Income Assistance National Program Guidelines 2019 to 2020
Table of contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Objective
- 3. Expected outcomes
- 4. Funding recipients
- 5. Program recipients (clients)
- 6. Activities
- 7. Expenditures
- 8. Funding
- 9. Reporting requirements and monitoring and oversight activities
- 10. Personal information
- 11. Accountability
- 12. Official languages
- 13. Intellectual property
- 14. Definitions
- 15. Contact information
- 16. Related links
1.1 These guidelines set out the delivery requirements and standards for funding recipients of the Income Assistance program that have entered into a funding agreement with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
1.2 This document will be in effect as of April 1, 2019 and replaces the Income Assistance National Program Guidelines published in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.
1.3 This document is to be read in conjunction with the funding agreement signed by the funding recipient, applicable provincial or territorial legislation, ISC's regional office program manuals or guidelines and any other ISC approved documentation. These documents provide information about provincial and territorial services, supports and rates to help funding recipients align the delivery of services and supports with those of provincial and territorial programs, where applicable. These documents can be requested using the contact information in Section 15 of this document.
1.4 Where ISC has entered into agreements with provinces, the obligations set out in the agreements are to be read first and take precedence over the delivery requirements and standards of the Income Assistance program, as explained in this document.
- In Ontario, the Memorandum of Agreement Respecting Welfare Programs for Indians guides ISC's reimbursement to the Government of Ontario for social services cost-shared in accordance with the agreement. This agreement (referred to informally as the "1965 Agreement" or the 1965 "Indian Welfare Services Agreement"), supports cost-sharing of the on reserve Income Assistance program delivered in First Nations communities under the overall management oversight and responsibility of the Government of Ontario: Ontario Works
- In Alberta, the Arrangement for the Funding and Administration of Social Services (referred to informally as the "1991 Alberta Reform Agreement") guides ISC's reimbursements to Alberta for social services that the Government of Alberta delivers to First Nations individuals who are ordinarily residents on reserve in the Province of Alberta
- Other bilateral or tripartite agreements or memoranda of understanding may be developed in collaboration with, and must first be approved by ISC's Social Policy and Programs branch at ISC Headquarters
The Income Assistance program provides funds to individuals (known as clients) and families (clients and their dependents) who are ordinarily residents on reserve or Status First Nations living in the Yukon Territory, as a last resort where all other means of generating income to cover basic needs have been exhausted. The Income Assistance program is a component of Canada's social safety net meant to align with provincial and the Yukon income assistance programs. The objective of the program is to ensure that eligible individuals and families residing on reserve receive funds to cover the basic expenses of daily living, special needs, as well as pre-employment services designed to help them transition to the workforce.
- the basic and special needs of clients and their dependents on reserves and Yukon
- access to services to help clients transition to and remain in the workforce
3. Expected outcomes
The expected results of this program are that:
- men, women and children have access to supports to meet their basic and special needs
- men and women have access to supports that help them to transition to and remain in the workforce
- men and women are employable and able to become or remain attached to the workforce
4. Funding recipients
A "funding recipient" means an individual or entity that has met the eligibility criteria of the program and has signed a funding agreement with ISC to deliver an initiative (program, service or activity).
4.1 Eligibility criteria
Eligible recipients who can deliver the Income Assistance program include:
- chiefs and councils of First Nations bands recognized by the Government of Canada
- tribal councils
- provinces or Yukon Territory
- Indigenous communities and organizations
- political or treaty organizations
5. Program recipients (clients)
An eligible program recipient is referred to as "client" throughout this document. A client is a person who ultimately receives the benefit of programs or services funded by the Income Assistance program.
5.1 Eligibility requirements
For purposes of confirming the eligibility for Income Assistance benefits, the client must demonstrate that he or she:
- is ordinarily resident on reserve or Status First Nations living in the Yukon Territory
- is eligible for basic or special financial assistance (as defined by the province of residence or Yukon territory and confirmed by an assessment covering employability, family composition and age, and financial resources available to the household)
- has no other source of funding to meet basic needs and therefore, requires income support under the Income Assistance program
For the purpose of providing the on reserve Income Assistance program and services, "ordinarily resident" means that a client:
- lives on reserve and does not maintain a primary residence off reserve
- 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 the Income Assistance program, "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).
