Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

The department is responsible for two mandates, Indian and Inuit Affairs and Northern Development, which together support Canada's Aboriginal and northern peoples in the pursuit of healthy and sustainable communities and broader economic and social development objectives.

Working together to make Canada a better place for Aboriginal and northern people and communities

The Indian and Inuit Affairs mandate derives from the Indian Act and its amendments over the years, from specific statutes enabling modern treaties, such as the Nisga'a Final Agreement Act or the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act, and from more recently enacted statutes, among which are statutes like the First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act and the First Nations Jurisdiction Over Education in British Columbia Act, designed to provide First Nations with jurisdictional powers beyond the Indian Act. A significant amount of the department's mandate is derived from policy decisions and program practices that have developed over the years; it is framed by judicial decisions with direct policy implications for the department; and it is structured by funding arrangements or formal agreements with First Nations and/or provincial or territorial governments.

Under Indian and Inuit Affairs, INAC negotiates comprehensive and specific land claims and self-government agreements on behalf of the Government of Canada; oversees implementation of claim settlements; delivers provincial-type services such as education, housing, community infrastructure and social support to Status Indians on reserves; manages land; and executes other regulatory duties under the Indian Act.

In recent years, the department's responsibilities for the planning and co-ordination of government-wide activities relating to Aboriginal and northern priorities have been expanded, including, in particular, INAC's new role in Aboriginal economic development activities, and in the development of the government's Northern Strategy. Over the planning period, there will be a further expansion of INAC's government-wide policy development activities relating to Aboriginal and northern priorities.

The INAC Minister is also the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and is responsible for the Office of the Federal Interlocutor. The Office of the Federal Interlocutor uses its relationships and partnerships with other federal departments, other governments, Aboriginal representative organizations and community leaders to raise awareness of the circumstances of Métis, Non-Status Indians and urban Aboriginal people, and to increase opportunities for their improved participation in the economy and society.

The Inuit Relations Secretariat was established in 2005 to serve as a focal point for Inuit issues and to advocate for the inclusion of Inuit-specific concerns in federal program and policy development. This Secretariat reports to the Deputy Minister and is the principal liaison with national and regional Inuit organizations.

The Northern Development mandate derives from statutes enacted in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act, 1970; from statutes enacting modern treaties north of 60°, such as the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, or self-government agreements, such as the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act; and from statutes dealing with environmental or resource management, and is framed by statutes that enact the devolution of services and responsibilities from INAC to territorial governments, such as the Canada-Yukon Oil and Gas Accord Implementation Act.

This makes INAC the lead federal department for two-fifths of Canada's land mass, with a direct role in the political and economic development of the territories, and significant responsibilities for resource, land and environmental management. In the North, the territorial governments generally provide the majority of programs and services to all Northerners, including Aboriginal people.

Finally, both mandates include an international dimension: INAC is actively engaged in international indigenous and circumpolar activities involving Aboriginal and northern organizations, states and international organizations.

Challenges and Responses

The Aboriginal population is one of the fastest-growing segments of Canadian society. The 2006 Census data show that the number of people who identified themselves as an Aboriginal person has surpassed the one-million mark. This growth is bringing with it ever-increasing demands for services as well as the opportunities that an educated, capable Aboriginal youth cohort can offer the labour force of tomorrow. Canada's North possesses unparalleled opportunities for resource development that will transform the lives of all Northerners, including Aboriginal people, the communities they live in, and Canada as a whole.

To contribute to Aboriginal and northern aspirations, the department needs to consider that some of Canada's Aboriginal and northern people live in isolated communities, while others are concentrated in, or in close proximity to, urban areas. As well, many Aboriginal communities, in the North in particular, are on the front line of environmental and climate change. At the same time, unparalleled opportunities are emerging for Aboriginal and northern communities, arising out of resource development, claims settlements, new program delivery arrangements, new legislative frameworks and, most importantly, out of the growing capacity of these communities to manage their own affairs and pursue their own priorities.

The strategic outcomes put forward in this planning document are designed to help accomplish Aboriginal and northern aspirations and priorities. The structural nature of these challenges, however, means they will not be overcome — and priorities will not be met — overnight. Accordingly, the objectives put forward in this plan should be seen as a continuing investment, one that aims at generating immediate, intermediate and end outcomes. Achieving the outcomes presented in this plan will also depend, in many cases, on factors beyond the direct control of INAC, including the priorities and timing of INAC's partners, the availability of resources, judicial decisions, and other unanticipated events and developments.

