Programs and service delivery overview – Social development

1. Poverty Reduction Strategy


The Poverty Reduction Strategy was released on August 21, 2018. The Strategy is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending poverty.

The Strategy establishes an official measure of poverty: Canada's Official Poverty Line, based on the cost of a basket of goods and services that individuals and families require to meet their basic needs and achieve a modest standard of living in communities across the country.

The Strategy sets 2 poverty reduction targets for Canada: a 20% reduction in poverty by 2020 and a 50% reduction in poverty by 2030, relative to 2015 levels. Results from the 2019 Canadian Income Survey released in March 2021 show that Canada continues to meet its 2020 target to reduce poverty by 20% based on 2015 levels. Between 2015 and 2019, over 1.3 million Canadians were lifted out of poverty, including 435,000 children and 45,000 seniors. This underscores the progress being made on the Government’s goal to cut poverty in half by 2030, as the poverty rate in Canada continues its downward trend.

In August 2019, the National Advisory Council on Poverty was established with a mandate to provide independent advice to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development on poverty reduction. The Council’s mandate also includes reporting annually on the progress achieved toward the poverty reduction targets, continuing a dialogue with Canadians on poverty and undertaking any activity specified by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

The Poverty Reduction Act, which received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, entrenches Canada’s Official Poverty Line, the poverty reduction targets and the National Advisory Council on Poverty into law.

Budget 2018 announced an investment of $12.1 million over 5 years, and $1.5 million per year thereafter, to address key gaps in poverty measurement in Canada. As part of this investment, Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) have been working with territorial governments to collect and publish poverty rates for the territories.

As part of the Strategy, the Government has also committed to working with National Indigenous Organizations and others to identify and co-develop indicators of poverty and well-being that reflect the multiple dimensions of poverty and well-being experienced by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. This work is underway, and as of March 31, 2021, funding agreements are in place with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Assembly of First Nations to support progress on this commitment.

Policy lead: Strategic and Service Policy Branch

List of key stakeholders, partners and governments

ESDC works in partnership with Statistics Canada on periodic reviews of Canada’s Official Poverty Line to ensure it continues to reflect what Canadians need to meet their basic needs and achieve a modest standard of living.

There are many poverty stakeholder groups across Canada including the Tamarack Institute, Canada without Poverty, Campaign 2000 and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. ESDC also works together with all levels of government on poverty reduction, including provinces and territories, municipalities and Indigenous governments, National Indigenous Organizations and Indigenous peoples.

2. Early Learning and Child Care


The Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Program aims to ensure that all families have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care, including lower income families, Indigenous families, lone-parent families, families in underserved communities, those working non-standard hours and families with children with varying abilities.

Budgets 2016 and 2017 announced investments of $7.5 billion over 11 years, starting in 2017 to 2018, to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country, particularly for families in need. Signed by federal, provincial and territorial governments and announced in June 2017, the Multilateral ELCC Framework sets the foundation for governments to work towards a shared long-term vision and shared principles.

The 2020 Fall Economic Statement (FES) made the ELCC funding announced in Budget 2017 permanent at 2027 to 2028 levels. This represents an investment of $870 million per year and ongoing, starting in 2028 to 2029.

Building on investments announced in the 2020 FES, Budget 2021 proposed new investments totaling close to $30 billion over the next 5 years to build a Canada-wide ELCC system, and combined with previous investments announced since 2015, $9.2 billion every year, permanently for ELCC and Indigenous ELCC.

ESDC is working with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based system of quality child care. The plan is to achieve a 50% reduction in average fees for regulated child care in all provinces outside of Quebec by the end of 2022, and reduce fees to an average of $10 a day by 2025 to 2026 for all regulated child care spaces.

To build capacity within the government and engage stakeholders to provide child care policy analysis to support a Canada-wide ELCC system, the Federal Secretariat on ELCC was established within the ELCC Program. The Federal Secretariat brings together governments, experts, and stakeholders to collaborate in designing and implementing a Canada-wide ELCC system.

The program continues to build on three streams:

  • transfers to provinces and territories
  • data and research to track progress, identify gaps, and report on outcomes for Canadians, and
  • an innovation Program to fund projects that test and develop innovative approaches, aiming to improve ELCC programs and services

In addition, a National Advisory Council will be created to provide expert advice and serve as a forum for consultation on issues and challenges facing the ELCC sector.

Official languages: as part of the Action Plan for Official Languages 2018 to 2023, ESDC received $20 million dedicated to ELCC in Francophone minority communities.

In conjunction with organizations such as:

  • the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne
  • the Commission nationale des parents francophones, and
  • the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité

ESDC supports professional learning opportunities and training for early childhood educators; and entrepreneurs in opening Francophone daycares and child care services.

Policy lead: Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Social Policy Directorate

Service delivered by: Provinces and territories

List of key stakeholders

The ELCC Program has an extensive group of stakeholders that varies depending on the program stream: provinces and territories transfers, Data and Research, and Innovation.

