Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides funding for social services as a matter of policy.
Grant and contribution funding for Income Assistance (IA), and Assisted Living (AL) is targeted to clients/beneficiaries who are ordinarily resident on reserve or who, for the purposes of these programs, are deemed to be ordinarily resident on reserve.
Grants and contributions to eligible recipients under the Income Assistance program are intended to provide financial assistance to low-income on reserve residents to support their basic and special need, at standards reasonably comparable to the relevant province of residence or Yukon, and to help them become more self-reliant.
Grants and contributions under the Assisted Living program are intended to support the special needs of chronically ill and disabled persons for non-medical personal care services, for non-medical institutional care and for public education and awareness.
These programs are intended for First Nations people.
2. Legal and Policy Authority
The following legislation and policy decisions support Income Assistance and Assisted Living Programs:
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act, R.S.C. 1985 c. 1-6, s. 4, R.S.C. 1985 c. I-6, s. 4;
3. Purpose, Objectives and Expected Results
Performance indicators that apply to these programs are found in the Income Assistance and Assisted Living Performance Information Profiles. These programs align with the Transitional 2018-19 ISC Departmental Results Framework and fall under the "Individuals and Families" Core Responsibility. They contribute to Departmental Result 3: Indigenous people receive essential social services.
Within the Income Assistance PIP the program contributes to the following expected outcomes:
Eligible clients and dependants have access to the on-reserve Income Assistance program
Eligible clients and dependants have access to and use pre-employment supports and services.
Capacity exists in First Nation communities to deliver the Income Assistance program.
Basic and special needs of eligible clients on reserve are met.
Eligible clients and dependants are transitioning to the workforce, education, and/or other support programs.
Indigenous people are self-sufficient.
Within the Assisted Living PIP the program contributes to the following expected outcomes:
Capacity exists in First Nation communities to deliver eligible Assisted Living Program services.
Barriers to access to social support services on reserve are addressed and overcome.
In-home care, adult foster care and institutional care social supports are accessible are accessible to eligible low-income individuals.
Assisted Living program clients have the ability to maintain functional independence within their home communities.
The Income Assistance program provides funding to assist eligible individuals and families who are ordinarily resident on reserve with: basic needs, special needs, and employment and pre-employment measures designed to increase self-reliance, to improve life skills and to promote greater attachment to the work force. The expected outcome of the Income Assistance program is an improved quality of life through the reduction of poverty and hardship on reserve and improved participation in and attachment to the workforce; ultimately leading to self-sufficiency.
The Social Development Program Management Infrastructure Initiative (SDPMII) is intended to provide project-based financial assistance to recipients to assist them to identify models of effective management and accountability for social development programs that will lead to more effective, cost-efficient and accountable social development programming.
The Assisted Living program provides funding to assist eligible individuals with in-home care, adult foster care and institutional care. Eligible individuals must: be ordinarily resident on reserve; have been formally assessed by a health care professional (in a manner that aligns with the reference province or territory) as requiring services; and not have the means to obtain such services themselves. The purpose of the funding is to help provide non-medical social support services to seniors, adults with chronic illness, and children and adults with disabilities (mental and physical) so that they can maintain functional independence and achieve greater self-reliance. The expected outcome for the Assisted Living program is that low-income individuals are helped to maintain their functional independence for as long as possible within their home communities.
The Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative provides funding for projects and activities that increase awareness of disability issues and available supports; and/or improve the coordination and accessibility to these programs and supports among individuals with disabilities living on reserve.
Table 1. Eligible Recipients for Income Assistance, Income Assistance SDPMII, Assisted Living and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative
Income Assistance (1)
Income Assistance SDPMII (2)
Assisted Living (3)-(4)
Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative (5)
Chiefs and Councils of First Nation bands recognized by the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada
Tribal councils (6)
Indigenous communities and organizations
Municipal governments or agencies
Private business, organizations or agencies
Volunteer, not-for-profit, or non-governmental organizations
Table notes are found in Annex A.
