Skills and Partnership Fund: Terms and conditions for contributions

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The Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) will enable Indigenous organizations to expand employment opportunities for Indigenous people across Canada. Modeled on the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership (ASEP) and designed to complement the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), the SPF will address gaps in the ability to respond to the magnitude of training required to ensure maximum Indigenous participation in and benefit from existing and emerging economic development opportunities across Canada.

SPF aims to improve employment outcomes for Indigenous people, promotes alignment to government priorities (federal and provincial/territorial), and strategic partnerships. It will be an active, entrepreneurial and innovative instrument, which will continue to focus towards a demand-driven, partnership-based program, encourage performance across the network, and address cases of low capacity or need in depressed regions, leading to employment. The SPF will also facilitate leveraging of federal-provincial-territorial and business investment, improving program effectiveness, efficiency and overall reach.

SPF is an application-based, project-driven initiative that complements the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) in that it will encourage innovations in Indigenous training-to-employment and service delivery. SPF will drive change, encourage new approaches to labour market training, and improve employment outcomes by:

  • supporting innovative projects to prepare and train Indigenous people for the demands of the Canadian labour market
  • requiring the development of partnerships and leveraging of private sector and federal-provincial-territorial funding to maximize SPF investments
  • testing new service delivery models to embed long-term program improvements

Building on a partnership-based model, tested by ASEP and the Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund (ASTSIF), and with a focus on improving employment outcomes, SPF projects could incorporate:

  • training-to-employment:
    • job-specific education
    • skills training and apprenticeships
    • job retention counseling
    • job supports, including child care
    • targeted training for specific client groups (for example, youth, women, persons with disabilities, urban, rural)
    • self-employment programming
    • targeted employer partnerships with small and medium enterprises
  • job focused, essential skills training:
    • for multi-barriered clients, leading to employment
  • service delivery improvement:
    • for innovative business processes
    • case management
    • human resource training for service providers
    • development of training tools and work support tools
    • policy development and collaboration
    • partnership development
    • collaboration for greater economies of scale

1. Authority

The Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) is established under the authority of section 7 of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act, which provides that the Minister may, in exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions assigned by the Department of Employment and Social Development Act, establish and implement programs designed to support activities or other activities that contribute to the development of human resources of Canada and the skills of Canadians, and the Minister may make grants and contributions in support of the programs.

The mandate of the Minister (for example, the powers, duties and functions assigned by the ESD Act to the Minister) is set out in section 5 of the ESD Act. Subsection 5(1) provides that “the powers, duties and functions of the Minister of Employment and Social Development extend to and include all matters relating to human resources and skills development in Canada over which Parliament has jurisdiction and which are not by law assigned to any other Minister, department, board or agency of the Government of Canada”. Subsection 5(2) further provides that that “the Minister shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned by subsection (1) with a view to improving the standard of living and quality of life of all Canadians by promoting highly skilled and mobile workforce and an efficient and inclusive labour market”.

The SPF relates to the mandate of the Minister of Employment and Social Development.

In 2010, Cabinet authorized the development of SPF.

2. Objectives and outcomes

2.1 Purpose

The purpose of SPF is to increase the number of Indigenous people integrated into the Canadian labour market.

SPF supports the Government of Canada’s goal of developing “a skilled, mobile and productive workforce” as stated in Budget 2015.

SPF links to Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) overarching mission of supporting Canadians in making choices that help them live productive and rewarding lives, and improving Canadians’ quality of life, as well as the following strategic outcome as stated in the Departmental Performance Measurement Framework and Program Activity Architecture:

  • a skilled, adaptable and inclusive labour force and an efficient labour market

2.2 Objectives

The objective of SPF is to enable Indigenous organizations to experiment and to be innovative by using partnerships to create appropriate labour market products and services for Indigenous people.

SPF’s objective will be achieved by functioning as an innovative, partnership-driven complement to the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Strategy (ASETS) that fosters more integrated, harmonized, training-to-employment models or acts as a catalyst for the formation and testing of innovative new partnerships in Indigenous labour market development. SPF activities will emphasize joint stewardship and coordination consistent with the Aboriginal Economic Development Framework. Through access to SPF funding, a wider range of Indigenous organizations will deliver Indigenous labour market programming, serving to embed collaboration and maximize leveraging opportunities with industry, federal-provincial-territorial partners, and Indigenous partners.

2.3 Expected outcomes

The expected outcomes of SPF are:

  • increased number of Indigenous people integrated into the labour market
  • clients complete job-specific training to fill current and emerging employment opportunities
  • clients secure and retain employment
  • increased employability of clients

2.4 Key performance measures

SPF has an evergreen performance measurement strategy. Progress toward objectives is measured through performance measures as established in the performance measurement strategy.