The most common stakeholders for the ELCC Program include:

  • provinces and territories
  • universities
  • academics
  • experts in ELCC
  • other government departments, including Statistics Canada and Women and Gender Equality
  • not-for-profit organizations
  • international organizations
  • service providers, and
  • parents

3. Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Transformation Initiative


Budget 2017 announced $1.7 billion over 10 years to strengthen early learning and child care (ELCC) programs and services for Indigenous children and families. This is part of the commitment of $7.5 billion over 11 years the Government has made to support and create more high-quality affordable ELCC across the country. Budget 2017 also announced that a distinct Indigenous Framework on ELCC would be created in cooperation with Indigenous partners to reflect the unique cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children.

In September 2018, the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council jointly released the co-developed Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC) FrameworkFootnote 1. This Framework envisions First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families as happy and safe, imbued with a strong cultural identity. It sees children and families supported by a comprehensive and coordinated system of ELCC policies, programs and services that are led by Indigenous peoples, rooted in Indigenous knowledge, culture and languages, and supported by strong partnerships of holistic, accessible and flexible programming that is inclusive of the needs and aspirations of Indigenous children and families.

These investments led to the creation of the IELCC Transformation Initiative, which supports the implementation of the co-developed IELCC Framework. To enable self-determination and control of IELCC by Indigenous governments, the Government of Canada, First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation are working together to establish ELCC priorities, policies and funding allocations at national, regional and community levels. The IELCC Transformation Initiative allows for investments in a wide range of programs and services including daycare and Head Start programming regardless of where children live.

ESDC is the federal focal point guiding this horizontal initiative, with Indigenous Services Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as co-signatories to the terms and conditions of the IELCC Transformation Initiative.

Significant investments have been made to date under the Initiative and results are positive. In 2019 to 2020, the government continued to support new funding reaching hundreds of First Nations and Inuit communities to improve ELCC services. Métis governments were also able to develop new Métis-specific ELCC programs and services, including provision of child care subsidies, at-home learning kits and the launch of Michif language immersion programs and cultural camps.

In addition, the Government enhanced existing “pan-Indigenous” ELCC programming through increased support to the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities program. It also supported Indigenous-led best practices through the application-based Quality Improvement Projects to advance foundational elements of IELCC.

Going forward, ESDC will continue to support greater influence and control by Indigenous peoples over IELCC programs and services that support ELCC priorities set by Indigenous communities, strengthen foundational supports for IELCC and improve horizontal coordination of federal programs and investments.

Building on the Framework and the vision of a Canada-wide ELCC system as announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, Budget 2021 proposes $2.5 billion over the next 5 years and $542 million ongoing to continue the progress towards an IELCC system that meets the needs of Indigenous children and families, wherever they live.

Policy lead: Strategic and Service Policy Branch

Service delivered by: The IELCC Secretariat with the Program Operations Branch, Indigenous Services Canada, and the PHAC.

List of key stakeholders, partners and governments

The Indigenous Transformation Initiative works in partnership with:

  • Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous communities
  • governments
  • organizations, and
  • associations

Distinctions-based National and Regional Partnership Tables, led by representatives mandated by Indigenous leadership and the Government of Canada, are the focal point for co-development and implementation of plans and priorities, including regarding funding allocations.

4. Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families


The Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families (SDPP-C and F) is a grants and contributions program with an ongoing funding budget of $9.15 million per year that addresses complex social issues and helps improve life outcomes for children and families and other vulnerable populations in Canada.

The SDPP-C and F makes strategic investments in not-for-profit organizations to address the social needs and aspirations of children and families. The program promotes innovative approaches to achieve its goals. For example, funding recipients are encouraged to find new partners across the private and public sectors to complement federal money in order to maximize the impact of interventions. A number of initiatives have used an intermediary funding model that allows local communities greater say in how funding dollars are directed to achieve social objectives. Funding is focused on fostering social inclusion of vulnerable populations and strengthening the capacity and the sustainability of the not-for-profit sector.

Examples of recent and current interventions funded under the Children and Families component of the Social Development Partnerships Program include: funding non-profit organizations to develop and disseminate information, tools and resources to increase the financial literacy and wellness of persons living in poverty with a special focus on Indigenous people; funding the University of Toronto to deliver the Black Student University Access Network project in 4 project sites (Calgary, Toronto, Halifax and Montréal) to develop and implement innovative and culturally relevant guidance counselling services, mentorship and online training for educators to meet the needs of Black students; and funding organizations to support social enterprises to develop business skills, access financing and network in order to better address their social and environmental goals.

The SDPP-C and F also supports Canada’s Volunteer Awards, as well as official language minority communities under the Social Partnership Initiative of the Action Plan for Official Languages of 2018 to 2023: Investing in Our Future.

Starting in 2019 to 2020, in recognition of the United Nations International Decade for Persons of African Descent, the program’s allocated budget includes $25 million over 5 years for projects and capital assistance for the Supporting Black Canadian Communities initiative.