Client / Beneficiary Eligibility Criteria
Table 2: Income Assistance, Assisted Living, Disabilities Initiative and SDPMII Program Eligible Clients
Eligible Clients / Beneficiaries
Income Assistance (1)
Assisted Living (2)
Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative
Individual who is "ordinarily resident on reserve" (4)
Student who is "ordinarily resident on reserve" (5)
Child in care (6)
Table notes are found in Annex B.
Where required, ISC may provide Income Assistance and Assisted Living grant funding directly to individuals who qualify to receive payment, according to the client eligibility criteria for program funding set out below.
Eligible Initiatives and Projects
Basic and special needs;
Employment and pre-employment activities; and
Projects to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of program design, implementation and reporting (Social Development Program Management Infrastructure Initiative).
Adult foster care; and
Institutional care services; and
Projects to improve the coordination and accessibility of existing disability programs and services (Disabilities Initiative).
5. Type and Nature of Eligible Expenditures
Table 3: Income Assistance, Assisted Living, Disabilities Initiative and SDPMII Program Eligible Expenditures
Income Assistance SDPMII
Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative
Basic and Special Needs (1)
Employment and Pre-Employment costs (2)
Employment and pre-employment financial assistance (3)
Service Delivery and Administrative costs (4)
In-Home Care (5)
Adult Foster and Institutional Care (6)
Public Education and Awareness Activities (7)
Table notes are found in Annex C.
6. Total Canadian Government Funding and Stacking Limits
Under contributions, the stacking limit maximum level of funding to a recipient from all sources (including federal, provincial/territorial, and/or municipal) for any one activity, initiative or project is 100 percent of eligible costs.
7. Method for Determining the Amount of Funding
Income Assistance and Assisted Living:
In Atlantic, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon and British Columbia regions, amount of funding is based on historical budgets adjusted for changes directly attributable to an increase or decrease in eligible individuals, eligible activities or eligible rates.
In Ontario region, amount of funding is based on the Memorandum of Agreement Respecting Welfare Programs for Indians (Ontario "65 Welfare Agreement")
In Alberta region, amount of funding is based on the "Administrative Reform Agreement with the Province of Alberta" (1992 Administrative Reform Agreement)
The Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative and Income Assistance SDPMII amount of funding, if available, is based on proposals and budgets as approved by ISC.
8. Maximum Amounts Payable
The annual amount for each recipient will not exceed the following dollar values listed in Table 4 of this document.
Table 4: Income Assistance, Assisted Living, Disabilities Initiative, SDPMII Maximum Amount Payable per Eligible Recipient
Income Assistance SDPMII
Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative
Applicable rate published by the reference P/T (1)
$400,000 per project
Actual costs of the eligible expenditures (2)
$160,000 per project
For Income Assistance, direct costs of serving clients, the maximum amount payable to any recipient in respect to any client is the applicable rate published by the reference province or territory for the eligible expenditures (except in exceptional circumstances when approved by the ISC Income Assistance program Assistant Deputy Minister), as may be revised from time to time by the reference province or territory.
For Assisted Living, the maximum amount payable to any recipient with respect to any client is the actual costs of the eligible expenditures associated with that client for In-Home Care, Foster Care and Institutional Care consistent with applicable provincial/territorial programming.
9. Basis on Which Payments will be Made
The transfer payment (payments to recipients) will be subject to pre-established eligibility and other entitlement criteria, and will also be based on program risk, recipient risk and departmental cash and agreement management policies.
Payments, including installments and advances, will be made throughout a fiscal year to accommodate cash requirements of the recipient.
Income Assistance SDPMII and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative projects are approved based upon project proposals, submitted on an annual basis by eligible recipients to ISC regional offices. Proposals are reviewed and approved based on merit and availability of funds. Payments are made to reimburse actual eligible expenditures.
10. Application Requirements and Assessment Criteria
Before entering into a funding arrangement, ISC shall confirm its authorities to enter into an agreement with the recipient and to fund the proposed activities. The departmental review procedures for verifying eligibility, entitlement and application approval (including risk assessments) are set out in relevant departmental program directives and procedures.
In cases where ISC funds Income Assistance and Assisted Living directly to eligible clients or recipients, ISC regional offices accept applications for income support from residents of communities where Chief and Council have not made arrangements to administer the program.
