Ministry overview

Ministry’s vision

The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs (IAO) mandate is to: lead strategic Indigenous policy for Ontario by coordinating cross-government initiatives that improve outcomes for Indigenous people; lead provincial negotiations of Indigenous land claims; and support economic and community development for Indigenous partners.

Ministry contribution to priority outcomes

The ministry’s strategic direction is focused on three areas:

  • Promoting Economic Opportunities for Indigenous Employment, Economic and Community Development
    • Lead the development of the government’s policy agenda for Indigenous people and communities.
    • Provide funding to directly support economic development, jobs and prosperity for Indigenous people and communities, including Indigenous community participation in land and resource consultation and engagement.
    • Inform and lead policy and program initiatives which support Indigenous community development and economic sustainability, including the response to the impacts of COVID-19.
    • Contribute to the development and implementation of operational strategies and options for critical infrastructure development in the North.
    • Inform policy and program development through data, research, and performance measurement.
    • Improve access to Ontario government programs, services and information for Indigenous people by working with other ministries and Indigenous organizations.
  • Make Meaningful Health and Social Improvements in the Lives of Indigenous People
    • Facilitate and support the design, delivery and evaluation of the range of health and social programs and services across ministries that support Indigenous communities and organizations, including responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Provide funding to support Indigenous communities and organizations to improve social conditions on and off reserve including community capital projects.
    • Build strong relationships and work with Indigenous partners to address joint issues and priorities.
    • Lead the response to social emergencies in First Nation communities through formalized processes.
    • Coordinate mandatory Indigenous Cultural Competency Training for all OPS employees to help public servants develop more inclusive policies and programs that consider the distinct needs of Indigenous peoples.
    • Coordinate a cross-ministry approach to ensure the safety, health, and wellbeing of Indigenous women and girls.
    • Assess implications of and opportunities in federal legislation, policies and commitments for Indigenous communities and organizations in Ontario.
  • Address Ontario’s Legal Obligations on Treaties, Land Claims, Land Related Matters, and the Duty to Consult
    • Lead the resolution of land and land-related claims with First Nations and other Indigenous communities in Ontario.
    • Monitor First Nation and Métis community issues that may lead to legal or direct action, as well as lead or support Ontario’s response.
    • Provide expertise and direction to legal counsel in litigation on matters related to Indigenous communities.
    • Enhance awareness of Indigenous people, issues and best practices for engaging with Indigenous people.
    • Provide funding to Indigenous communities to participate meaningfully in negotiations on claims.
    • Lead implementation of land and land-related settlements and support implementation of Indigenous litigation settlements.
    • Support ministries to ensure Ontario’s Duty to Consult obligations are met.

COVID-19 response

  • On March 25, 2020, as part of the province’s economic and fiscal update, the government announced $17 billion in support under Ontario's Action Plan: Response to COVID-19. Of which, IAO received $16.4 million to address the unique needs of Indigenous people and communities.
  • IAO’s funding is being used to support COVID-19 pandemic planning, prevention and mitigation efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous people and communities, particularly those in the province’s remote and far-northern regions.
  • The funding is also supporting urban Indigenous people in financial need, costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations, as well as funding to address emergency planning and self-isolation needs for First Nations.
  • IAO continues to coordinate a multi-level government response by working closely with Indigenous partners and with federal departments to identify the most pressing needs in Ontario First Nations and Indigenous communities and to confirm the most responsive actions.

Ministry programs

IAO works to create lasting wellness and prosperity with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Ontario to help make reconciliation meaningful to people.

Promoting economic opportunities for Indigenous employment, economic and community development