In Spring 2020, the Government of Canada implemented temporary initiatives to address COVID-19 related issues including an investment of $350 million through the Emergency Community Support Fund to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need. Launched on May 19, 2020, through the SDPP- C and F, the Fund worked with 3 national intermediaries: the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and Community Foundations of Canada, to deliver this funding for over 11,500 projects. These intermediaries channeled funds through their regional and local partners to local community organizations who support a wide range of vulnerable populations.

The SDPP-C and F is established under the authority of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act and is administered by ESDC.

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

The stakeholders are not-for-profit organizations, provincial/territorial entities and Indigenous organizations from various sectors working on social issues related to the Program’s vulnerable populations.

5. Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy


ESDC has been experimenting and piloting various social innovation and social finance (SI/SF) ideas since 2010, focusing on addressing unmet needs and exploring new types of approaches (for example, social impact bonds, micro-grants, pay-for-performance and support for social enterprises).

While Canada is a relatively prosperous country, our communities still face persistent and complex social problems that affect some groups more than others, such as Indigenous people, seniors, youth, immigrants and women fleeing violence. In 2015, ESDC started work on a federal SI/SF Strategy in order to better enable and support communities and social purpose organizations to tackle complex problems.

Social innovation refers to a response to a social or environmental problem (whether a program, service or way of structuring an organization) which, once adopted, results in better outcomes than existing approaches. Innovations, including impact investing, housing first or the use of new technologies, such as data analytics, are all examples of social innovation. Social finance refers to the practice of making investments intended to create a measurable social or environmental impact as well as to generate financial returns.

Investments in social enterprises support social innovation alongside having an economic impact by creating jobs, reducing barriers to employment and enabling social inclusion. A social enterprise is a revenue-generating, innovative business model, whether not-for-profit or for-profit, that pursues a social, cultural or environmental impact through the sale of goods and services and/or employment of priority populations, with the majority of net profits directed back to the organization’s mission.

From June 2017 to June 2018, a Co-Creation Steering Group composed of 16 external stakeholders and 1 government official, appointed through an open call for nominations, was mandated to provide recommendations on the creation of an SI/SF Strategy for Canada. Following a year-long engagement process, the Steering Group report, Inclusive innovation: New ideas and new partnerships for stronger communities -, including 12 recommendations, was published in August 2018.

In response to the recommendations, a $755 million Social Finance Fund will launch in 2021 to 2022 to help charitable, non-profit and other social purpose organizations access new financing, and to help connect them with private investors looking to invest in projects that will drive positive social change. The Department plans to launch a public call for proposals to identify a Fund Manager(s) in 2021. Additionally, $50 million were allocated over 2 years in an Investment Readiness Program for social purpose organizations to improve their ability to successfully participate in the social finance market.

In 2019, a Call for Nominations was launched for a Social Innovation Advisory Council. The Council, once appointed, will provide strategic advice and subject matter expertise to support the implementation of the SI/SF Strategy and growth of social purpose organizations.

The SI/SF Strategy supports departmental initiatives such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty reduction and ending homelessness. Additionally, the Strategy intersects with work underway in other departments, including dialogue between the Government of Canada and the charitable sector on important and emerging issues facing charities (guided by the Canada Revenue Agency and with the input of the Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector) and modernization of procurement practices, including the development of social procurement strategies.

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch

Service delivered by: Income Security and Social Development Branch

6. Investment Readiness Program


The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) was a 2-year, $50 million pilot program beginning in 2019 to 2020 designed to help advance Social Innovation and Social Finance (SI/SF) in Canada by helping to catalyze community-led solutions to persistent social and environmental challenges. The pilot program ended on March 31, 2021.

The IRP was developed as a foundational element of Canada’s SI/SF Strategy. The program provided time-limited investments to support over 600 social purpose organizations (SPOs) across Canada (for example, non-profits, charities, co-operatives, social enterprises and mission-focused for-profits) in improving their capacity and ability to participate in the social finance market, access new investment and contract opportunities, and supported them throughout the innovation cycle. The goal of the program was to increase the investment readiness of SPOs in preparation for the Social Finance Fund (SFF). The initiative was delivered through 3 types of partner organizations:

  • readiness support partners redistributed IRP funding to SPOs. These organizations established open and transparent processes to fund and support a broad range of SPOs across Canada so they were able to access tailored expertise to become better positioned to take advantage of financing opportunities that will become available through the SFF, as well as other investment opportunities
  • expert service providers received some funding to strengthen their existing programs to provide the specialized knowledge and services required to help SPOs build their investment readiness, and
  • ecosystem mobilization initiatives were projects that provided to support organizations to help address system-level gaps in key areas such as social research and development, knowledge mobilization, impact measurement, building the readiness of social finance intermediaries and for profit engagement

Finally, the program provided a learning opportunity to inform future direction on how best to continue to support and mobilize social innovation and social finance beyond March 31, 2021.