A student who is registered and attending a secondary or post-secondary education or training program and is receiving education funding from the federal government, a band or Indigenous organization continues to be considered ordinarily resident on reserve if he or she:
- maintains a residence on reserve
- is a dependent of a family that maintains a primary residence on reserve
- 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
- meets the student eligibility requirements in the reference province or Yukon Territory
A student receiving post-secondary student support program funding can only be considered eligible for Income Assistance under exceptional circumstances as determined by reference to the provincial or territorial standards of the province or territory in which the reserve (of which the student is a member) is located.
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 or programs. Children out of the parental home are eligible to be funded as determined by reference to the provincial or the Yukon standards of the province or Yukon in which the reserve (where the child lives) is located.
Clients must also meet the qualifying requirements of the reference province or Yukon Territory of residence, including an assessment covering all of the following:
- financial need (income and assets)
- family composition and age
- financial resources available to the client's household
Clients must confirm that they have not applied and do not receive any Income Assistance from any other source.
Clients must provide all information necessary to confirm that the eligibility requirements have been met and that the information provided in their application is accurate.
Child out of the parental home
Once a child receives supports as a child out of the parental home through child and family services, they cease to qualify for supports through the Income Assistance program.
5.2 Members of specified communities
Specified communities: members of non-reserve communities or land-less Indian bands that are eligible to receive the Income Assistance program supports and services.
The following is a list of specified communities whose residents are deemed eligible for ISC funded on-reserve Income Assistance program supports and services based on unique circumstances.
- Kitcisakik - Canton de Hamon
- Long Point First Nation - Winneway
- Pakua Shipi - Saint Augustin
- MaïganAkik - Barriere Lake
- Marcel Colomb Cree - Lynn Lake
- Mathias Colomb Cree Nation - Granville Lake
- O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation - South Indian Lake
- War Lake First Nation - Ilford
- Fox Lake First Nation - Gillam
- Ocean Man
- Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation - Ft. Chipewyan
- Mikisew Cree First Nation - Fort Chipewyan
- Little Red River Cree Nation - Garden River
- Lubicon Lake Band - Little Buffalo
- Peerless Trout First Nation
- Tsay Keh Dene First Nation - Ingenika Band
- Old Massett Village Council
- Lax Kw'alaams
- Lake Babine Nation
- Wet'suwet'en First Nation - Bromon Lake
5.3 Minimum required documentation for funding recipients
Notwithstanding the minimum documentation requirements identified in this section, there may be additional ISC, provincial or territorial requirements as per the recipient funding agreement or written notification to the recipient. Funding recipients shall ensure that all the documentation requirements are met.
Administrators must take all necessary steps and precautions to verify information and require supporting documentation to ensure that eligible services are only provided to eligible clients.
Funding decisions require that the administrator collect and keep information that supports the eligibility of the expenditures and the management of an applicant's and a client's circumstances.
- Documentation to support a requirement for Income Assistance support must be kept by the funding recipient in the client case file
- Eligibility is an ongoing requirement, and files must be maintained and regularly updated to confirm a client's ongoing eligibility to receive Income Assistance
When, by exception, documentation related to a requirement is not available, a record of ongoing efforts to obtain the documentation or an explanation of why it cannot be obtained must always be clearly outlined in the file. The note should include the date, person spoken to and details of the conversation to support the exception.
The application form must be completed in full by the potential Income Assistance client and must contain:
- the name of each person in the family
- the date of birth (DOB) for each person in the family: merely listing ages is not be acceptable
- signatures of the client and dependent spouse, dated as per ISC's formats and procedures
- a declaration, signed and dated by the client and dependent spouse, that the information provided is accurate to the best of the client's knowledge
- an authorization to release information to verify the eligibility of the client signed by both the client and dependent spouse
- a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) for the client and dependent spouse (as required by the reference province or territory)
- a T5007 (Statement of Benefits) Form should be issued to clients to apply for tax based benefits such as the Canada child benefit (CCB)
If the client has not provided the SIN and requires additional time to obtain it, the file documentation must demonstrate that the client is actively pursuing the missing SIN. After 60 days, the client is considered ineligible. Exceptions beyond the 60 days should be evaluated on a case by case basis to ensure that the client is actively seeking a SIN but that exceptional and unique circumstances have delayed the receipt of it.