For INAC to ensure, as much as possible, the effectiveness of its planned activities, it must consider how to:

  • ensure that the department's programs evolve to respond to the many facets of Aboriginal and northern realities in effective and accountable ways;
  • build and nurture the partnerships necessary to achieve its strategic outcomes;
  • effectively implement past initiatives and agreements; and
  • ensure responsible and sustainable resource development in the face of rising concerns about climate change and the environment.

Evolution of INAC's Policies, Programs and Organizational Capacity

INAC is one of 34 federal departments and agencies involved in Aboriginal and northern programming. This many actors create challenges for ensuring that programs do not work at cross purposes, including within INAC since the department responds to a range of needs. Canada's Aboriginal and northern communities, as well as Canadian taxpayers, must get the full benefit of this investment.

For its part, INAC will continue its government-wide leadership on Aboriginal economic development. During the planning period, INAC will work with the Treasury Board Secretariat on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon panel on grants and contributions to develop new approaches to funding programs that will begin to improve the way Aboriginal individuals and communities are supported and will enhance program effectiveness and accountability.

To achieve the strategic outcomes planned for 2008–09 through INAC's own programs, the department will pursue the following:

  • innovation in priority areas like education and housing;
  • renovation of core program authorities to improve responsiveness to changing conditions and needs;
  • development of legislative frameworks that will empower Aboriginal Canadians and Northerners to make their own decisions, manage their own resources and support their community's development; and
  • special attention to ensuring that those Aboriginal people who are most vulnerable are protected and empowered, for example, by establishing family violence shelters and tabling legislation designed to protect the property rights of First Nations women in cases where relationships fail.

To ensure that the department has the capacity to pursue these strategic outcomes, INAC will develop more robust performance indicators focused on outcomes, make key advances in human resources development (stressing recruitment and establishing an Integrity, Values and Conflict Resolution Centre), strengthen information and resource management capacities in direct support of strategic outcome planning and enhanced stewardship of resources, and make new investments in communications activities aimed at raising public awareness about Aboriginal and northern realities and opportunities. In all of these activities, the department will emphasize strengthening core business practices to ensure the effective delivery of INAC programs, either directly by the department or through funding agreements and partnership arrangements.

Emphasis on Partnerships

The bulk of the department's programs are delivered through partnerships with Aboriginal communities, federal-provincial or federal-territorial agreements, or formal bilateral or multilateral negotiating processes.

Accordingly, during the planning period, INAC will pursue a number of initiatives aimed at making partnerships more effective, including: improvements in key claim and self-government negotiating processes, with an emphasis on specific claims; implementation of the federal government's Consultation and Accommodation Action plan; special attention to the implementation of modern treaties; close co-operation with First Nations in the implementation of recently enacted statutes aimed at giving expanded jurisdiction over monies and resources; and signing of federal-provincial-First Nations protocols on education, child and family services, and active income support measures.

The Office of the Federal Interlocutor will continue implementing the 2007–2012 Urban Aboriginal Strategy, an approach based on problem-solving partnerships with provincial governments, urban Aboriginal organizations, municipalities and other federal departments. As well, the Office of the Federal Interlocutor will lead collaborative efforts with a wide range of partners to respond to Métis rights, support tripartite governance arrangements for Métis and Non-Status Indians, and establish a research network to address relevant policy challenges.

The Inuit Relations Secretariat will launch the Inuit Research Agenda during the current planning period, and will commence negotiations on selected elements of the Inuit Action Plan to address education, economic development, youth and urban Inuit issues. Strengthening relations with the Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut regions will be a priority of the Inuit Relations Secretariat as well.

Implementation of the Northern Strategy

Land claim and self-government agreements with Aboriginal northern peoples, devolution of federal powers to territorial governments, prudent management of land and resources and ground-breaking private sector investment have positioned Canada's North for a period of unprecedented development.

Consequently, INAC, in partnership with other federal departments and stakeholders, will lead the development and implementation of an integrated Northern Strategy that will focus on strengthening Canada's sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting economic and social development, and improving governance so that Northerners have greater control over their destinies.

