Indigenous Services Canada Departmental Plan

Plans at a Glance


ISC has 5 interconnected priority areas to continue to focus on in 2020-21. In delivering on these 5 key priorities, with full partnership with Indigenous communities, ISC’s ultimate goal is ensuring that the design, delivery and control of services are led by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous peoples.

Keeping Children and Families Together

The over-representation of First Nations, Inuit and Metis children in the child and family services system has been described as a humanitarian crisis. According to Census 2016, Indigenous children aged 0 to 14 make up 7.7% of all Canadian children, yet represent 52.2% of children in foster care. Ensuring that children and families stay together is a top priority for the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada is working in close collaboration with Indigenous partners, provinces, and territories to address the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada. This includes ongoing work to fully implement the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and to pursue measures to reform child and family services so that Indigenous peoples are able to design and control the delivery of culturally-appropriate child and family services in their communities.

ISC is building upon its engagements with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities and organizations to support the reform of Indigenous child and family services and is focused on successfully implementing this legislation which includes allocating long-term, predictable and sustainable funding to support child and family services.

Supporting Quality Education

Education is crucial to closing the socio-economic gap between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. The gap in educational attainment and access to culturally-relevant social support makes it difficult for Indigenous peoples to fully contribute to, and fully benefit from participation in Canada’s economy and society, and perpetuates socio-economic inequities between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians. ISC is working with Indigenous partners to ensure that Indigenous students have access to a high-quality education that will improve student outcomes, such as graduation rates. In order to further advance access to quality education, ISC will be:

  • Continuing to implement a jointly-developed policy framework for elementary and secondary First Nations on reserve education on reserve and establish regionally-driven approaches that strengthen First Nations education. The framework improves the way ISC funds First Nations elementary and secondary education by funding First Nation schools comparable to provincial schools and supporting expanded language and cultural programming and full-day kindergarten. Through this approach, regional funding has seen increases of up to 39%.
  • Implementing new jointly-developed distinctions-based post-secondary education strategies to support increased access and enable greater success in post-secondary education for First Nations, Inuit and M?tis Nation students. This includes expanding financial assistance for First Nations students and supporting First Nations in the development of regional post-secondary education models. ISC will also support new Inuit and M?tis Nation-led strategies by providing funding for students as well as complementary programs and services to strengthen governance capacity.
  • Developing and implementing regional education agreements and other First Nations-led education models that respond to the education goals and priorities set by First Nations and respect the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education. This will include continued investments in institutional capacity building, research, and innovation as well as strengthened partnerships between First Nations and provincial and territorial education systems. 
  • Continue participating in the process of modernizing the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy under the broader Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to better promote access to skills and work experience for Indigenous youth. This will be informed by the results of the Employment and Social Development Canada-led engagement process with Indigenous partners.

Improving Health Outcomes

Significant gaps persist in the overall health status of Indigenous peoples compared to non-Indigenous peoples. Ensuring access to responsive health services, an interdisciplinary healthcare work force, and safe and modern health infrastructure are fundamental to sustainable and effective health systems. Increased ownership, control and management of health services are the foundation for closing gaps in health outcomes. 

ISC works with First Nations and Inuit partners to address health inequities by increasing access to quality health services, by responding to the social determinants of health and by enhancing mental wellness services, including addictions treatment and prevention services. We will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to improve health outcomes by:

  • Initiating the co-development of distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with Indigenous partners. 
  • Continuing to invest in the delivery of high-quality health care for all Indigenous peoples. 
  • Fully implementing Jordan’s Principle to ensure that First Nations children have access to the health, social, and educational supports and services that they need, when and where they need them, while co-developing a longer-term approach with First Nations.
  • Advancing a long-term care continuum with First Nations meant to maximize the linkages between community, provincial or territorial services, including the needs of individuals who age out of Jordan’s Principle, a similar consideration for Inuit under the Inuit Child First Initiative.
  • Continue to develop strategies to improve retention and recruitment of nurses working on reserve through focused efforts at enhancing clinical and infrastructure support.
  • Continuing to support Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national representative body for Inuit, and regional Inuit land claims organizations, including the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services in lieu of the Makivik Corporation in Nunavik.
  • Completing the joint review of the Medical Transportation benefit under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program to achieve significant increases in access for First Nations and Inuit.
  • Investing in the mental wellness continuum to support strengths-based programming. 
  • Improving the accessibility of services for remote communities by working towards developing evidence-informed standards for some remote/isolated communities, as well as developing a 5 to 10-year plan for accessing pharmacy services and medication management in remote and isolated First Nations communities.

Building Reliable Infrastructure

Reliable infrastructure is a foundation for improving quality of life and socio-economic outcomes in other key priority areas for every community. The Government of Canada is working with First Nations, Inuit and M?tis Nation partners to co-develop distinct infrastructure strategies that will support their vision of self-determination and lead to better social and economic outcomes for their communities. The Government of Canada is supporting community-led planning and providing core funding to assist with the costs of First Nations governance in order to support First Nations in moving towards self-determination. Despite recent historical investments in Indigenous infrastructure, there is still much to be done. ISC will continue to invest in building reliable infrastructure on reserve and meeting critical needs by:

  • Eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories affecting public water systems on reserve by March 2021; this requires close collaboration with First Nations partners to identify public water and wastewater system needs, develop infrastructure capital plans and design and implement management plans for the operation and maintenance of water and wastewater systems. 
  • Working with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) on First Nations-led engagement to advance options on safe drinking water legislation and to inform the co-development of a long-term water and wastewater strategy for First Nations. 
  • Co-developing and investing in distinctions-based community infrastructure plans, and addressing critical needs in First Nations, Inuit, and M?tis communities by 2030, including health facilities such as new treatment centres, roads, schools, health facilities, and high-speed internet. These 10-year plans will also include new investments to support the operation and maintenance of this infrastructure and will be supported by the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; supporting the continued development and implementation of distinctions-based housing strategies. 
  • Pursuing innovative approaches to service delivery, such as multi-year agreements with service providers or partnerships along the lines of the agreement negotiated with FireSmart Canada, a project that reduces the risk of wildfires through fire prevention and fuel hazard reduction projects in several First Nations communities, in order to enhance First Nations capacity in emergency management, ultimately increasing their resiliency.
  • Continuing to support First Nations to mobilize and increase capacity to deliver housing programs and services on reserve and supporting innovation through investments, policy co-development, innovative pilot projects and initiatives that facilitate access to financing and expand housing options. 
  • Facilitating First Nations engagement of emergency management services across Canada’s regions, led by regional Indigenous representative organizations, in order to better understand First Nations’ emergency management needs, and perspectives on service delivery within each region, while also incorporating Indigenous knowledge. The results of these engagement sessions will support the negotiations of multilateral emergency management service agreements that will see the integration of First Nations as full and equal partners, like the one signed in British Columbia in April 2019.

Enabling Economic Prosperity

As a result of a long history of colonialism, neglect and failed paternalistic policies, many First Nations, Inuit and M?tis do not enjoy the same quality of life as other Canadians. The Department is committed to working in partnership to change this reality for Indigenous peoples by supporting an enabling environment to achieve prosperity. In order to advance economic prosperity, ISC is: 

  • Supporting capacity-building efforts in communities to improve the delivery of economic development services and build on successful investments by supporting projects that leverage private sector investment and lead to higher community revenues and employment. These efforts are critical to support First Nations and Inuit communities’ economic development, from projects such as feasibility studies to large-scale commercial infrastructure.
  • Working closely with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada to leverage greater access to capital to support the growing network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions and Indigenous entrepreneurs. ISC is also working to increase the number of viable businesses in Canada owned and controlled by Indigenous people, to provide a supportive business environment for Indigenous peoples and to advocate for, and inform employers about the hiring of Indigenous peoples.
  • Continuing to work with the M?tis Capital Corporations to support M?tis entrepreneurs in the establishment and expansion of businesses. As well, ISC will continue to coordinate with relevant government departments to advance other economic development priorities as put forward by the M?tis National Council through the Permanent Bilateral Mechanism process.
  • Working in collaboration with other federal governments departments to grow Indigenous participation in procurement across the federal government, and to help reach the 5% Indigenous procurement target. ISC is working to enhance the creation, growth, and long-term viability of Indigenous businesses by expanding opportunities to compete for and win federal procurement opportunities through the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Businesses. The Strategy will be leveraged to create partnerships with other federal departments, provincial governments, Indigenous partners and industry.

Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks

This section contains detailed information on ISC’s planned results and resources for each of its core responsibilities. It also contains information on key risks related to achieving those results.

Services and Benefits to Individuals

These services and benefits are mainly delivered directly to Indigenous people by the Department. They include, among other services and benefits, individual First Nations and Inuit clinical care and health-related benefits such as pharmacy, dental and vision care. The Department is also responsible for determining individuals’ entitlement to Indian registration and for the issuance of various proofs of registration, including the Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS), which can be used to access various programs and services.


Planning highlights

To achieve progress in this area, ISC will focus on 2 departmental results.

  1. Quality and timely services are delivered directly to Indigenous people
    1. Health Services
    2. Individual Affairs
  2. Health services delivered to Indigenous people contribute to improved health outcomes

Health and Social Services

These services are primarily delivered in partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations, provinces/territories and agencies. Together, they focus on the health and well-being of Indigenous people. They include health services to strengthen Indigenous communities in areas such as healthy living, communicable disease control, healthy child development, and community care. They also include social services with an emphasis on children and families, as well as education services from kindergarten to post-secondary.

Planning highlights

To achieve progress in this area, ISC will focus on 3 departmental results.

  1. Indigenous people and communities are healthier
  2. Indigenous people receive social services that respond to community needs
  3. Indigenous students receive an inclusive and quality education

Governance and Community Development Services

These services are commonly delivered in partnership with Indigenous communities and institutions and are focused on strong community governance and physical foundations. They include supports for governance capacity in areas such as community planning and financial management. They also include support for investments in community infrastructure, land and resource management, and economic development.


Planning highlights

To achieve progress in this area, ISC will focus on 4 departmental results.

  1. Indigenous communities advance their governance capacity
  2. Indigenous peoples have reliable and sustainable infrastructure
  3. Land and resources in Indigenous communities are sustainably managed
  4. Indigenous communities build economic prosperity

Indigenous Self-Determined Services

These services are designed and delivered by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous peoples. They include services for which the control, authority and/or jurisdiction has been formally transferred to Indigenous communities or organizations, as supported through departmental funding.

Planning highlights

Enhancing Indigenous control over the design and delivery of services (e.g. education, health, social) is critical to realizing a future in which the department’s existence is no longer required; a stated objective in the enabling legislation that created Indigenous Services Canada. Supporting Indigenous peoples to build capacity so that their vision of self-determination can be implemented is a core part of ISC’s mandate. As ISC adopts modern service delivery principles, it is expected that self-determined services will increase as more Indigenous communities become equipped to assume control or authority for service design and delivery.

To achieve progress in this area, ISC will focus on 2 departmental results.

  1. Indigenous peoples control the design, delivery and management of services
  2. Indigenous self-determined services are improving outcomes for communities

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website visit.

CHG Logo.