We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusJan. 10, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusDec. 5, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress”?

April 19, 2021 – Budget 2021invests $1,188M over 5 years with 181.8M ongoing funding across three priority areas: COVID-19 support, funding mechanisms and First Nations control over education and adult education.

Jan. 21, 2019 – Government response is primarily focused on education funding but does announce a distinctions-based funding approach to strategy development specific to First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

On April 1, 2019 Indigenous Services Canada began implementing their new approach to funding Indigenous elementary and post-secondary education using formula-based regional models that are more comparable to provincial funding models. The distinctions-based approach is designed to address the unique needs of each Indigenous group to decrease the gaps in education and ultimately in employment.

The government response also provides details on the newly revised (and renamed) Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Program.

Federal Commitments to Education in 2021

Fiscal year2021-222022-232023-242024-252025-26TotalsOngoing
Budget 2021$270M$177M$227M$247M$267M$1,188M$181.8M
% of $1,188M22.7%14.9%19.1%20.8%22.5%100%
Federal Budget Investments

Budget 2016 Facts and Figures

Budget 2016 includes $2.6 billion over five years for First Nations K-12 education towards primary and secondary education on reserve to address immediate pressures, keep pace with rising costs and also invest in literacy and numeracy programs and special needs education:

  • $747.6 million to address immediate funding needs and program growth
  • $275 million to support First Nations language and culture
  • $577.5 million to support students with special needs
  • $100 million to support literacy and numeracy
  • $824.1 million to implement transformation in First Nations education
  • $37.5 million to support innovation, research, measurement and evaluation
  • $30 million to support the Martin Family Initiative’s partnerships with First Nations to improve literacy rate

Also:

  • $969.4M over 5 years for construction, maintenance and repairs of First Nations education facilities
  • $1.53B over 5 years to increase Canada Student Grants and $329M per year after that. Other changes will increase the amount of non-repayable Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans that Indigenous students may receive
Budget 2017 Facts and Figures:
  • $90 million over two years, beginning in 2017–2018, for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program 
  • $100 million for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy Skills Link and Summer Work Experience program
  • $5 million per year for five years, starting in 2017–2018, for Indspire, a national Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous people, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector.
Budget 2018 Facts and Figures:

Budget 2018 proposes to invest $2 billion over five years, and $408.2 million per year ongoing, to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, which will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Extensive engagement took place with Indigenous partners in 2016 and 2017 to develop a proposal for future labour market programming. The Government of Canada has consulted with, and heard from, Indigenous partners on the importance of a distinctions-based approach that recognizes the unique needs of the First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation. To that end, the new program will provide:

  • $1.1 billion over five years, and $235.7 million per year ongoing, for a First Nations stream
  • $325 million over five years, and $67 million per year ongoing, for a Métis Nation stream 
  • $161.2 million over five years, and $32.6 million per year ongoing, for an Inuit stream 
  • $213.4 million over five years, and $45.2 million per year ongoing, for an urban/non-affiliated stream
Budget 2019 Facts and Figures:

$815 million over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, and $61.8 million ongoing in support of Indigenous post-secondary education. This includes:

  • $327.5 million over 5 years to support First Nations post-secondary students and the development of regional education strategies
  • $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million ongoing to support an Inuit-led post-secondary strategy
  • $362.0 million over 10 years and $40 million ongoing to support a Métis-Nation strategy
Budget 2021 Facts and Figures

$1.2B over five years and $181.8 million ongoing, including:

  • $112 million in 2021-22 to extend COVID-19 support so children on reserve can continue to attend school safely, including PPE for students and staff, laptops to support online learning, and more teachers and other critical staff.
  • $726 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $181.8 million ongoing, t:
    • enhance funding formulas in critical areas such as student transportation;
    • ensure funding for First Nations schools remains predictable from year to year; and
    • increase First Nations control over First Nations education by concluding more Regional Education Agreements.
  • $350 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, to expand access to adult education by supporting First Nations people on reserve who wish to return to high school in their communities and complete their high school education.
Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Program

Designed to help Indigenous Peoples in all parts of the country get the skills and training they need to fully participate in the economy and contribute to the success of their communities. Previously called The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS). Budget 2017 proposes to invest $50 million in 2017–18 in ASETS, which includes new funding, the investment made in Budget 2016, as well as additional reallocated resources from other programming that support skills and training more generally. These investments will provide ASETS service providers with added capacity to meet the growing demand from Indigenous Peoples for skills development and job training. 

