On-reserve Income Assistance program

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

Inflation relief benefit

Since April 2020, the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program has provided over $1.1 billion in extra support to help Income Assistance recipients and their families cover their basic living costs during tough times. This includes $512 million committed from 2020 to 2022 to assist clients and their dependents during the COVID-19 pandemic and $609 million from 2022 to 2024 to respond to the high rate of inflation. This assistance allowed First Nations communities to decide how best to support their people in culturally appropriate ways.

As the immediate challenges that prompted this additional support are gradually easing, the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program is focusing on finding lasting solutions for low-income persons on-reserve.

In Budget 2024, the Government of Canada allocated substantial new and renewed funding to enhance the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program and improve living conditions on-reserve:

While this new and renewed funding represents a substantial investment in the social safety net on-reserve, needs remain high, and the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program is still dedicated to further improvements. The On-Reserve Income Assistance Program will continue to monitor conditions in First Nation communities and use its best efforts to work with partners to support those who need it most.

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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