Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch

The Branch provides policy advice to the Minister on federal-provincial financial relations and social policy issues and their economic and fiscal implications. It also administers the major federal-provincial transfer programs.

This division focuses on federal-provincial fiscal and financial relations, especially as they affect public policy, division of roles and responsibilities and the affordability of national social programs. The Division also administers the major federal transfer programs (Equalization, the Canada Health Transfer [CHT] and Canada Social Transfer [CST] and Territorial Formula Financing [TFF]). In addition, the Division serves as a liaison between the Department and its provincial counterparts, and coordinates meetings of federal and provincial ministers of Finance and treasurers and their deputies.

The Division is made up of six sections:

This section manages federal transfers to the provinces and territories in support of health care (the CHT) and post-secondary education, social assistance and social services, including early childhood development (the CST). It also monitors the impact of transfers on federal and provincial spending, and develops options and provides advice on the role of federal transfers generally in support of national social policy objectives.

Equalization payments ensure that all provinces are able to provide reasonably comparable levels of services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. The group is responsible for development of policies for all aspects of the Equalization program and related transfers, and for implementing changes to the program, including the development of legislation and regulations.

This section focuses on research in support of major transfer programs. A key responsibility of the Equalization Research Group is to conduct research aimed at improving and updating the Equalization formula as part of the renewal process. It also monitors and assesses the effectiveness of other transfer arrangements, and puts forward policy advice to improve those arrangements.

Territorial Formula Financing (TFF) is an annual unconditional transfer that enables territorial governments to provide their residents with programs and services that are reasonably comparable to those offered by provincial governments at comparable levels of taxation. The section is responsible for the administration of TFF and territorial government borrowing limits, and supporting negotiations with territorial governments on resource revenue sharing under devolution.

This section's role is to support the Department's participation in meetings of federal-provincial-territorial ministers of Finance and their deputy ministers, as well as to coordinate the briefings for bilateral meetings with ministers and/or deputy ministers.

This section is responsible for determining the payments that provinces and territories receive under the Equalization, CHT, CST and TFF programs, and administering the programs to ensure the payments are processed accurately. The section is also responsible for the preparation of various forecasts needed for the government's financial cycle (e.g., the budget, Main Estimates, Public Accounts, etc.).

The Division is responsible for providing advice and analysis to the Minister and senior management on the government's broad social agenda, especially from the perspective of the intersection between social policy and economic policy.

The Division is made up of four sections.

This section is responsible for reviewing and developing policies and programs in accordance with the federal government's social policy agenda. Its work focuses on inequality issues, and on the level and distribution of income and wealth. Its main areas of work include the retirement income system (the Canada Pension Plan [CPP], the Old-Age Security [OAS] and the Guaranteed Income Supplement [GIS] programs); assistance to families; issues relating to Canadians with disabilities; and veterans' issues.

The work of this group covers a wide range of diverse and complex issues including social (e.g., Aboriginal health and education) economic (e.g., lands and resources), legal (e.g., claims and settlements) and governance/accountability (e.g., self-government negotiations and financial arrangements with First Nations, and the fiscal implications and accountability aspects of federal Aboriginal programming). As well, the section is involved in significant Aboriginal elements in broader economic or social policy proposals from departments.

This section provides advice and analysis on a diverse set of policy issues – ranging from key health challenges such as substance abuse and chronic illness, the government’s role in cultural and artistic industries, and investments in social infrastructure such as affordable housing and early learning and childcare.

This section provides advice and analysis on policies and issues related to the Canadian justice system (e.g. criminal justice, family justice and access to justice) and on public safety policies and programs focused on keeping Canadians safe and secure (e.g. crime prevention, cyber security, border security, policing, corrections and emergency management).

This section provides analysis and advice on policy initiatives and proposals developed for Cabinet committee consideration. Its work includes developing and analyzing policy proposals related to employment insurance, labour markets, the government's skills and learning agenda, post-secondary education and immigration, and consideration of housing and homelessness issues.

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