Archived – The National Child Benefit Progress Report 2007

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Chapter 3
The First Nations National Child Benefit Reinvestment Initiative

The First Nations of Canada are unique in many respects, with distinctive cultural, social, and economic characteristics; moreover, their members represent the youngest and fastest growing segment of the national population. While much progress has been made over the years in bettering the conditions of life for their people, in many communities significant social, health, and economic problems persist, impacting especially on the children of low-income parents who cannot access the financial and social resources needed to provide for their children’s physical, emotional, and social well-being and development.

Since the inception of the National Child Benefit (NCB) in 1998, First Nations and the federal government have partnered in establishing and promoting the First Nations National Child Benefit Reinvestment (NCBR) initiative with the aim of providing opportunities for children of low-income parents to develop more fully their potential as healthy, active, and contributing members of their communities.

The First Nations NCBR has the overall goals of reducing the extent of child poverty and creating greater opportunities for low income parents to participate in the work force. These goals are achieved through two social measures: (1) income benefits for low income families with children to enable them to meet their children’s developmental needs adequately, and (2) reinvestment funds for the operation of projects that will help these families and children to achieve independence and self sufficiency.

Low-income families with children in First Nations communities are entitled to receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), including the National Child Benefit (NCB) Supplement, and provincial child benefits in accordance with the same income and other eligibility requirements that apply to off-reserve populations.

Reinvestment funds are obtained from adjustments to income assistance programs. Many provinces and territories have integrated their income assistance programs with the NCB by reducing income support benefits in amounts equal to NCB Supplement payments received by families. The savings to the income assistance program constitute the funding available for projects aimed at lessening child poverty. First Nations administering authorities employ the same income support schedules as their provincial/territorial counterparts, and similarly have reduced the benefits payable to parents in receipt of the NCB Supplement (total family income does not decrease). The amount of available reinvestment funds is calculated regionally, according to the procedures followed by the provincial and territorial governments.

The reinvestment decision-making process includes consultations with the people of the community. Generally, the approach taken is to prioritize the service needs, identify services that are under supplied relative to those needs, assess developmental possibilities in terms of available funding and staffing resources, and create the operational structures that will deliver the benefits to the people who need them. The types of projects funded vary from First Nation to First Nation, and cover a wide range of services according to the needs and preferences expressed by the communities themselves. This flexibility is an important feature of the initiative, as it permits each First Nation to implement projects that not only are targeted at alleviating child poverty but are also culturally relevant and responsive to the unique characteristics of the community.

Reinvestment funds may be used to enrich existing services or to create new services. Many projects operate exclusively with First Nations NCB reinvestment funding; however, where available reinvestment funding is not sufficient in itself, a First Nation may seek out additional financial resources to meet the total cost of a project, for example, from Brighter Futures, Canada Manpower, band revenue, daycare funding, or employment-creation programs.

Project activities may directly address children’s needs, e.g., through school nutrition projects or reinforcing cultural knowledge and values, or more indirectly, to parents, by upgrading employment qualifications or improving parenting skills. The projects are categorized into five broad activity areas: child care; child nutrition; support to parents; home to work transition; and cultural enrichment. Descriptions of each activity and related quantitative data are available in Appendix 2.

Table 5 shows the total First Nations NCB reinvestment and investment envelope from 1998-1999 to 2007-2008.

Table 5 - First Nations: NCB Reinvestments and Investments
Year Total ($ millions)
1998-1999 30.1
1999-2000 50.2
2000-2001 54.3
2001-2002 57.0
2002-2003 56.0
2003-2004 53.2
2004-2005 55.1
2005-2006 58.0
2006-2007 (estimate) 52.7
2007-2008 (estimate) 54.8

Table 6 outlines the First Nations reinvestments and investments by region from 2004-2005 through to 2007-2008.

Table 6 - First Nations: NCB Reinvestments and Investments by Region A note is located after the table
2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008
Expenditures Expenditures Estimates Estimates
Region ($000) ($000) ($000) ($000)
Atlantic Reference a is located after the table 3,908 2,574 2,044 2,044
Quebec 3,315 3,134 3,045 3,100
Ontario 8,856 9,168 9,117 10,000
Manitoba Reference b is located after the table 0 0 0 0
Saskatchewan 19,763 22,710 21,180 22,328
Alberta 9,423 10,080 9,283 9,200
British Columbia 6,919 6,604 6,491 7,214
Yukon 566 345 720 720
Sub-total 52,748 54,614 51,880 54,606
Additional Investment Envelope Reference c is located after the table 2,379 3,434 780 240
Total 55,127 58,048 52,660 54,846
  • Reference a from the above table Figures for the Atlantic region only includes First Nations in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
    Reference b from the above table Effective January 2004, Manitoba fully discontinued the practice of recovering the NCB Supplement from families receiving income assistance, including First Nations families. As a result of flowing through the NCB Supplement to families, funds are no longer being recovered for reinvestment.
    Reference c from the above table The additional investment envelope includes funding to reimburse Saskatchewan and the Yukon for the portion of provincial/territorial children's benefits paid on reserve.
    Note from the above table Notes: Totals may not add due to rounding.