Income Assistance and Assisted Living applicants (or their guardians or maintainers on their behalf) must demonstrate their eligibility for funding. Applicants must meet the qualifying requirements of their province or territory of residence (including an assessment of financial need which covers their employability, family composition and age, and financial resources available to their household).
For Income Assistance, the qualifying requirements can only be adapted from province or territory of residence in exceptional circumstances (to take into account special local conditions or lack of ancillary services) and with approval from the ISC Income Assistance program Assistant Deputy Minister.
For Assisted Living, before funding an eligible recipient, ISC will verify that the associated care facility can demonstrate that:
it operates according to the licensing/accreditation guidelines applicable to the facility type of the relevant province/territory; and
the care services for which the institution is invoicing ISC do not exceed Types I and II care, federal classification or equivalent.
11. Due Diligence and Reporting
The 2008 Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments requires effective monitoring and oversight for program management as follows:
Performance Measurement Strategy
To support a reduction in the reporting burden, performance measurement data will be collected using various methods and sources. Recipient performance reporting requirements will be set out in departmental recipient reporting documents. Frequency of reporting will be based on recipient risk.
Financial reporting requirements will be set out in the funding agreements and the frequency of reporting will be based on the recipient risk.
12. Official Languages
Where a program supports activities that may be delivered to members of either official language community, access to services from the recipient will be provided in both official languages where there is significant demand and Part IV of the Official Languages Act is applicable. In addition, the department will ensure that the design and the delivery of programs respect the obligations of the Government of Canada as set out in Part VII of the Official Languages Act.
13. Intellectual Property
Where a grant is provided for the development of material in which copyright subsists, conditions for shared rights will be set out in the funding agreement.
Where a contribution is provided for the development of material in which copyright subsists, conditions for shared rights will be set out in the funding agreement.
14. Repayable Contributions
Provisions for repayable contributions do not apply. Any contributions made to private firms under these programs are not intended to generate profits or to increase the value of a business.
15. Redistribution of Contributions
Recipients are not agents of the federal government in making redistribution of contributions. Where a recipient further distributes contribution funding to another service delivery organization (i.e. an authority, board, committee, or other entity authorized to act on behalf of the recipient), the recipient shall remain liable to the Department for the performance of its obligations under the funding agreement. Neither the objectives of the programs and services nor the expectations of transparent, fair and equitable services shall be compromised by any redistribution of contribution funding.
16. Other Terms and Conditions
Land-less Bands and Non-Reserve Communities
Subject to annual review, ISC maintains a list of land-less Bands and non-reserve communities that are eligible to receive program funding in accordance with the ISC Income Assistance National Program Guidelines and the ISC Assisted Living National Program Guidelines.
Annex A - Eligible Recipients
Table 1. Grants and Contributions Eligible Recipients: Income Assistance, Income Assistance SDPMII, Assisted Living and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative
Recipients of Income Assistance funding must agree to: deliver the program at standards reasonably comparable to the relevant province/territory of residence and in accordance with the ISC program guidelines; conduct compliance reviews; provide a redress mechanism; and provide reports as per the funding agreement.
For Income Assistance "reasonably comparable" is defined as providing support to First Nations, within the limits of funds available to ISC for the Income Assistance program, to deliver on reserve the range and scope of income assistance services as defined in the legislation, regulations, or guidelines of the reference province/territory for proximate non-reserve communities. The features of reasonably comparability are: rates of support and eligibility criteria that are the same as the reference province/territory (but which may be adapted in exceptional circumstances to take into account special local conditions or lack of ancillary services); and capacity to manage the program.
In adapting rates and/or eligibility criteria, approval from the ISC Income Assistance program Assistant Deputy Minister must be sought. ISC will assess the validity of the adaptation taking into account related federal or provincial/territorial benefits to avoid funding duplication as well as the views of the reference province/territory to assess whether the change will unduly affect mobility or migration on or off reserve.
For Income Assistance SDPMII, recipients will confirm they are Councils of Indian Bands recognized by the Minister of ISC and/or First Nation organizations. No two entities will be funded for the same purpose for the same population catchment area. Approval from the ISC Income Assistance program Assistant Deputy Minister must be sought.