Budgets 2016 and 2017 committed to renew and expand the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy beyond March 31, 2018. Budget 2018 proposes to invest $2 billion over five years, and $408.2 million per year ongoing, to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program to replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy.

First Nations stream$1.1 billion over five years and $235.7 million per year ongoing
Métis Nation stream$325 million over five years, and $67 million per year ongoing
Inuit stream$161.2 million over five years, and $32.6 million per year ongoing, for an Inuit stream 
Urban/non-affiliated stream$213.4 million over five years, and $45.2 million per year ongoing
The 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report

The High School Graduation data is from StatsCAN: “% of First Nations, Métis and Inuit aged 25-64 by selected levels of education attainment“. The “Degree/Diploma and Unemployment Rate” are from the Indigenous Economic Progress Report 2019

Quality Education Backgrounder – January 23, 2018: Ministry of Indigenous Services

Current Challenges

  • Gaps in graduation rates – about 44% of First Nations on-reserve (age 18-24) have completed high school, compared to 88% for other Canadians
  • Challenges to accessing post-secondary education opportunities
  • Significant infrastructure needs for school construction, repair and maintenance on reserveGaps in graduation rates – about 44% of First Nations on-reserve (age 18-24) have completed high school, compared to 88% for other Canadians

The Path Forward

  • Higher graduation rates and positive career outcomes for Indigenous Students
  • Substantive equity in education
  • Culturally appropriate curriculum
  • First Nations control of First Nations education

Points of Progress since November 2015 (AFN response)

Budget 2016 included $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on reserve. This includes funding to address immediate needs and to keep pace with cost growth over the medium term, as well as investments in language and cultural programming and literacy and numeracy. See C2A # 8