Policy lead: Income Security and Development Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of IRP funding recipients

  • Readiness support partners
    • Community Foundations of Canada
    • Chantier de l’économie sociale
    • Canadian Women’s Foundation
    • National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association
    • National Association of Friendship Centres
  • Expert service providers
    • LIFT Philanthropy Partners
    • McConnell Innoweave
    • Social Enterprise Ecosystem Project (S4ES)
    • Social Venture Connexion (SVX)
    • Raven Indigenous Capital Partners
    • UBC Sauder Social Innovation Academy
  • Ecosystem mobilization initiatives
    • Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet)
    • McConnell Foundation
    • Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3ci)
    • New Market Funds
    • The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR)
    • Imagine Canada
    • Startup Canada
    • Centre for Social Innovation
    • Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
    • Cooperatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC)
    • Social Economy through Social Inclusion (SETSI)
    • Native Women’s Association of Canada
    • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

7. Social Finance Fund


To encourage innovative approaches to persistent and complex social challenges, the Government of Canada plans to create a Social Finance Fund (SFF). Social finance refers to the practice of making investments intended to create a social or environmental impact alongside financial returns.

The $755 million SFF, expected to launch in 2021 to 2022, will make it easier for charities, non-profit organizations, co-operatives and mission-driven for-profit companies to obtain a loan to expand a social enterprise, for example, or to secure finance to develop affordable housing. It will seek to strengthen the ability of these organizations to achieve their social and environmental goals and will connect them with non-government investors seeking to support projects that will drive positive social change.

The proposed SFF will work through a wholesale model. Investment managers selected through an open call will place the Social Finance Fund’s money into non-profit loan funds, venture capital funds, affordable housing funds and other types of social finance intermediaries. Those intermediaries will invest in organizations that hold a social or environmental mission. The intermediaries will collect data on financial performance and on social or environmental performance. At the end of the program, the investment managers would pay back the Government of Canada.

The SFF would seek to increase the amount private investors—such as charitable foundations, commercial banks and pension funds—invest in organizations that hold a social or environmental mission. It would seek to encourage conditions such that, when the SFF ends, private investors continue to invest in socially and environmentally driven organizations.

The SFF will allocate at least $100 million to investments that support gender equality. An amount of 50 million dollars of the SFF will capitalize the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association’s Indigenous Growth Fund.

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

  • Social finance intermediaries (such as social venture capital funds, social impact funds, community loan funds, social investment public agencies)
  • Financial institutions (including chartered banks and credit unions)
  • Organizations with a social or environmental mission (represented by umbrella entities such as Imagine Canada, Startup Canada, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada and the Social Enterprise Council of Canada), and
  • Investors (such as Workers Pension Funds or Charitable Foundations)

8. Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime


The Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime (PYVC) provides income support to eligible parents who suffer a loss of income as they take time away from work to cope with the death or disappearance of their child, or children, as a result of a probable Criminal Code offence that occurred in Canada. Up to $10 million in program benefits are available annually.

Eligible parents receive payments of $450 per week, paid bi-weekly, for a period of up to 35 weeks during the income support period of 2 years following the date of the incident. The benefit may be shared between eligible parents for the same incident and may not be combined with Employment Insurance or Quebec Parental Insurance Program benefits. The incident must have occurred in Canada. To be eligible, parents must have recent labour force attachment having earned at least $6,500 in the previous 52 weeks or calendar year and be on leave from work or working up to 50% of their regular work week (up to a maximum of 20 hours/week).

The PYVC program is a discretionary program. It is authorized by section 7 of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act, which authorizes the Minister to establish and implement programs designed to contribute to the social development of Canada and make grants and contributions in support of these programs.

Key program statistics

From April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, 25 grants were issued, with the disbursements totalling approximately $390,000.

Budget 2021 announcement

In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced its intention to amend the Canada Labour Code to ensure that employees in the federally regulated private sector have job protection when they avail themselves of this benefit.

Policy lead: Skills and Employment Branch

Service delivered by: Benefits Delivery Services

List of key stakeholders

Key government stakeholders include:

  • Justice Canada
  • law enforcement agencies at all levels of government, and
  • victims’ support organizations including:
    • the Canadian Centre for Child Protection
    • Enfant-Retour Québec
    • the Crime Victims Assistance Centre
    • MADD Canada, and
    • other missing children networks

Service Canada maintains a list of victim service providers who receive electronic communications regularly in order to facilitate the application process for parents who may be eligible.

Outreach and stakeholder engagement activities are ongoing through victim service providers to ensure that families who find themselves in tragic circumstances are aware of this income support and provide greater accessibility to the benefit. Victim service providers can also facilitate the application process for those who may be eligible.

9. Canada Child Benefit and Child Disability Benefit


The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. The CCB may include an additional amount for the child disability benefit (CDB).

