex economic opportunities, particularly in the natural resource sectors, by coordinating the efforts and investments of multiple federal partners.

Q.2 Which federal departments participate in the Strategic Partnerships Initiative?

There are currently 15 partnering federal departments and agencies involved in the program, including:

  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
  • Industry Canada
  • Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Canadian Economic Development Agency for the North
  • Parks Canada
  • Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Status of Women Canada
  • Western Economic Diversification
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Canada Economic Development for Québec Region
  • Environment Canada
  • Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
Q.3 How much money has been committed by the Government to the Strategic Partnerships Initiative?

In 2009, the Government of Canada committed funds to the Strategic Partnerships Initiative as part of the Action Plan to implement the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development. An annual ongoing budget of $14.45 million is available to support projects in key sectors of the Canadian economy such as mining, fisheries, forestry, agriculture and energy.

Q.4 How is the Strategic Partnerships Initiative different from other federal programs?

The Strategic Partnerships Initiative enables partnering federal departments and agencies to work together in order to coordinate the efforts and investments required to effectively support Aboriginal participation in complex economic development opportunities. Before the Strategic Partnerships Initiative, funding decisions were typically made individually by federal departments and agencies and in isolation of a broader strategy. This collaborative approach serves to address any gaps in existing programs that may limit or exclude Aboriginal involvement in opportunities. It also enables federal partners to strategically engage other levels of government and private sector partners so they may leverage additional funding or in-kind support.

The initiative also provides a mechanism for federal partners to combine their program application and approvals processes, thereby reducing the administrative and reporting burden on funding recipients.

Q.5 Under the Strategic Partnerships Initiative, how are investment decisions made and who makes them?

Federal partners to the program identify emerging economic opportunities across the country which are complex and require the involvement of multiple federal departments. A lead department, in collaboration with other key partners, then develops a proposal for funding, taking into consideration federal programming that may already exist to support Aboriginal participation in the identified opportunity.

The proposals, including funding allocations, are reviewed and approved by an inter-departmental investment committee comprised of federal departments that are signatories to the program.

Q.6 What are the criteria for funding under the Strategic Partnerships Initiative?

Investments are prioritized based on the extent to which they meet a number of criteria and objectives, including:

  • Alignment with Government of Canada priorities;
  • Alignment with the objectives of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development;
  • Demonstration of significant partnership potential requiring a coordinated federal approach;
  • Proposed investments are based on the evidence of need;
  • The initiative does not overlap or duplicate existing federal programs and SPI funding will fill a demonstrated gap; and
  • The federal role for the proposed initiative is clearly demonstrated.
Q.7 What types of activities are supported under the Strategic Partnerships Initiative?

The Strategic Partnerships Initiative supports a broad range of activities focused on increasing Aboriginal participation in complex economic development opportunities. In consideration of other existing programs, the Initiative plays a complimentary role by addressing gaps and improving federal coordination.

The program enables the development and implementation of multi-partner strategies that help to position Aboriginal communities for employment, economic and business opportunities. Funded activities are largely focused on the early stages of economic development opportunities where studies and research activities are needed, skills assessments are undertaken, when negotiation and engagement expertise are required and when local business and skills inventories are created. The Initiative also supports a number of activities related to community awareness and knowledge building, as well as administrative and technical capacity.

The flexible, yet targeted approach achieved through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative also enables the federal government to act quickly in response to key economic opportunities. As such, investments continue to support Aboriginal participation in some of the largest resource development projects across Canada, including the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, Labrador Trough in Québec, Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in the Atlantic and oil and gas development on the west coast.

Q.8 Who is eligible for funding under the Strategic Partnerships Initiative and how do they apply?

Following decisions by the interdepartmental investment committee with respect to the amount of SPI funding to be made available for various economic opportunities, work plans are then developed, in collaboration with Aboriginal communities and other partners, to clearly identify the specific activities to be achieved with the investment from the Strategic Partnerships Initiative.

Eligible funding recipients include:

  • First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities;
  • Tribal Councils, Self-governing First Nations; and local governments of Inuit communities;
  • Aboriginal corporations, associations, cooperatives, and institutions (for-profit and not-for-profit); and
  • Aboriginal businesses, partnerships, and joint ventures.
Q.9 What are the intended outcomes of SPI?

The overall objective of the Strategic Partnerships Initiative is to increase economic development opportunities for Aboriginal communities and businesses by promoting partnerships between federal and non-federal partners in priority sectors of the economy.

Key outcomes include: enhanced cooperation and collaboration among federal and Aboriginal partners; simplified government applications, monitoring and reporting; greater Aboriginal capacity to engage in economic development opportunities; and, a whole-of-government approach to Aboriginal economic development.