Table 7 shows the number of NCBR projects that have been operated by bands each during the period from 2003-2004 to 2006-2007.

Table 7 - First Nations: Number of NCB Reinvestments Projects by Region
Number of Projects
Region 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007
Atlantic Reference a is located after the table 7 18 17 9
Quebec 64 99 109 105
Ontario 52 202 248 485
Manitoba 99 0 0 0
Saskatchewan Reference b is located after the table 72 180 218 645
Alberta 157 187 331 285
British Columbia 959 873 449 457
Yukon 13 10 7 5
Total 1,423 1,569 1,379 1,991
  • Reference a from the above table Limited to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
    Reference b from the above table The number has increased due to the revised reporting method used by Saskatchewan.

Monitoring and Reporting: First Nation Component

The NCB Governance and Accountability Framework sets out accountability requirements for all National Child Benefit partners. First Nations report annually to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) on activities and results related to funding under the reinvestment component. Using this information, and its own records, INAC prepares and distributes annual progress reports as required by the Treasury Board Secretariat. The reports provide background information on the purposes and structure of the reinvestment component, as well as descriptions of the progress being made by First Nations in implementing the initiative, with examples of the kinds of projects that have been carried out. Expenditure and impact data are included. The annual reports are available at the National Child Benefit Reinvestment Initiative in First Nations Communities website at Web site of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Proposal Development and Reporting Guide

The Proposal Development and Reporting Guide, developed in collaboration with First Nations NCB administrators, assists First Nation communities with the proposal process for approval of reinvestment projects as well as to outline annual reporting requirements. An electronic version is available at Web site of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The Guide provides detailed information on:

  • Steps involved in planning and processing a proposal, including accessing funding, roles and responsibilities of staff, writing the proposal, a proposal checklist, and submitting the proposal. A proposal template is included in the guide.
  • Reporting requirements, including time frames for reporting and information required for the First Nations NCB Annual Report on Reinvestment.
  • Background information on the NCB Initiative.

National Child Benefit Reinvestment Initiative National Manual

The NCB Reinvestment National Manual was developed to provide direction to departmental regional officials and First Nations administrators on the interpretation and implementation of terms and conditions related to the reinvestment initiative.  The manual is an ongoing document which is updated as necessary; the current version is available at the INAC NCB website: Web site of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Review of Activities in First Nation Communities

A review of NCB Reinvestment activities conducted by an independent consulting firm was released in 2005. The review, which was based on interviews with administrators from thirty‑seven communities, examined community consultation processes; project administration and evaluation strategies; levels of community awareness and satisfaction with the NCB Reinvestment initiative, resource distribution between target groups; the flexibility of design parameters; and suggestions for improvement to the initiative.

Suggested improvements from participants included (1) increasing networking opportunities for NCBR administrators to share information with their peers; (2) providing for longer-term approval of projects, beyond one year; and (3) confirming an expected duration of the initiative to reduce uncertainty regarding its longevity.

First Nations NCB Reinvestment Conference

In November 2006, First Nations NCB Reinvestment administrators from all regions of Canada attended a national gathering in Toronto. The goals were to share information on reinvestment success stories, provide opportunities to network with colleagues from across the country, discuss the potential to enhance/revise the NCB Reinvestment activity area definitions, and obtain feedback on a draft resource/tool for a longer-term approval of NCB reinvestment projects.

Observations

The goals of reducing the extent of child poverty and giving low income parents opportunities to participate more fully in the work force and in the life of the community are being significantly realized as a result of the leadership and efforts of First Nation governments, organizations, and individuals in implementing the First Nations reinvestment component.

The benefits of the First Nations NCBR Initiative for children, families, and communities may be summarized as follows:

  1. The reinvestment component has allowed First Nations to establish developmental, cultural, and social programs and services that would not, for lack of funding, otherwise exist in their communities. These services have improved the conditions of life for low-income families and their children, and enabled their greater participation in economic, social, and cultural activities.
  2. The adaptability of the reinvestment component has afforded local government wide scope for the creation of projects that are especially responsive to the specific social conditions and ills of their own communities. So long as their projects are in accord with NCB objectives, First Nations are able to focus the resources on their own prioritized needs.
  3. Cultural enrichment activities funded by NCB Reinvestments have raised awareness of local traditions, values, social organization, and economic life, fostering a sense of pride and individual self esteem for the members of the community.
  4. Because responsibility for the planning, development, and delivery of services, as well as the reporting of project activities and expenditures, is carried by the First Nations themselves, local officials and administrators have developed transferable managerial knowledge and skills that will continue to benefit their communities in the longer term.
  5. The initiative reinforces the thrust of the Government of Canada and First Nations governments, organizations, and individuals to develop self governing, self determining, and self reliant communities.

The demonstrated success of the NCB Reinvestment Initiative stands as an example of the progress that is being made by the Government of Canada and First Nations in their shared effort to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples.


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