Client and dependent spouse
A copy of one piece of valid photo identification issued by the government (federal, provincial or territorial) or a signed attestation by the administrator stating that they have verified the identity of the potential client and dependent spouse must be placed on the case file by the administrator.
Any other dependents
A copy of one identification document or a signed attestation by the administrator stating they verified the dependent's identification, must be placed on the case file by the administrator for all dependents.
The following identification documents may be presented as acceptable proof of identity for each dependent:
- one piece of valid photo identification issued by the government (federal, provincial or territorial)
- certificate of live birth
- school records
- report cards
- school identification
- Canada child benefit
- tax assessment
- verification of the family composition from the Indian Registry Administrator or the Nation's Band Membership Department
- status card
Financial needs assessment
A clear demonstration of financial needs is required on file by the Administrator and must include:
- all of the supporting documentation for the client and their dependent spouse at the time of approval of benefits
- completed and signed budget and decision forms as per ISC's procedures
- documentation showing amounts received from Employment Insurance (EI) or demonstrating that the client and dependent spouse are not eligible for benefits
- documentation showing amounts received for Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Old Age Security (OAS) or Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or demonstrating that the client or dependent spouse is not eligible for benefits (when it appears that the client or dependent spouse could be eligible for one or more of these benefits)
- current bank account statements (if client or dependent spouse has a bank account)
- current and complete income tax assessment that shows total income and deductions (if client or dependent spouse has filed a tax return)
- the application for maintenance enforcement as per ISC's procedures
Documentation is required to verify that the client is ordinarily resident on reserve prior to issuing benefits.
When no documentation can be obtained, a band council resolution verifying the client's residency on reserve may be accepted by ISC. However, documentation must be on file indicating that other methods of verifying residency have been exhausted.
Employability and education
The case file must identify the highest educational attainment of the client, as well as any trades training or other special skills that the client possesses.
Hardship or emergency supports
Hardship or emergency supports may be available as an interim measure in accordance with provincial or territorial requirements. Documentation on file must be in accordance with the provincial or territorial requirements in order to demonstrate client eligibility for hardship or emergency supports.
The Income Assistance program has 4 components which provide the following:
- funds to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter (utilities and rent)
- special needs allowances for goods and services essential to the physical or social well-being of a client
- employment and pre-employment supports
- funding for service delivery, which is funding provided by DISC to funding recipients to enable them to administer the on reserve Income Assistance program
For employment and pre-employment services, eligible activities for funding recipients are set out in the funding recipients approved work plan or approved proposal.
In accordance with program authorities, funding recipients are provided with funding to cover specific costs related to the following items to support Income Assistance clients and their dependents.
Eligible expenditures for basic and special needs are determined by reference to the provincial or Yukon Territory standards of the province or Yukon Territory in which the reserve is located and must be equivalent to those of the province or Yukon Territory. These eligible expenditures may include funding for:
- food allowance including special diets
- clothing allowance including children's winter and school clothing
- shelter allowance (rent and utilities), in accordance with the National Directive on the Administration of Shelter Allowance to Income Assistance Clients On-Reserve
- personal incidentals
- essential household items
- transportation (non-medical) and moving costs
- funeral and burial costs (not to exceed $3,500.00) and, when necessary, costs to repatriate the remains of a deceased person (not to exceed $6,000.00) by rail, air or vehicle transport
Medical or health services are to be provided by Health Canada (such as non-insured health benefits) or by the province in which a reserve is located or Yukon Territory.
Employment and pre-employment eligible expenditures are determined by reference to the provincial or Yukon Territory standards in which the reserve is located. These eligible expenditures may include funding for:
- child care and accommodation costs
- transportation and equipment costs
- employment-related relocation costs
- career and job-seeking skills counselling
Employment and pre-employment financial assistance eligible expenditures are determined by reference to the provincial or Yukon Territory standards in which the reserve is located and must be equivalent to those of the province or Yukon Territory. These eligible costs may include funding for:
- training allowance
- wage subsidy associated with work experience
- transfers to employers, other institutions and governments for training and employment services (for example, Work Opportunity Program, Aboriginal Social Assistance Recipient Employment Training, Job Corps)
Service delivery and administrative costs directly attributable to program and service delivery. These eligible costs may include funding for:
- salaries, wages and benefits
- travel, transportation, accommodation
- training and professional development
- office supplies
- instructional and information materials
- office equipment
- computer systems
- printing and professional services
- data collection and management activities required for program monitoring, planning, reporting and evaluation
- maintenance and upgrading of systems
- 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
- funding to support the development of operational policy guidelines and projects to encourage local integration or aggregation of services (for example, management control framework, aggregation models, income support and labour market programs) for more effective delivery and administration of the programs
For Employment and pre-employment services, eligible program expenditures are set out in the approved work plan or proposal referred to in the funding agreement.