  • Working with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to engage First Nations leadership in a refocus of the Far North Act to reduce red tape and promote economic development for First Nations in the Far North including the Ring of Fire.
  • Working with the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM) and MNRF to move forward with resource revenue sharing from mining, forestry and aggregates to help Indigenous communities share in benefits from resource development.
  • Leading the enhancement of the Aboriginal Procurement Program to increase government procurement opportunities for Indigenous businesses to help ensure Ontario is open for business.
  • Working across ministries on an approach to refreshing the government’s approach to Indigenous economic development, including launching an Indigenous Economic Response and Recovery Group (IERRG) that will provide input and perspectives on how government can best support Indigenous business owners and workers affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Working with the ENDM to support the development of operations and strategies related to the Ring of Fire area, including implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement with supportive First Nations, participating in community identification and the application of consultation frameworks.
  • Working with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), MNRF, and ENDM to develop a cross-government strategy to address roads and related infrastructure in the North and remote North, including all-season roads, highway twinning and highway safety.
  • Working with the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), other partner ministries, and the federal government to engage Indigenous communities and organizations on the legalization of recreational cannabis in Ontario, including undertaking discussions to explore on-reserve approaches that advance mutual priorities.
  • Working with the Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) and ENDM in implementing Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan to improve and expand broadband, digital services and cellular access in unserved and underserved areas, including remote and rural First Nations.
  • Working with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to engage First Nation communities and leaders on tobacco and potential new partnerships regarding on-reserve approaches to tobacco regulation.
  • Collaborating with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) on engaging Indigenous organizations in the province’s approach to transforming employment services, skills training and apprenticeship.
  • Working with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Cultural Industries (MHSTCI) and key Indigenous tourism organizations in developing and implementing the province’s tourism plan.
  • Working with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) to incorporate Indigenous considerations into the refreshed Poverty Reduction Strategy.
  • Supporting the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT) to enhance opportunities for Indigenous people around entrepreneurship, business reconciliation, exporting and innovation.
  • Through the New Relationship Fund:
    • Supporting the participation of Indigenous communities and organizations in meaningful consultation and engagement with government and the private sector on land and resource matters; and,
    • Increasing economic development and skills training opportunities and enabling long-term lands and resource planning in participating Indigenous communities.
  • Through the Indigenous Economic Development Fund:
    • Breaking down the economic barriers facing Indigenous people across Ontario including lack of access to capital, limited employment/skills training opportunities and community capacity challenges; and,
    • Supporting Indigenous businesses and initiatives that are creating employment and training opportunities.
  • Through the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program:
    • Supporting the construction, renovation and/or retrofit of Indigenous community infrastructure projects (on-and off-reserve) that contribute to economic development, job creation and create positive social benefits for the community.
  • Through the Participation Fund:
    • Supporting the capacity and development of urban Indigenous organizations and services providers, including creating a regularized forum for communication and coordination on mutual priorities;
    • Relaunch of the Relationship Tables with First Nations Provincial Territorial Organizations to support organizational capacity, issues resolution and priorities impacting the member of communities of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Anishinabek Nation, Grand Council Treaty #3, Independent First Nations, and the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians; and,
    • Support urban priorities through new relationships with Tungasuvvingat Inuit and the Ontario Urban Indigenous Coalitions in Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Toronto, and Ottawa.

Make Meaningful Health and Social Improvements in the Lives of Indigenous People

  • Collaborating with ministries and Indigenous partners to inform policies, legislation and programs that improve the quality of life for Indigenous people in Ontario in the areas of child and family services, health, mental health and addictions, emergency response, education and justice.
  • Supporting government commitments that address community safety and well-being of Indigenous peoples including:
    • The Ministry of Health and other ministries, in delivering on the investment of $3.8 billion in mental health and addictions; and,
    • The Ministry of the Solicitor General in the implementation of the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 and the development of Regulations that will better enable improved First Nation police services in Ontario.
  • Continuing to work across ministries and with Indigenous partners to address the recommendations from the Seven Youth Inquest that were directed at the province to support the safety and wellbeing of Indigenous students who attend school in Thunder Bay.
  • Continuing to assess and review implications and opportunities of federal legislation, policies and commitments for Indigenous communities and organizations in Ontario.
  • Providing advice and assistance to ministries regarding engagement and relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and organizations.
  • Providing advice and analysis to ministries regarding recognition of Aboriginal rights, assertion of jurisdiction, and governance matters for First Nations and Métis.
  • Providing advice relating to federal rights-related policies and legislation, and technical support in federally-led self-government discussions or negotiations regarding provincial responsibilities and interests.
  • Co-leading with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), work across provincial ministries and with federal and Indigenous partners to develop a response to the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
  • Working with provincial, federal and Indigenous partners to lead the development and implementation of protocols and supporting guides, tools, and training which improve government response to emergencies in First Nation communities.
  • Coordinate and/or support government response to emergencies in First Nations communities – including COVID-19, by working with the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC), other Ontario ministries, Indigenous partners, and federal government departments.
  • Tracking and monitoring social emergencies in First Nations communities in collaboration with PEOC.
  • Tracking and monitoring natural disasters and critical infrastructure failures in First Nations communities in collaboration with the PEOC.
  • Engaging federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners on practical opportunities that will improve socio-economic conditions for First Nations in the North, including water quality, energy transmission, Ring of Fire, infrastructure, employment development, and health and mental health.

