On-reserve Income Assistance program

This program helps eligible on-reserve residents and Status Indians in Yukon:

Inflation relief benefit

Starting in April 2023, the Government of Canada has provided an inflation relief benefit of approximately $256.8 million over an 8 month period.

Due to the ongoing struggles related to affordability and as the cost of living remains high, the Government of Canada has issued another cost of living benefit of approximately $64 million over a 2 month period for February and March 2024. This is to support vulnerable residents on-reserve and in Yukon through the remaining winter months. The amount equates to approximately $300 per client, for 2 months or an alternative option determined by First Nation leadership to support all eligible individuals and families including:

This temporary support measure will help recipients cover essential living expenses for those in receipt of Income Assistance.

As with previous supplemental payments, First Nations will have the flexibility to allocate the supplemental funding through alternate means, such as community food pantries, to better respond to the needs of individuals and families in receipt of Income Assistance. These decisions will be made by individual First Nations, communities and organizations that administer the program. Funding will be administered through existing channels.

If you are eligible to receive the temporary relief benefit, reach out to your community band office, or in Yukon, please contact the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada regional office.

On this page

About the program

This program is a last resort for eligible individuals and their families. They must be:

Income assistance includes funds for:

If you have questions about this program, contact your regional office.

Recent budget investments in the program

Budget 2018 invested $86.9 million over 2 years to improve the Income Assistance Program, including $78.4 million over 2 years for case management services to help individuals transition from income assistance to employment and education.

As part of its Budget 2018 commitments, the Government of Canada supported a First Nations-led engagement process. The national summary report summarizing participants' comments, opinions, and recommendations made during engagement sessions on income assistance is now available.

Budget 2019 committed $39 million in 2020-2021 to keep giving case management and pre-employment supports to First Nation communities.

Budget 2021 proposes to invest $618.4 million over 2 years, while work continues, including:

  • $540 million over 2 years, starting in 2021-22, to continue to address basic needs and increased program demand, including as a result of COVID-19.
  • $78.4 million over 2 years, starting in 2021-22, to continue providing case management and support to help people find work.

Who can apply

Funding is provided to:

When funded, they're responsible for providing this program to eligible individuals. The program is available on reserves in all provinces and Yukon, and delivered in accordance with the income assistance rates and eligibility criteria of the individuals' province of residence or Yukon.

To be eligible for income assistance, an individual must:

If you're eligible and apply for income assistance, you'll be assessed according to the criteria of your:

This assessment covers:

Learn more: eligibility requirements for individuals.

You can also contact:

Who qualifies as ordinarily resident on-reserve?

Ordinarily resident on reserve means that an individual lives on-reserve and does not maintain a primary residence off reserve, but may be temporarily off reserve for the purpose of seeking education or obtaining care or services not available on reserve.


There's no deadline for this program. You can apply at any time.

How to apply

The application process depends on where you reside. To learn more, contact:

Program guidelines

To learn more about the program, refer to: Income Assistance National Program Guidelines 2019 to 2020.

Updated guidelines come into effect on April 1, 2022:

Related links

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