Income Assistance: Key Facts
- The federal government's Income Assistance program for First Nations was originally approved in 1964. The program has not kept pace with renovations to provincial and territorial programming which offers similar programs. A new approach, involving First Nations communities and service providers, is needed so that First Nations people are able to participate in the changing economy.
- Currently, the government invests approximately $861 million per year in Income Assistance support payments to 86,798 clients and their families living on reserve. This represents an increase in expenditures of more than $260 million over the past decade. Under the current program, 161,062 residents on reserve benefit from Income Assistance. In some communities the dependency rate is more than 80%.
- In 2012-2013, about 550 First Nations participated in the Program (this figure does not include First Nations under self-government arrangements).
- The 2012 – 2013 on-reserve income assistance dependency rate was 33.6%, compared to a little over 5% for the rest of the Canadian population.
- Income assistance expenditures have grown from $599 million in 2001-2002 to $861 million in 2012-2013.
- In fiscal year 2012-2013, there were 87,479 individual income assistance clients. Factoring in dependents of these recipients, a total of 162,139 individuals benefited from these payments.
- In 2012-13, approximately 130 First Nation communities were involved in AANDC-funded projects aimed at reforming income assistance.
The following table explains the number of on-reserve income assistance beneficiaries across Canada and the percentage of the on-reserve population that is dependent on income assistance from 2005 to 2013.
Note: Beneficiaries’ data are influenced by a number of factors including changes in methodology, quality of reporting, completion rates and economic situations of each First Nations and Canada-wide.
*Source: Regional AANDC Office – First Nations National Reporting Guide, Income Assistance Data Collection Instrument.