Child out of the parental home
Eligible expenditures pertaining to a child out of the parental home, for purposes of Income Assistance, are according to the provincial or territorial guidelines and do not include a child taken into care under child and family services.
Eligible expenditures pertaining to a child out of the parental home should not result in a duplication of payments or services (for example, the child is counted for Income Assistance benefits while receiving supports through child and family services).
8.1 Maximum amount of funding
The maximum amount of funding to be provided to a funding recipient in a fiscal year is set out in the funding agreement signed by the funding recipient.
8.2 Stacking limits and duplication of funding
The maximum funding that will be provided to a funding recipient by ISC are 100% of the eligible costs associated with a particular program (activity, initiative or project) to be funded.
A funding recipient is required to declare any and all sources of funding for the program that are expected to be received or that are received, including all funding from the Government of Canada and from provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. Annual financial reporting must show all sources of funding received.
Provision for repayment will be made when ISC's contribution is in excess of $100,000 and when funding from all sources exceeds eligible expenditures. Funding recipients must provide ISC with information showing the amount to be repaid and the basis for calculating that amount. The reimbursement should be proportionate to ISC's contribution, expressed as a percentage of the total funding obtained by the funding recipient from all government sources for that program.
9. Reporting requirements and monitoring and oversight activities
9.1 The reporting requirements (program and financial reports) and their respective due dates are listed in the recipient's funding agreement and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide.
9.2 All funding recipient reporting requirements are subject to monitoring and oversight activities to determine the accuracy of the information provided to ISC.
10. Personal information
10.1 ISC's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of program compliance reviews will be limited to what is necessary to ensure program delivery requirements are met, in accordance with the Privacy Act.
10.2 ISC is responsible for all information and records in its possession. The confidentiality of the information will be managed by ISC in accordance with the Privacy Act and other related policies on privacy. Funding recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information per the privacy legislation, regulations and/or policies that govern them up to the point that it is transferred to ISC.
10.3 Funding recipients shall develop and implement by-laws, policies and procedures to protect personal information, collected in the course of complying with the program delivery requirements, from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.
11.1 ISC is committed to providing assistance to recipients in order for them to effectively carry out obligations set out in this document and funding agreements.
ISC has a responsibility to:
- provide funding to funding recipients as authorized by approved policy and program authorities
- lead the development of policy and provide policy clarification to funding recipients
- provide oversight to ensure programs operate according to authorities and Canada's financial management requirements, by ensuring that reporting and accountability requirements are met
11.2 Funding recipients must deliver the programs in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and the program delivery requirements outlined in this document while also ensuring that the necessary management controls are in place to manage funding and monitor activities. Funding recipients are required to exercise due diligence when approving expenditures and must ensure that such expenditures are in accordance with the eligible expenditures set out in this document.
Funding recipients have a responsibility to ensure that program administrators are properly trained and possess the skills and knowledge to deliver the programs.
12. Official languages
Funding recipients have a responsibility to provide access to services in both English and French where there is significant demand and Part IV of the Official Languages Act is applicable.
13. Intellectual property
Where a grant is provided for the development of material in which copyright subsides, 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 subsides, conditions for shared rights will be set out in the funding agreement.
14.1 For the purposes of this document, the definitions in the Indian Act and the Funding Agreement apply.
14.2 Additional definitions necessary to interpret the delivery requirements and standards set out in this document include:
- age of majority: the age at which a person is granted the rights and responsibilities of an adult in accordance with provincial or Yukon Territory legislation
- authorities: ISC funding and program authorities received from Treasury Board
- child: a person under the age of majority in the relevant province or territory
15. Contact information
The regional offices coordinates can be found on the Regional offices page.
You can also write to:
Céline Hurtubise, Manager, Income Assistance
Indigenous Services Canada
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
16. Related links
For further program information, visit Social Programs.