The CCB program is statutory. The Income Tax Act enacts the CCB, defines its eligibility requirements and provides the legislative authority for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to administer the CCB. Eligible individuals receive the CCB on behalf of children. To be eligible, an individual must:

  • live with the child, and the child must be under 18 years of age
  • be primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the child, and
  • be a resident of Canada for tax purposes

In addition, the individual or his or her spouse or common-law partner must be any of the following:

  • a Canadian citizen
  • a permanent resident
  • a protected person
  • a temporary resident who has lived in Canada for 18 consecutive months and has a valid permit in the 19th month, or
  • an Indigenous person who meets the definition of “Indian” under the Indian Act

For the 2021 to 2022 benefit year, the program will provide a maximum annual benefit of:

  • up to $6,833 per child under the age of 6, and
  • up to $5,765 per child for those aged 6 through 17

Families with less than $32,028 in adjusted family net income (AFNI) receive the maximum CCB amount.

The CCB is reduced at different rates based on the number of children in the family and the family’s AFNI.

For families with an AFNI between $32,028 and $69,395, the CCB is reduced by:

  • 7% for families with 1 eligible child
  • 13.5% for families with 2 eligible children
  • 19% for families with 3 eligible children, and
  • 23% for families with 4 or more eligible children

For families with an AFNI above $69,395, the remaining CCB (after being reduced at the rates stated above) is reduced by an additional:

  • 3.2% for families with 1 eligible child
  • 5.7% for families with 2 eligible children
  • 8.0% for families with 3 eligible children, and
  • 9.5% for families with 4 or more eligible children

To provide further support for Canadian families facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government provided a one-time enhancement to the Canada Child Benefit payment amounts of $300 per child for families already receiving the Benefit, as part of the May 2020 payment. This top-up contributed to the CCB providing $26.6 billion to approximately 3.9 million recipients and 6.9 million children in the 2019 to 2020 benefit year.

Families entitled to the CCB are receiving temporary support of up to $1,200 in 2021 for each child under the age of 6 to help families with young children through the pandemic.

The CCB has resulted in higher incomes for families with children. Couples with children saw their median child benefits increase by $1,400, and single-parent families received an extra $1,100 in 2019 compared to 2015, contributing to a positive start for Canadian children.

Based on 2019 Canadian Income Survey data released on March 23, 2021, the poverty rate for children decreased to 9.7% in 2019 from 10.8% in 2018. Overall, there were 435,000 fewer children living in poverty in 2019 compared to 2015. The CCB is having a significant positive impact on families.

Child Disability Benefit

The CDB is an additional monthly benefit included in the CCB to provide financial assistance to qualified families caring for children who have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.

The responsibilities for the CDB are identical to the responsibilities for the CCB. The Department of Finance is the policy lead, and the CRA administers the benefit. ESDC provides policy support and acts as the lead on most public communications about the benefit.

To receive the CDB, individuals must be eligible for the CCB and their children must be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Individuals already receiving the CCB whose child is eligible for the DTC do not need to apply for the CDB, since they receive it automatically.

CDB payments are calculated using the individual’s number of eligible children, their AFNI and their marital status. For the 2021 to 2022 benefit year, the CDB provides up to $2,915 for each child under 18 years of age. The benefit is reduced when adjusted family net income is more than $69,395.

Unlike the CCB, which has 2 thresholds for reduction amounts, the CDB only has one. For example, for the CCB, families with an AFNI below $32,028 receive the maximum benefit, whereas families with an AFNI above $31,711 face 2 reduction schedules that vary according to the number of children: 1 schedule for the portion of their AFNI between $32,028 and $69,395, and a 2nd for the portion of their income exceeding $69,395.

For the CDB, families see their benefit reduced based on the number of children with a disability and only on the portion of their AFNI exceeding $69,395 (the second CCB threshold). Families with an AFNI of $69,395 or less receive the maximum benefit.

For families with 1 child eligible for the CDB, the reduction is 3.2% of the amount of AFNI greater than $69,395. For families with 2 or more children eligible for the CDB, the reduction is 5.7% of the amount of AFNI greater than $69,395.

The maximum amounts and phase-out thresholds for the CDB are indexed to inflation annually.

Policy lead: Department of Finance

Service delivered by: CRA

Communication lead: ESDC

List of key stakeholders

Provincial and territorial governments: all have agreed not to reduce other benefits to ensure that the full amount of the increase in the assistance provided by the CCB is passed along to families.

10. Canada Workers Benefit and CWB disability supplement


The Canada Workers Benefit (CWB)—formerly the Working Income Tax Benefit—is a refundable tax credit that supplements the earnings of eligible low-income workers. By letting low-income workers take home more money while they work, the CWB encourages more people to join and remain in the workforce, and offers help to Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class. The CWB is legislated under the Income Tax Act.

The threshold of eligibility for the CWB left many low-wage workers out of the program and that meant people were living below the poverty line despite working full-time. With the passage of changes contained in Budget 2021, the CWB will now be available to about 1 million more Canadians and help lift nearly 100,000 people out of poverty.

For unattached workers in 2021 the CWB:

  • begins at $3,000 of adjusted net income and increases at a rate of 27% of adjusted net income
  • provides a maximum benefit of $1,395, and
  • is reduced at a rate of 15% of adjusted net income exceeding $22,944

For couples or single parents in 2021 the CWB:

  • begins at $3,000 of adjusted net income and increases at a rate of 27% of adjusted net income
  • provides a maximum benefit of $2,403, and
  • is reduced at a rate of 15% of adjusted net income exceeding $26,177

In addition, this income-tested benefit includes a new provision that allows secondary earners in couples, most of whom are women, to exclude up to $14,000 of their working income, allowing them to access a more generous tax refund.