Recipients of Assisted Living In-Home Care funding must have:
established program guidelines for the delivery of Assisted Living programs and services, referencing program guidelines and provincial/territorial programs, standards and guidelines;
established management and accountability guidelines;
confirmed that the actual In-Home Care services being provided correspond to and meet or make up part of a care plan that meets the client's assessed needs; and
supporting documentation relating to past program delivery (this provision does not apply to a new recipient).
Recipients of Assisted Living Foster Care/Institutional Care must:
operate according to the licensing/ accreditation guidelines applicable to the facility type of the reference province/territory;
ensure that the actual Foster Care/Institutional Care services being provided correspond to and meet or make up part of a care plan that meets the client's assessed needs; and
ensure that the care services for which the care facility is invoicing for service do not exceed eligible expenditures as defined in Annex C.
Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative Funding Recipients that engage in disability-related information services will receive funding subject to availability, based on project proposals, as outlined in program guidelines. The applications for this funding will include clearly-defined objectives, a work plan and proposed outcomes, and should demonstrate that they are designed to improve the coordination and accessibility of existing programs and services for persons with disabilities ordinarily resident on reserve.
First Nations Band Councils and Tribal Councils may deliver programs directly; share services with other recipients; or enter into agreements for service delivery with other recipients. Contributions are subject to the Redistribution of Contributions, set out in section 15, above.
Annex B - Client Eligibility Criteria
1. Table 2. Eligible Clients for Income Assistance, Assisted Living and Assisted Living Disabilities InitiativeFor Income Assistance, the client must:
For Income Assistance, the client must:
be ordinarily resident on reserve;
be eligible for basic needs and/or special needs assistance (as defined by the eligibility criteria of the province or territory of residence unless in exceptional circumstances when approved by ISC Income Assistance program Assistant Deputy Minister); and
demonstrate a requirement for income assistance programs and services support and demonstrate that they have no other source of funding to meet basic needs.
In exceptional circumstances, ISC may provide funds to cover basic funeral and burial expenses of non-Income Assistance recipients, where a means test shows that there are insufficient funds within the family, the estate of the deceased or other sources.
For Assisted Living In-Home care, Adult Foster Care, and Institutional Care services, clients must be:
ordinarily resident on reserve;
formally assessed by designated social service and/or health professionals, as defined by the Department, as requiring one or more of the eligible expenditures, using the care assessment criteria prescribed by the Department; and
unable to obtain such services themselves, or access other federal or provincial/territorial sources of support, as confirmed by an assessment covering employability, family composition and age, and financial resources available to the household.
For Income Assistance, Assisted Living, and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative, an individual who is "ordinarily resident on reserve" means that an individual client:
lives on reserve and does not maintain a primary residence off reserve; or
is off reserve for the primary purpose of obtaining required medical care or social service support because there is no reasonably comparable service available on reserve, and lived on reserve immediately prior to receiving the medical care or social service support.
For Income Assistance, Assisted Living, and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative "reserve" is as defined in the Indian Act; includes the Yukon Territory; and excludes lands which have been designated for commercial purposes (for First Nations operating under the Indian Act) or leased for commercial purposes (for First Nations operating under the First Nations Land Management Act).
For Income Assistance, Assisted Living and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative, a student who is registered and attending a secondary or post-secondary education or training program and is receiving federal, band or Indigenous organization education/training funding continues to be considered ordinarily resident on reserve if he or she:
maintains a residence on reserve; or
is a dependent of a family that maintains a primary residence on reserve; or
returns to live on reserve with parents, guardians, caregivers or maintainers during the year, even if they live elsewhere while attending school or working at a temporary job.
For Income Assistance, Assisted Living and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative, the residence of a child who comes into the care of a mandated child welfare authority is derived from the residency of the child's parent or guardian at the time the child is taken into care.
In the case of children, clients must be formally assessed as requiring such services, but only in cases where the responsibility for the funding and provision of such services does not lie with other agencies/programs.
Children Out of the Parental Home (COPH) are eligible to be funded following guidelines and legislation of each province or territory. Additional conditions relating to COPH funding are outlined in the ISC program guidelines.