  1. 140 First Nation education projects are completed or underway. These projects, ranging from school repairs to the building of new schools, benefit more than 120 First Nation communities and 176,000 people.
  2. Historic Anishinabek Education Agreement transferring K-12 education jurisdiction to 23 Ontario First Nation communities comprising 25,000 people and 2,000 students.
    • Aug. 16, 2017 – The Anishinabek Nation communities have long sought the authority to educate their children—their way. I am pleased that the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement is finalized. This will provide the foundation of strength, hope, pride, and academic excellence for our children for generations to come.” Grand Council Chief Patrick Wedaseh Madahbee, Anishinabek Nation
  3. First ever co-developed Memorandum to Cabinet between Federal Government and Assembly of First Nations on K-12 education transformation approved at December Special Chiefs Assembly.
    • There are four major outcomes of the draft MC on First Nations education funding:
      • Supporting First Nations, through funded regional tables, to negotiate and conclude regional “First Nation Education Agreements.” The agreements will include an education funding model designed by First Nations based on the unique needs of their students, communities and schools (starting in 2018-19). First Nations can define “regions” for themselves as an individual First Nation, a language group, a school board model, a Tribal Council-style entity, a Treaty-based approach, or any other suitable grouping. The new MC will move away from the government’s push to try and force aggregation on our education systems and our governments.
      • Unlocking the remaining funding committed in federal budget 2016 for “Transforming First Nation Education” (approximately $665 million). Currently, this is limited to school board funding. The new MC will unlock this amount and combine it with the total budget commitments for First Nations education, which will then be available to all First Nations, with a priority for those that need it most (starting in 2018-19).
      • Replacing INAC’s outdated, inequitable and inadequate federal education funding programs with regional education approaches and funding models that provide sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding (starting 2019-20).
      • The MC will signal the intention of First Nations to develop a supplementary budget ask for the 2019 Federal Budget that will identify the funding required to conclude regional education agreements and meet the needs for First Nation students (over and above the $2.3 billion committed in 2016).
    • Sept. 25, 2018 – AFN Bulletin on Regional Education Agreements for First Nations Education K-12,
      • This work and advocacy by First Nations, working together with the AFN, have resulted in a new approach to the funding of First Nations K-12 education driven by First Nations and aimed at respecting First Nation control of First Nation education. The new approach opens the door for work at the regional level to refine, adapt and improve formula-based funding models to better respond to unique student needs and cost-drivers, as defined by local First Nations. It will also create greater funding equity, support local diversity and increase transparency of the federal funding approach.
      • The new approach is based on regional funding agreements (Regional Education Agreements or REAs) designed by First Nations. REAs will provide First Nations with the flexibility to distribute education funding within their region as they see fit to support the specific needs of their students, schools and nation. A “region” is defined as any territory where First Nations choose to implement First Nation control of First Nation education and negotiate a REA. Each “region” will be determined by First Nations and may be linked to geographic location, mutual goals or similar circumstances. This could include, but not be limited to, a territory defined as a single First Nation, Tribal Council, Treaty affiliation, language family, or an entire province. For Treaty First Nations, only Treaty people will speak on behalf of Treaties.
      • Key aspects to REAs include greater sufficiency, more predictability and strengthened First Nation control. Greater sufficiency comes from unlocking commitments made in the 2016 federal budget ($665M), which includes additional funding for language and culture, and full-time kindergarten at First Nations schools. New formula-based, regional funding models will ensure First Nation students are supported by predictable base funding, and First Nation education organizations will rely less on proposal-based funding and more on targeted multi-year funding. Regional technical tables will support the implementation of the new regional funding approach to develop REAs that respond to First Nations’ goals and priorities.
      • First Nations interested in pursuing a REA can confirm a mandate from their members and/or leadership to enter into REA discussions. There will be no proposals to access funding, but regions must submit a vision, work plan and budget on their plan to design, develop and implement the REA. REAs will have common components:
        1. Comprehensive funding arrangements, covering all federal support for First Nations elementary and secondary education;
        2. Clear and defined roles and responsibilities for First Nations and First Nation education organizations, including applicable service standards;
        3. Mutual accountability mechanisms with clear objectives, performance indicators and reporting expectations for both the Government of Canada and First Nation education system participants; and
        4. Responsibilities for working with provincial education systems to manage the costs associated with on-reserve students who attend provincial schools and for reporting from provincial school divisions to First Nations and the Government of Canada.
  4. Manitoba First Nations School System officially started operation in July 2017. Approximately 1,700 students from 10 communities will receive educational services and support services from this newly formed system.
    • Dec. 6, 2019 – Release of the 2018-19 Annual report: “Community and student engagement are priorities for the success of the MFNSS. The school system has supported events that engage students in their own communities’ culture, history, and traditions,” said Nora Murdock, Ph.D., Director of Instructional Services. “The school system is in its third year of operation, and the ongoing development and growth of MFNSS continues.” With respect for First Nations control, treaty, and inherent rights, MFNSS supports schools to improve the quality of education, enhance academic standards, and, ultimately, increase student outcomes, including retention, completion, and graduation rates. “MFNSS has made significant strides in developing an education system reflective of First Nations world views, cultures, and values,” said Lorne C. Keeper, Executive Director of the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre. “Through our new direction, I am convinced we will reach, even exceed, the long-term goals we have set for ourselves as a First Nations-run school system.”
    • Oct. 11, 2017 – The Manitoba First Nations School system made its debut with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a song by Grade 2 to Grade 4 students at Sgt. Tommy Prince School on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, about 65 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre will run the new school division and, under the agreement, each participating First Nation’s education funding will go directly from the federal government to the new school board. Ten per cent of it will cover administrative fees, and the rest will be spent based on decisions made with each community, officials said when the deal was announced last year. “It’s important that First Nations have control of our systems with proper funding,” said Lorne Keeper, the executive director of the resource centre. She said the partnership will create a new, culturally relevant, high quality education system — a plan that has been in the making since the early 1970s.
  5. Increased funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the University and College Entrance Preparation Program by $90 million over two years, beginning in 2017–18.
    • See C2A # 11 for updates
  6. The federal government is undertaking a comprehensive and collaborative review of all current federal supports for Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education.
    • See C2A # 11 for updates

Approximately 107,000 First Nations children are benefiting from the Government of Canada’s Budget 2016 investment in on-reserve Kindergarten to grade 12 education.Over 4,600 Indigenous students will be benefiting from the Government of Canada’s increased funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the University and College Entrance Preparation Program.

https://www.canada.ca/en/indigenous-services-canada/news/2018/01/quality_education.html

Métis Nation Accord Annex: Employment and Training

The Parties agree to work together to develop the next phase of Indigenous labour market programming. This will include exploring a multi-year Métis Nation-specific approach to and/or Accord in support of a renewed Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) or its successor strategy. Discussions will focus on important labour market elements including a discussion of issues related to youth, child care, labour market information, partnerships, governance, resources and mutual accountabilities.