The following key performance indicators are used to measure relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of programming, and to support progress monitoring, reporting by management and evaluation:

  • number of clients served (by age and gender)
  • number and proportion of clients who successfully complete an Employment Action Plan to clients served (by age and gender)
  • number and proportion of clients served who become employed/self-employed without wage subsidies (by age and gender)
  • number of clients that after a specified employment duration (example: 3, 6, 12 months) after leaving or completing an intervention are employed, unemployed, return to school or are continuing in an intervention
  • other performance measures as appropriate according to a specific project

3. Eligible recipients

Indigenous organizations are eligible recipients under the SPF program. This may include incorporated for-profit and not-for-profit Indigenous controlled organizations, Indigenous controlled unincorporated associations, Indian Act bands, Tribal Councils and Indigenous self-government entities. An organization may be eligible for multi-year agreements, based on the strength of the project proposal.

4. Eligible activities

SPF will fund innovative Indigenous labour market development activities that:

  • pilot innovations in service delivery and systems through partnership
  • respond to economic and partnership opportunities with targeted labour force development initiatives
  • address program delivery weaknesses and/or gaps in Canada’s network of Indigenous organizations that provide labour market services
  • policy development/consultation in support of relationship-building, partnerships, consultation, and/or key Indigenous priorities related to increased employment and skills development. This may include development of proposals, position papers, strategies, dissemination of best practices and engagement in joint policy development and program initiative

Activities must demonstrate partnership with the private sector, not-for profit, and/or public sector organizations (for example, cost-sharing with employers, provincial/territorial governments, and/or other organizations)

Eligible activities could include:

  • 1) Training-to-employment such as:
    • job-specific education
    • skills training and apprenticeships
    • job retention counselling
    • job supports including child care for parents participating in labour market programming
    • financial incentives to encourage individuals to accept employment
    • targeted programming (for example, youth, women, persons with disabilities, urban, rural, off-reservation)
    • self-employment programming
  • 2) Skills development such as:
    • essential skills training for multi-barriered clients in partnership with organizations that serve multi-barriered clients
    • training for youth on how to find jobs
    • build skills, explore career options and plan for the future
    • entrepreneurship training to help individuals start and manage their own business
    • work experience opportunities
  • 3) Service improvement such as:
    • innovative business processes to improve service delivery to Indigenous clients
    • innovations in client-focused service delivery and case management
    • human resource training for service providers
    • development of training tools and work support tools
    • initiating and sustaining federal, provincial, municipal, not-for-profit and private sector partnerships
    • coordination with and among ASETS agreement holders, sub- agreements, points of service and other service providers to identify opportunities for greater economies of scale

5. Eligible expenditures

Eligible expenditures are those considered necessary to support the purpose of the funding.

Eligible project costs under SPF include:

  • project administration and overhead costs such as wages and benefits, rental of office space, telephones, etc. that are directly related to the administration or delivery of the project
  • equipment rental (capital asset purchases may be allowed where it can be demonstrated to be more cost-effective over the life of the project) such as computers, office equipment, etc.
  • materials and supplies directly related to the project
  • cost associated with printing, translation and dissemination of project reports
  • communications activities and material including promotional material and activities, through print, web-based and other media
  • costs related to clients such as counselling, mentoring, skills testing and needs evaluation, pre-employment training, post-secondary training, apprenticeship training, technical training, on site training, literacy, essential skills training
  • income support for clients such as allowances, wage subsidies, accommodation and transportation
  • cost for the provision of food to participants in training activities where it provides nourishment that is considered to contribute to the participants’ successful completion of their training
  • costs of client wages and the employer’s share of employment-related costs for clients
  • professional fees related to audit, evaluation and assessment
  • professional fees for expertise not available through the organization or partners (individuals receiving a salary from the sponsoring or partner organizations are not eligible to be paid as consultants). This may include fees for services provided by Indigenous elders
  • travel within Canada that is directly related to the project activities
  • other costs necessary to support the purpose of the funding, as approved by Employment and Social Development Canada

The total administration costs, including those of third party organizations, should not exceed 15% of the total contribution. Administration costs over 15% of the total contribution amount may be permitted in special circumstances, provided the justification is reasonable and the costs have been negotiated in advance and approved by Canada.

6. Stacking limits

Where possible and appropriate, the costs of an eligible activity will be shared with the recipient and/or with government and/or the private sector. However, where the sharing of costs with the recipient and private sector are not feasible, total government funding (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal funding for the same eligible expenditures) must not exceed 100% of eligible expenditures.

7. Method of determining funding amount

An appropriate funding amount is determined through the proposal assessment process described in Section 10.