Annex C - Type and Nature of Eligible Expenditures
Table 3. Eligible Expenditures: Income Assistance, Income Assistance SDPMII, Assisted Living and Assisted Living Disabilities Initiative
For Income Assistance, funding is provided for resources to deliver the program on reserve at rates and eligibility criteria reasonably comparable to those of the reference province/territory.
For Income Assistance, funding is for eligible basic and special needs items including, but not limited to: rent and utilities, food (including special diets), clothing (including children's winter and school clothing), personal incidentals, essential household items, special transportation and moving costs, and funerals and burials (including the costs or repatriation of a body, if required, by rail, air and/or vehicle transport).
For Income Assistance, funding is for eligible employment and pre-employment cost items including, but not limited to, employment and training-related child care and accommodation, transportation and equipment, employment-related relocation costs, training, and career and job-seeking skills counselling.
For Income Assistance, funding is for eligible employment and pre-employment financial assistance items in the reference province/territory including, but not limited to, training allowances; wage subsidy associated with work experience; transfers to employers, other institutions and governments for training and employment services (e.g., Work Opportunity Program, Aboriginal Social Assistance Recipient Employment Training Initiative, Job Corps).
For Income Assistance, Income Assistance SDPMII and Assisted Living, funding is for service delivery and administrative costs directly attributable to program and service delivery including:
Salaries, wages and benefits; travel, transportation, accommodation; training and professional development, office supplies; instructional and information materials; office equipment; telecommunications; computer systems; printing and professional services;
Data collection and management activities required for program monitoring, planning, reporting and evaluation; maintenance and upgrading of systems; and
Development and implementation of case management systems including structured client assessment, referral, job placement, re-assessment and counseling, training and professional support for administrators and case managers; and development of operational policy implementation projects and delivery options to encourage local integration or aggregation of services (e.g. management control framework, aggregation models, income support and labour market programs) for more effective delivery and administration of the programs.
For Assisted Living, the type and nature of eligible in-home care expenditures include the following: meal programs and meal preparation; menu planning; day programs; attendant care; short-term respite care; group care; light housekeeping; laundry; ironing; mending; carrying wood; home cleaning (light and heavy cleaning); minor home maintenance (e.g., fixing a door knob or attaching a railing along stairs); and non-medical transportation.
Model A – The Canada Assistance Plan Model - Under this model, eligible adult foster and institutional care expenditures align to cost-shareable facility-based care services, as per the Canada Assistance Plan (1966-1996). Where this model has been implemented, eligible expenditures are understood to be limited to the actual cost of care services which may not exceed Type I or Type II care, as defined in Health Canada's (1973) Federal Classification System for Institutional Care.
Model B - The Subsidized Co-Payment Fee Model - Under this model, eligible adult foster and institutional care expenditures align to comparable income-tested benefits and supports provided to individuals residing in facility-based care by the reference province/territory. Where this model has been implemented, eligible expenditures must align to the subsidized co-payment fee* of the reference province/territory (i.e., the difference between the income-tested reduced rate and the full co-payment fee that would have otherwise been charged to the individual, per the co-payment fee rate structure and income-testing criteria of the reference province/territory).
*"Co-payment fee" refers to the fee charged directly to individuals (or their trustee or family) residing in care facilities, normally associated with room and board type expenditures. The term used to describe this fee may differ across jurisdictions, facility-types etc. (e.g., "co-insurance fee", "user fee", "residential fee").
For models A and B:
Eligible expenditures are inclusive of care provided in both facilities located on and off receive, provided other criteria are met (e.g. the individual is ordinarily resident on reserve);
Expenditures for care provided in a facility that is not operating according to the licensing/ accreditation guidelines applicable to the facility type of the reference province/territory are not eligible; and
the resident of an institution is expected to pay the provincial/territorial government established co-payment fee as well as clothing and personal expenses to the extent his/her individual circumstances permit.
In exceptional circumstances and on compassionate grounds, transitory provisions that exceed eligible expenditures defined here can be made upon demonstration that: no other federal or provincial sources of support are available; a remedial plan is in place; and where failure to provide this interim support would result in a denial of service on the basis of residency.
Specialized medical and capital items are not eligible expenditures.
The type and nature of eligible public education and awareness activity expenditures include the following: advocacy work, public awareness products and services, regional workshops and group administrative costs.