Addressing Ontario’s Legal Obligations on Treaties, Land Claims, Land Related Matters and the Duty to Consult

  • Working with ministries, Indigenous communities, municipalities and industry to ensure consultation obligations are understood and met, including:
    • Working across government, to lead and develop operational guidance, tools, training and other supports which address the day-to-day needs of ministries in meeting the duty to consult, and which support consistent and coordinated engagement with Indigenous partners on policy and program initiatives.
  • Issue new guidelines that provide practical and sound advice in order to improve consistency and coordination as ministries fulfil their Duty to Consult.
  • Researching and assessing 10 land claim assertions.
  • Continuing to make progress on the 52 claims accepted for negotiation and any new claims accepted for negotiation.
  • Working to carry out Ontario’s commitments in implementing an additional 12 claim settlements that have been successfully negotiated.
  • Working across government, to monitor First Nation community issues and coordinate Ontario’s response.
  • Working with Ministry partners, where possible, to seek negotiated solutions to issues currently under litigation.

COVID-19 response

IAO is coordinating a multi-level government response to COVID-19 by working closely with Indigenous partners and with federal departments to identify the most pressing needs in Ontario First Nations and Indigenous communities and to confirm the most responsive actions.

  • The Ministry has identified four specific streams of funding to assist Indigenous people and communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are:
    • People and the distribution of goods: support access to emergency relief and goods such as food, basic household goods, baby supplies, as well as transportation of these goods and medical care workers.
    • Awareness and Prevention: addresses communities’ communication needs, which includes enhanced public health measures, translation, communications tools and products, and outreach to vulnerable groups.
    • Pandemic Planning: helps to build regional and community capacity for culturally appropriate community and pandemic planning, including Community Health coordination and the implement existing emergency plans.
    • Self-Isolation facilities: enables First Nations communities to work with private or public facilities to repurpose as self-isolation facilities and to support the purchase of appropriate supplies and equipment.
  • IAO is also providing enhanced funding to urban Indigenous service providers to support their vulnerable clients, such aslow-income, elderly and homeless Indigenous individuals, to receive necessities that they otherwise would not be financially or physically able to access, such as food, medical and pharmaceutical supplies.
  • IAO is continuing to listen to feedback from First Nations and Indigenous partners on program funding design and guidelines to ensure funds are accessed quickly and efficiently and directed where they are needed most.
  • Ontario has recently developed a central command structure within government to help streamline Ontario’s response to COVID-19. This command structure includes a number of sector-specific tables that facilitate cross-ministry issues such as food security, health supplies, and vulnerable populations. IAO co-chairs the cross-functional table on vulnerable populations, which has been developing an action plan for congregate care settings address COVID-19 challenges.
  • This ministry is working to build upon existing programs and human capacity within Nishnawbe Aski Nation and other remote, northern First Nations to raise awareness and provide seamless communication in Indigenous languages regarding COVID-19.

2020-21 strategic plan

  • IAO’s strategic plan demonstrates a commitment to effectively using public funds, providing greater value for money, and supporting government policies, while the ministry supports Indigenous peoples and communities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Over the 2020-21 fiscal year, the ministry aims to continue delivering on its vision to create lasting wellness and prosperity with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Ontario to help make reconciliation meaningful to people.
  • IAO maintains its strategic approach, which is focused on:
    • Economy: to create lasting Indigenous economic prosperity by increasing access to employment, skills training, capital, and education;
    • Partnerships: strengthening relationships among government ministries and Indigenous communities to achieve better service delivery and advance socio-economic opportunities;
    • Rights and Interests: continue to negotiate and settle land claims, meet the Duty to Consult and participate in discussions on jurisdiction; and,
    • People: maximizing available resources for responsive programs, services and infrastructure for Indigenous people and organizations, and to reduce barriers to advance Indigenous employment and wealth creation.
  • The ministry anticipates some risk in its ability to deliver its regular programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, through working closely with Indigenous communities and organizations, as well as with key ministry partners and the federal government, IAO will continue to adapt its programs to ensure funds are directed to where they are needed most.
  • IAO will continue to make progress on its modernization initiatives in order to find efficiencies while also maintaining funding for critical initiatives and scaling-back and reprioritizing transfer payment programs that have manageable risk.

Table 1: Ministry Planned Expenditures 2020-21 ($M)

COVID-19 Approvals11.00
Other Operating68.21
Capital3.00
Total82.22

Ministry Allocation of 2020-21 Base Spending by Standard Account ($82.2M)

Transfer Payments: $56,408,900

69%

Salaries & Benefits: $16,362,114

20%

Transportation & Communications: $1,029,300

1%

Services (less Recoveries): $8,146,600

10%

Supplies & Equipment: $267,500

0%

Other Transactions: $1,000

0%

Ministry Allocation of 2020-21 Base Spending by Vote Item ($82.2M)