The CWB amounts are indexed annually to keep up with the cost of living.

To be eligible to receive the CWB, an individual must be:

  • a resident of Canada for income tax purposes throughout the year
  • 19 years of age or older by the end of the tax year (for example December 31), and
  • under the age of 19 in the event that this person has a spouse or common-law partner, or an eligible dependent

An individual is not eligible for the CWB if they are:

  • a full-time student at the designate college or university for more than 13 weeks in the year (and do not have an eligible dependent)
  • in prison for 90 days or more during the year, and
  • not required to pay tax in Canada because you are an officer or servant of another country, such as a diplomat

To improve access to the CWB, starting with the 2019 taxation year, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has been automatically determining whether these tax filers are eligible for the benefit even if they do not claim it.

CWB eligible recipients currently have the option to apply for and receive up to 4 advance payments of up to a maximum of 50% of the benefit, including the disability supplement if applicable, that they expect to claim on their next income tax return.

The CRA was provided with $4 million over 2 years, starting in 2019 to 2020, to conduct targeted outreach to give low-income workers improved access to the CWB throughout the year and increase awareness of the CWB, including the advance payment provision. This funding has also been used to allow low-income workers to apply online for advance payment of the CWB through the CRA’s My Account portal.

As was the case with the Working Income Tax Benefit, provinces and territories are offered the opportunity to reconfigure the CWB to align with their respective social agendas. At this time, Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut have opted to modify CWB parameters to their requirements.

CWB Disability Supplement

The CWB also features a supplement that is available to individuals who are eligible for the disability tax credit.

For the 2021 tax year, the CWB disability supplement has been indexed to $720.

Policy lead: Department of Finance Canada

Service delivered by: CRA

Communication lead: ESDC

List of key stakeholders

Provincial and territorial governments

11. Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy


Reaching Home (RH): Canada's Homelessness Strategy is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness. Recognizing that homelessness is a shared responsibility and that the Government of Canada is not the primary funder of homelessness programming in many communities, RH mobilizes partners at the federal, provincial/territorial, municipal and community levels as well as diverse stakeholders to tackle homelessness. RH supports the goals of the National Housing Strategy, in particular its goal to reduce chronic homelessness by 50% by 2027 to 2028. RH provides the majority of its funding to communities to support the delivery of local projects. The Designated Communities stream provides long-term stable funding to 64 urban communities. The Rural and Remote Homelessness stream provides project-based funding outside of designated communities boundaries. The Territorial Homelessness stream provides funding to support communities in the territories to address their unique homelessness challenges.

In recognition of the significant over representation of Indigenous people among the homeless population, RH includes an Indigenous Homelessness stream though Indigenous people can also access services under all RH streams. The Indigenous Homelessness stream provides funding to organizations that provide culturally appropriate services and supports to address the specific needs of Indigenous people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Funding under the stream is delivered primarily by Indigenous organizations.

Reaching Home has also introduced new dedicated investments to support the development and implementation of distinctions-based approaches to homelessness, including funding for modern treaty holders who have provisions within their treaties related to the delivery of social services. In the context of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, funding for distinctions-based approaches under RH contributes to advancing the federal government’s nation-to-nation and Inuit-Crown relationships, and ensures that federal obligations pertaining to the delivery of federal programs and services with modern treaty holders that have provisions within their treaties related to the delivery of social services are upheld.

Outside of Quebec, the majority of regional funds are provided to a single local organization called a Community Entity, which is responsible for further distributing and managing the funds within a community. Community Advisory Boards, which are encouraged to have diverse representation (for example, persons with lived experience of homelessness), help guide these investments and foster local collaboration. Within Quebec, RH is administered through formal Canada-Quebec agreements that respects the jurisdiction and priorities of both governments in addressing homelessness.

Designated communities are required to implement an outcomes-based approach in which they work to achieve community-level outcomes, including a reduction in chronic homelessness. Designated communities also have until 2021 to 2022 to introduce a process known as “Coordinated Access” that streamlines access to housing and supports for people experiencing homelessness and coordinates local homelessness services to achieve community-wide outcomes using real-time data.

Reaching Home assists communities in establishing robust data systems to implement Coordinated Access and to measure their progress in reducing homelessness. For example, the Community Capacity and Innovation stream provides financial support to communities and supports the delivery of training and technical assistance. The program also provides communities with free-of-charge access to the Homelessness Individuals and Families Information System, a comprehensive data collection and case management system designed to support the daily operations of service providers and enable data sharing necessary for coordinated access and reporting on community-level outcomes.

Key program statistics

Results are not yet available for RH; however, the program builds on the former Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) (2014 to 2019), which demonstrated considerable success.