Funding amounts for contributions are determined based on factors including:

  • scope and duration of activities
  • validation of reasonableness and fair market value of proposed expenditures
  • importance of projected expenditures to success
  • reasonableness of overall cost given projected outcome(s)
  • other sources of funding

Proposed costs are assessed based on the department’s experience and analysis and changes negotiated where necessary to ensure that the level of funding is the minimum necessary for attainment of the results expected of the recipient.

8. Maximum amount payable

The maximum level of financial support approved per project or initiative will not exceed $10 million per year. Financial support will be negotiated and where possible and appropriate, costs will be shared by recipients and/or other stakeholders.

9. Basis of payment

Payments to contribution recipients are made via regular progress payments based on reimbursement of eligible expenditures; or via advance payments based on a cash-flow forecast.

Payments to contribution recipients will be made based on the assessed level of project risk and the known capacities of the recipient and will be one or a combination of the following:

  • a) achievement of predetermined performance expectations or milestones (program area to describe performance expectations or milestones)
  • b) reimbursement of eligible expenditures
  • c) the attached costing formula (program area to provide details of formula)

Contribution funding for Indigenous recipients with multi-year agreements may be provided in the form of flexible funding, which means that during the period of the funding agreement such recipients in certain circumstances may retain unexpended funding remaining at the end of each fiscal year, except the last, for use in the next fiscal year to further achieve results towards the program objective. Any unexpended funding remaining at the expiry of the funding agreement constitutes a debt due to the Crown.

In all cases, final payment follows receipt of the final accounting of eligible expenditures and the total amount of the contribution will not exceed eligible expenditures actually incurred or the portion of incurred expenditures eligible pursuant to the terms of the agreement.

10. Information required in application and criteria for assessment

Applications will be accepted through regular and transparent intake processes. Intake processes may include solicited, unsolicited and targeted applications.

10.1 Information required in application

Applications will:

  • state specific objectives, including milestones and/or outcomes to be achieved within the period covered by the agreement
  • describe the activities to be undertaken
  • provide an estimate of expenditures to be incurred with cash flow forecast, and describe contributions from the applicant and other partners
  • provide information on the applicant, sufficient to demonstrate eligibility and capacity to undertake activities and attain objectives
  • declare amounts owing in default to the Government of Canada

10.2 Criteria for assessment

Assessment is, at a minimum, based on:

  • the degree to which proposed activities support program objectives and priorities
  • the need for proposed activities
  • the qualifications and track record of the applicant
  • demonstration of support required for success
  • value for money

11. Information required for financial and performance reporting

Financial and performance reporting requirements are based on risk as determined through the Department’s Risk Assessment, Management and Mitigation strategy. The nature and frequency of reporting is specified in each contribution agreement. Recipients are required to submit progress reports that outline activities completed and demonstrate progress towards achievement of results; and financial reports (including a final financial report) that account for the use of the funding and identify contributions from all sources towards eligible costs. All contribution recipients are required to submit final reports containing information on results achieved as required for the performance management strategy and departmental reporting.

12. Official languages

SPF is committed to respecting its obligations under the Official Languages Act.

To respect the obligations of the Government of Canada under Part VII and Part IV of the Official Languages Act, where it has been determined that:

  • a) the target clientele who are eligible to participate in a project to be carried out by the recipient is composed of members of both official language communities
  • b) the anticipated demand for project assistance by the target clientele in both official languages justifies the use of both official languages, the department requires the recipients, other than other orders of government, to:
    • (i) make any announcements to the public concerning the project in both official languages
    • (ii) actively offer project-related services to members of the public in both official languages
    • (iii) make available in both official languages any documents or other information for the general public relating to the project
    • (iv) encourage members of both official language communities to participate in the project
    • (v) provide its services, when appropriate, in such a manner as to accommodate the specific needs of both official language communities

13. Effective date of terms and conditions

These amended Terms and Conditions will come into effect on April 1, 2016.

14. Redistribution of contributions

In projects involving the further distribution of the contribution by the recipient to one or more persons or entities, the agreement will make clear that the recipient has independence in the choice of those persons or entities, with minimal guidance from ESDC, and will not be acting as the agent for the government in making the distributions.

The terms of written agreements between the recipient and persons or entities to receive distributed payments should address:

  • the responsibilities agreed between the parties, including financial roles and responsibilities
  • provisions for oversight, reviews and audits to be conducted by the recipient
  • provisions for departmental access to the documents and premises of persons or entities that received distributed payments for the purpose of monitoring compliance with the funding agreement
  • description of the redress provisions regarding decisions of the recipient relating to persons or entities that applied for or received distributed payments

15. Intellectual property

Intellectual Property created by a recipient will remain the property of the recipient. Where it is to the advantage of Canadians, and not detrimental to the goals of the recipient, ESDC may negotiate the shared use of intellectual property developed by recipients or through a third party. The rights to use this material may include further use of data for research purposes and/or publishing the intellectual property on ESDC’s web site or in printed documents and publications.

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