Focus on Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship

Aboriginal and northern Canadians have a fundamental relationship with the land and its resources. For years, they have been calling attention to the effects of climate change and demanding a broader, more sustainable approach to how all Canadians relate to the land. Increasingly, Aboriginal and northern Canadians will be major players in the development of Canada's resources. South of 60°, the reserve land base is expected to increase by over 55 percent between 1990 and 2010, and brings with it extensive mineral and other resources; north and south of 60°, land claims and self-government agreements entail Aboriginal control or participation in the management of large land masses, with resource and hydro development potential.

During the planning period, the department will act on a number of fronts to address these challenges. INAC's Sustainable Development Strategy will go through an evaluation to ensure it is effectively responding to priority issues. Major advances will be made in the areas of contaminated sites, environmental assessments, infrastructure challenges, and Aboriginal and northern resource management capacity and governance. Finally, INAC's Environmental Stewardship Strategy will receive further attention as a vehicle for co-ordinating the department's many efforts aimed at enhanced and sustainable management of lands and resources.

Expenditure Profile

Pie chart describing Planned Spending Breakdown

Text description of this pie chart
is available on a separate page.

Planned Spending Breakdown

Over 60 percent of departmental spending (3 of 17 program activities) is committed to basic services, such as education, social services and community infrastructure to provide access to provincial-type services.

Total Planned Spending — Explanation of Trend

The increase in spending from 2004–05 to 2007–08 is primarily due to:

  • payment to the Quebec Cree in 2007–08 to settle implementation issues respecting the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and related litigation;
  • incremental funding provided to meet the demand for ongoing First Nations and Inuit programs and services;
  • funding provided in Budget 2006 for priorities, including education, women, children, families, water and housing;
  • funding provided in Budget 2005 for First Nations housing and related infrastructure;
  • funding provided in Budget 2005 for the Mackenzie Gas Project;
  • funding provided in Budget 2004 for the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan; and
  • funding provided in Budget 2004 for Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development.
Graph depicting Spending Trend and planned spending

Text description of this bar graph
is available on a separate page.

Planned spending over the period from 2007–08 to 2010–11 diminishes mainly because of reductions related to the sunset of targeted funding, that is:

  • payment to the Quebec Cree to settle implementation issues respecting the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and related litigation;
  • funding provided in Budget 2005 for First Nations housing and related infrastructure;
  • funding provided in Budget 2005 for the Mackenzie Gas Project;
  • funding provided in Budget 2004 for the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan;
  • funding provided in Budget 2004 for Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development;
  • funding provided in Budget 2003 for the First Nations Water Management Strategy; and
  • funding profile for Budget 2008 announcements is not available beyond 2009-10.

2008-09 Main Estimates and Planned Spending

The 2008–09 Main Estimates for the department are approximately $6.3 billion. In addition, it is expected that adjustments of about $0.6 billion will be included in the 2008–09 Supplementary Estimates, resulting in total planned spending of approximately $6.9 billion.


Main Estimates and Planned Spending
Estimates ($ Millions)
2008–09 Main Estimates 6,267
Adjustments (planned spending not in Main Estimates)* 583
Total Planned Spending 6,850

*Includes Budget 2006/Budget 2007/Budget 2008 funding for priorities, including education, women, children, families, water/wastewater and economic development; incremental funding to accelerate the resolution of specific claims; payment to the Quebec Cree to settlement issues respecting the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and related litigation; funding for 2010 Olympic Legacy Agreements.


Allocation Methodology

Within the government planning and budgeting process, departments do not identify Internal Services (i.e. departmental management and administration) as a separate activity. These resources are attributed to strategic outcomes and program activities. This presents a challenge for INAC to provide a useful presentation of resources, given that it is primarily in the business of transferring funds to third parties for the delivery of programs and services meeting its objectives and mandate. As such, it has to ensure the proper administration of these transfers, undertake monitoring and accountability activities, and provide policy advice and other services (e.g., litigation management). It should be noted, however, that the proportion of INAC's total budget allocated to Internal Services amounts to less than 5 percent, which is comparable to other departments.

The department's Program Activity Architecture (PAA) is an articulation of how resources are managed and allocated, and how activities are organized to achieve results. Although INAC's PAA has five strategic outcomes, four of which include Program Activities that comprise the Northern Development Program, for ease of reference, all four Northern Development Program Activities are grouped together.

Program Activity Architecture

The Program Activity Architecture (PAA) of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada illustrates 17 main program activities and associated sub-activities by strategic outcome.

2009-2010 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
Program Activity Architecture

Strategic Outcome

Detailed description for 2009-2010 Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Program Activity Architecture Chart