Between 2014 and 2019, the HPS supported 3,291 projects, which contributed to:

  • 74,111 people being placed in more stable housing
  • 68,392 people having received a Housing Loss Prevention intervention, of which 89% remained housed 3 months after receiving the intervention
  • 74,462 people were assisted to access social assistance, Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan or other income sources to improve their income stability
  • 24,325 people were supported in finding full-time or part-time jobs
  • 16,501 people were helped to begin a job training program, and
  • 10,329 people were helped in pursuing education

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

Key stakeholder groups include:

  • homeless-serving organizations and national stakeholders such as the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
  • National Indigenous Organizations, Indigenous governments and service providers working to address homelessness
  • provincial, territorial and municipalities departments responsible for addressing homelessness, and
  • other federal agencies and departments such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Veterans Affairs Canada and Health Canada

12. Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development)


Adopted by Canada and all 193 United Nations Member States in September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a 15-year global framework centered on an ambitious set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for addressing shared social, economic and environmental challenges, both at home and abroad (attached as Annex A). While the 2030 Agenda provides a blueprint for advancing sustainable development, national contexts require countries to establish their own approaches to implementation to reflect their own priorities and realities. The 2030 Agenda is a shared responsibility that requires the collective efforts of all levels of government, business, academia, civil society and individuals.

To support Canada’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda, Budget 2018 allocated $49.4 million over 13 years beginning in 2018 to 2019, to establish an SDG Unit and fund monitoring and reporting activities by Statistics Canada to allow Canada to effectively measure its progress. Budget 2018 also provided $59.8 million from existing departmental resources to establish an SDG Grants and Contributions Funding Program to support stakeholders that are advancing the 2030 Agenda.

ESDC houses the SDG Unit and leads the coordination of Canada’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda, in close collaboration with all federal departments and agencies that are accountable for advancing and reporting on the SDGs under their responsibility. This work includes the responsibility of developing a 2030 Agenda national strategy through engagement with provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders.

Moving Forward Together, Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy was released on February 17, 2021, as an important step in advancing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in Canada and abroad. Moving Forward Together builds upon the 30 actions and 5 core principles outlined in Towards Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy (June 2019), and the feedback received from in-person and online nation-wide consultations and outreach, to drive forward progress on the SDGs.

Moving Forward Together aims to create and foster an enabling environment for ongoing dialogue and participation where all Canadians are encouraged to take action to implement the 2030 Agenda and to make progress on advancing its SDGs.

In addition, the Government of Canada is administering the SDG Funding Program to raise awareness and engagement on the 2030 Agenda and supporting the work of partners and stakeholders across the country to advance action on the SDGs.

Policy lead: Strategic and Service Policy Branch

Service delivered by: Strategic Service Policy Branch, in collaboration with Statistics Canada and 7 core supporting departments:

  • Crown‑Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Indigenous Services Canada
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and
  • Women and Gender Equality

List of key stakeholders

Given the broad scope of the SDG, the SDG Unit engages with a wide range of stakeholders.

Key stakeholder groups include:

  • National Indigenous Organizations
  • provinces and territories
  • municipalities
  • civil society organizations
  • academia
  • youth, and
  • the private sector

Annex A – Sustainable Development Goals

  • SDG 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • SDG 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • SDG 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • SDG 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • SDG 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • SDG 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • SDG 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • SDG 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • SDG 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • SDG 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • SDG 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • SDG 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • SDG 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • SDG 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • SDG 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • SDG 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • SDG 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

13. Canada’s Volunteer Awards


Canada’s Volunteer Awards (CVA) recognize the outstanding contributions of volunteers, businesses and innovative not-for-profit and charitable organizations in improving the well-being of people and communities. The awards highlight best practices in community leadership, encourage partnerships across sectors and increase the capacity of award and grant recipients to support their communities.

The CVA program, first launched in 2010, consists of 21 awards. There is 1 Lifelong Achievement award, which is a national award. The other 4 categories of awards are regional awards:

  • Emerging Leader
  • Community Leader
  • Business Leader, and
  • Social Innovator

A recipient for each regional award is selected from each of the 5 regions:

  • Atlantic
  • Quebec
  • Ontario
  • Prairies, and
  • British Columbia and the North

The awards cycle is managed through a nationally administered call for nominations on an annual basis and a multi-step assessment process. Volunteer regional reviewers from across the country review and evaluate nominations based on a set of established criteria and develop a list of top-ranked nominations for assessment by the National Advisory Committee. The National Advisory Committee then evaluates the top-ranked nominations in each award category and advises the Minister regarding the award recipients. An awards ceremony, led by the Minister, generally takes place each December. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony for 2019 recipients had to be cancelled, but a virtual Exemplary Practices session took place in November 2020.

Key program statistics

Over the past 7 award cycles, 130 awards have been presented. As part of the recognition package, recipients are eligible to identify a not-for-profit organization to receive a grant for $5,000 (regional award) or $10,000 (national award). To date, $705,000 in grants has been distributed to 142 not-for-profit organizations across Canada.