The Parties will also discuss ways to strengthening Métis participation in the Strategic Partnership Fund as well as other Indigenous and non-Indigenous supports directed at improving the labour market conditions of Métis.

Progress-to-Date

June 15, 2018 – Métis Nation Skills and Employment Accord supports employment services, skills development, and job training. The Métis Nation Skills and Employment Accord marks the first sub-accord under the Canada-Métis Nation Accord signed by the Prime Minister and Métis Nation leadership in 2017. Budget 2018 provides for $625,369,476 over 10 years for the Métis Nation stream of the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program which

Sept. 21, 2018 – Building on the priorities outlined in the Accord, the Leaders and Ministers agreed that skills and employment training would be one of the three areas in need of urgent action and investment. Ministers recognize the considerable work the Métis Nation has undertaken which has enabled it to provide its recommendations to Canada for next steps in this area. The Métis Nation provided Canada with proposals and draft companion accords, and the Leaders and Ministers had a detailed discussion on their implications. The Ministers and Leaders discussed draft accords in Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training (ASETS) and instructed officials to continue work in advancing these documents with the goal of finalizing accords once both parties have completed their respective approval processes.

Métis Nation Accord Annex: Education

K to 12:

In conjunction with outcomes of the exploratory tables, the Parties will explore the need for and approaches to establishing linkages and cultural supports for Métis Nation students (K to 12) to improve their educational outcomes. The discussions at the national level will include an examination of current data on educational outcomes, identification of promising practices, and the level and supports for unique curriculum development to enhance educational outcomes. The discussions could include the need to develop better tracking mechanisms and the need for better intergovernmental protocols on Métis education (K to 12). The Parties will engage with representatives of provinces for these discussions.

Progress-to-Date

Feb, 2018 – The Government of Canada contributed $450K towards education priorities under the Canada-Métis Nation Accord, most of which went towards the Métis Nation Education Conference

Inuit Education and Employment

July 8, 2019 – Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program (ISET) will continue to offer federal funding to help Indigenous people develop and enhance skills that will ultimately improve opportunities for finding employment or starting new businesses. Of the $2 billion over five years identified in the 2018 budget, $161.2 million over five years has been earmarked for Inuit specific ISET programs. The Inuit agencies previously identified as recipients of the program funding include:

  • Kativik Regional Government
  • Nunatsiavut Government
  • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
  • Kakivak Association
  • Kitikmeot Inuit Association
  • Kivalliq Inuit Association and
  • Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) in Ottawa.
    • As the population continues to leave Inuit Nunangat and relocate into the Ottawa and Ontario region, it is very clear that our current base funding is completely inadequate to support the current population of Ontario Inuit. As data collection on the Inuit population in the south continues, we are talking upwards of 40% of the total Inuit population in Canada that now reside in the south. The fact that no additional monies will be allocated to TI means we cannot serve the community in Ottawa and Ontario that requires this much needed funding.
    • Once the five-year term is completed, the government stated that there is a promise of ongoing funding of $32.6 million per year for Inuit specific programs. All funding is locked in for ten years. Which means as the Inuit population increases in the south, there will be no new money to service the skills and training needs. Inuit living away from communities are already vulnerable and TI provides many of the services and programs they use in Ontario. The lack of direct funding will further marginalize the Inuit of Ontario.

Table: Inuit Statistical Profile, 2018. Inuit Tapariit Kanatami

Office of the Auditor General Spring Report – 2018

Report 6: Employment Training for Indigenous People—Employment and Social Development Canada

Program Results – April 2015 – December 2017

Employment and Social Development Canada did not collect the necessary data or define performance indicators as needed to determine whether its training programs met their overall objective

Overall message

6.16      Overall, we found that Employment and Social Development Canada did not collect the data or define the performance indicators necessary to demonstrate whether the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy and the Skills and Partnership Fund were meeting their common overall objective of increasing the number of Indigenous people who had sustainable and meaningful employment. This is despite the fact that the Department has been delivering programs to support Indigenous employment for almost 30 years.

6.17      We also found that the Department allocated funding to agreement holders under the Strategy primarily on the basis of data from 1996 that did not reflect the current needs of the populations served. Moreover, the Department did not reallocate funding to the individual agreement holders who had been more consistently successful in training clients and helping them get jobs.