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch

Service delivered by: Income Security and Social Development Branch and the Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

To promote the program, CVA relies on informal partnerships with stakeholders from the volunteer and not-for-profit sector and internal government stakeholders. A key alliance has been the relationship with Volunteer Canada.

Other key stakeholders include:

  • the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
  • Community Foundations Canada
  • the Fédération des centres d'action bénévole du Québec
  • Charity Village
  • Imagine Canada
  • Canada Helps
  • the Volunteer Management Professionals of Canada
  • the Prime Minister Youth Council
  • the New Horizons for Seniors Program
  • the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (now Reaching Home), and
  • Accessible Canada

Additionally, many of the program’s past recipients and regional reviewers willingly and enthusiastically promote the program when asked.

The sector is constantly evolving; the CVA program keeps abreast of new stakeholders by networking and building relationships through continuous outreach.

14. Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative


The Government of Canada is committed to advancing diversity and supporting initiatives that recognize the contributions of Black Canadians and acknowledge the significant and unique challenges in their communities.

In 2018, Canada officially recognized the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. In proclaiming this Decade, Canada committed to take positive measures to address longstanding and systematic racism issues affecting its Black Canadian populations in the areas of recognition, justice and development.

Budget 2019 provided $25 million over 5 years (2019 to 2020 until 2023 to 2024) for the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI), which includes planned investments in:

  • capital assistance projects to support Black community organizations to provide safer and better services for their clients
  • Black-led intermediaries to fund capacity building of smaller community organizations
  • knowledge building and engagement (Systems Change), and
  • emerging priorities, including an expert service provider

Under this initiative, Black communities and the Government of Canada will have strengthened foundational infrastructure capacity and overall knowledge in a few key areas:

  • Governance and financial management tools and processes
  • Black community organizations’ ability to contribute to public policy making
  • Research, data and policy analysis done through an anti-Black racism lens
  • Better understanding of the history and intersectionality of Black and racialized communities
  • Increasing and diversifying funding streams, and
  • Sharing of knowledge and best practices, and collaborations around common priorities with sustainability in mind

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

Key stakeholder groups include:

  • numerous not-for-profit organizations serving Black Canadians across Canada
  • SBCCI intermediaries (such as Black Business Initiative, Le Groupe 3737, and Tropicana). Work is underway to add a 4th intermediary from Western Canada in order to strengthen the ecosystem of support geographically and nationally)
  • Service Expert Provider: Network for the Advancement of Black Communities

15. Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education


The Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education (PMAs for ECEs) honours outstanding and innovative early childhood educators who excel at fostering the early development and socialization of the children in their care and at helping build the foundation children need to have the best possible start in life.

Early childhood educators are eligible for 2 awards:

  • the Certificate of Excellence, and
  • the Certificate of Achievement

Certificate of Excellence awards are worth $5,000 and are shared equally between the winning educators and their childcare settings.

Certificate of Achievement awards are worth $1,000 and are given directly to recipients.

The childcare setting in which the recipient works also receives a certificate recognizing its support of, and contribution to, the educator's achievement.

The awards are administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development on behalf of the Prime Minister, and in partnership with:

  • ESDC
  • Indigenous Services Canada, and
  • the Public Health Agency of Canada

Policy lead: Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Social Policy Directorate

16. Emergency Community Support Fund


Community organizations are on the frontlines, serving critical community needs both in times of stability and crisis. Many vulnerable Canadians, such as seniors, children and youth at risk, people with disabilities, women, racialized communities such as Black Canadians, people experiencing homelessness, and members of the LGBTQ2 community rely on these organizations, and that reliance often rises in times of hardship. They provide meals to isolated seniors, services to children and youth at risk, shelter for the homeless, support for those fleeing domestic abuse, addiction counselling, settlement services for recent immigrants, and countless other contributions.

The Government of Canada has implemented temporary initiatives to support charitable and non-profit organizations in addressing COVID-19-related issues, including the Emergency Community Support fund (ECSF). Launched on May 19, 2020 and funded through the Social Development Partnerships Program – Children and Families (SDPP-C and F), the Government of Canada invested $350 million through the ECSF to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations that deliver essential services to those in need. The Fund worked with 3 national intermediaries: the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and Community Foundations of Canada, to deliver this funding for over 11,500 projects. These intermediaries channeled funds through their regional and local partners to local community organizations who support a wide range of vulnerable populations.

Examples of activities of funded community organizations included:

  • increased volunteer-based home deliveries or transportation services (for example delivery of medications or accompanying/driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments)
  • scaled up help-lines that provide information and support (for example increasing access to the 211 service of the United Way)
  • provided training, supplies and other supports required so that volunteers can continue to make their invaluable contribution to the COVID-19 response, and
  • replaced in-person one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through means like phone calls, texts, teleconferences or the internet

The SDPP-C and F is established under the authority of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act and is administered by ESDC.

Policy lead: Income Security and Social Development Branch

Service delivered by: Program Operations Branch

List of key stakeholders

The key stakeholders are the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and Community Foundations of Canada.

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