6.18      These findings matter because unemployment rates for Indigenous people are markedly higher than for the general Canadian population. The Department has allocated significant funds to the programs. Collecting adequate data and defining performance indicators would allow the Department to determine whether the programs are leading to meaningful and sustainable employment and whether changes are needed.

Program Management

The Department supported agreement holders to deliver services but did not provide sufficient labour market information.

Overall Message

6.60      Overall, we found that Employment and Social Development Canada supported agreement holders by providing them with guidance, information sessions, and administrative direction. It also worked with agreement holders to reduce their administrative burden. However, the Department did not provide agreement holders with sufficient labour market information to help them determine which services they should provide to clients to help them prepare for and find available jobs.

6.61      We also found that the Department did not consistently monitor agreement holders to know whether they fulfilled their obligations under contribution agreements. In particular, the Department did not ensure that agreement holders adequately monitored the other Indigenous organizations with which they had sub-agreements to provide services to clients on their behalf.

6.62      These findings matter because agreement holders need good labour market information to help them determine which services to provide to clients. Moreover, consistent monitoring of agreement holders can help the Department understand how it could further support agreement holders to deliver services.

Source: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201805_06_e_43038.html#p46

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

Budget 2016 provided new investments in primary and secondary education on reserve, totaling $2.6 billion over 5 years. This includes funding to address immediate pressures and to keep pace with rising costs in the medium term, as well as provide for additional investments in literacy and numeracy programs and special needs education.

Building on this investment, on April 1, 2019, Indigenous Services Canada began implementing a new approach to First Nations elementary and secondary education, which was co-developed with First Nations education leaders and experts from across the country. This approach includes new formula-based regional models for First Nations education that will ensure that students attending First Nations schools are supported by predictable and sustained base funding that is more directly comparable to what students enrolled in provincial systems receive. On top of this base funding, this new approach will provide additional funding to on-reserve schools for language and culture programming and full-time kindergarten for children aged 4 and 5.

Budget 2016 invested $969.4 million over 5 years for the construction, repair and maintenance of First Nations education facilities. With respect to post-secondary education, Budget 2016 provided $1.53 billion over 5 years to increase amounts of the Canada Student Grants and $329 million per year after that. Budget 2016 also announced that funding provided by the Post-Secondary Student Support Program will no longer impact eligibility for the Canada Student Loans Program’s non-repayable grants and loans support. As a result, Indigenous students can access both student funding programs as long as they meet eligibility criteria. This measure will increase the amount of non-repayable Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans that Indigenous students may receive.

Budget 2017 provided:

  • $90 million over 2 years, beginning in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program
  • $100 million for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy Skills Link and Summer Work Experience program
  • $5 million per year for 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for Indspire, a national Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous peoples, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector 

The Government of Canada undertook a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review is to ensure that these programs provide Indigenous students with the resources and support they need to attend and complete post-secondary studies.

Building on this engagement, Budget 2019 announced $815 million over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, and $61.8 million ongoing in support of Indigenous post-secondary education. This includes:

  • $327.5 million over 5 years to support First Nations post-secondary students and the development of regional education strategies
  • $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million ongoing to support an Inuit-led post-secondary strategy
  • $362.0 million over 10 years and $40 million ongoing to support a Métis-Nation strategy

Budgets 2016 and 2017 committed to renew and expand the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy beyond March 31, 2018. Budget 2018 announced $2 billion over 5 years and $408.2 million per year ongoing, to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, which will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Extensive engagement took place with Indigenous partners in 2016 and 2017 to develop a proposal for future labour market programming. The Government of Canada has consulted with, and heard from, Indigenous partners on the importance of a distinctions-based approach that recognizes the unique needs of the First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation. To that end, the new program will provide:

  • $1.1 billion over 5 years and $235.7 million per year ongoing, for a First Nations stream
  • $325 million over 5 years and $67 million per year ongoing, for a Métis Nation stream
  • $161.2 million over 5 years and $32.6 million per year ongoing, for an Inuit stream
  • $213.4 million over 5 years and $45.2 million per year ongoing, for an urban or non-affiliated stream

Work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations and service providers to ensure all Indigenous people have access to the skills development and employment training they need to fully participate in the Canadian economy will continue.