Indigenous Affairs: $57,407,200

70%

Ministry Administration: $9,314,200

11%

Capital: $3,001,000

4%

Land Claims & Self Government: $2,000

0%

Statutory Appropriation: $1,491,014

2%

Detailed financial information

Table 2: Combined Operating and Capital Summary by Vote

Votes/ProgramsEstimates 2020-21 $Change from Estimates 2019-20 $%Estimates 2019-20 * $Interim Actuals 2019-20 * $Actuals 2018-19 * $
Operating Expense - Ministry Administration9,314,200(2,737,100)(22.7)12,051,30013,019,71113,558,196
Operating Expense - Indigenous Affairs68,407,20011,019,80019.257,387,40055,858,95659,246,857
Operating Expense - Land Claims and Self-Government Initiatives2,000N/AN/A2,00014,102,000187,000,000
Total Operating Expense to be Voted77,723,4008,282,70011.969,440,70082,980,667259,805,053
Operating Expense - Statutory Appropriations1,491,0148,0000.51,486,0145,206,01430,122,230
Ministry Total Operating Expense79,214,4148,290,70011.770,923,71488,186,681289,927,283
Consolidation Adjustment - General Real Estate PortfolioN/A2,273,000N/A(2,273,00)N/A(3,057,649)
Consolidation Adjustment - Ontario Infrastructure and Lands CorporationN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(7,061)
Total Including Consolidation and Other Adjustments79,214,41410,563,700N/A68,650,71488,186,681286,862,573
Operating Assets - Accounts Receivable1,000N/AN/A1,0001,000N/A
Total Operating Assets to be Voted1,000N/AN/A1,0001,000N/A
Ministry Total Operating Assets1,000N/AN/A1,0001,000N/A
Capital Expense - Ministry of Indigenous Affairs3,001,000(500,000)(14.3)3,501,0003,501,0002,946,747
Total Capital Expense to be Voted3,001,000(500,000)(14.3)3,501,0003,501,0002,946,747
Ministry Total Capital Expense3,001,000(500,000)(14.3)3,501,0003,501,0002,946,747
Consolidation Adjustment - General Real Estate PortfolioN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A(255,730)
Total Including Consolidatin and Other Adjustments3,001,000(500,000)(14.3)3,501,0003,501,0002,721,017
Ministry Total Operating and Capital Including Consolidation and Other Adjustments (not including Assets)82,215,41410,063,70013.972,151,71491,687,681 289,583,590

* Estimates, Interim Actuals and Actuals for prior fiscal years are re-stated to reflect any changes in ministry organization and/or program structure. Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update.

Historical Trend Analysis

Historic Trend Analysis DataActuals 2017-18 $Actuals 2018-19 $Estimates 2019-20* $Estimates 2020-21 $
Ministry Total Operating and Capital Including Consolidation and Other Adjustments (not including Assets)1,208,483,045289,583,59072,151,71482,215,414
 N/A-76%-75%14%

For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs incurred expenses totalling $289.6 million, a decrease of 76% over 2017-18 Actuals. This significant difference year-over-year is the result of accrued liabilities in 2017-18 associated with the commitment to settle a number of Indigenous land-related claims.

The increase to IAO's budget in 2020-21 is mainly due to planned initiatives to help support Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For additional financial information, see:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/expenditure-estimates
https://www.ontario.ca/page/public-accounts
https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/marchupdate/index.html
http://budget.ontario.ca/2020/contents.html

Ministry organization chart

  • Minister
    • Deputy Minister
      • Legal Services Branch
      • Corporate Management Division
        • Corporate Management Branch
        • Strategic Human Resources Business Branch
      • Indigenous Relations and Programs Division
        • Programs and Services Branch
        • Indigenous Relations and Ministry Partnerships Branch
      • Negotiations and Reconciliation Division
        • Divisional Services Unit
        • Negotiations Branch - Northeast and South
        • Negotiations Branch - Northwest
      • Strategic Policy and Planning Division
        • Strategic Initiatives Social Policy Branch
        • Strategic Planning and Economic Policy Branch
      • Communications Services Branch
      • Land and Resources I & IT Cluster*

Effective March 31, 2020 *metrics reporting relationship to OOCIO, MNRF, MECP, OMAFRA, and MENDM

Highlights of 2019-20 results

IAO is committed to improving outcomes for Indigenous Peoples in Ontario. In 2019-20, the ministry:

  • Supported the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM) in moving forward with three resource revenue sharing agreements signed with 31 First Nation signatories represented by with Grand Council Treaty #3, Wabun Tribal Council and Mushkegowuk Council. The province has made the first payments under these resource revenue sharing agreements, totaling over $24.8 million from eligible forestry and mining revenues, which will enable First Nations to share in the economic benefits of forestry and mining operations near their communities.
  • Supported job creation by providing $3 million to the Métis Voyageur Development Fund, one of Ontario’s most successful Aboriginal Financial Institutions that uses Ministry funds to provide loans and grants to Métis businesses and entrepreneurs across the province. Since it began operations in 2012, the Métis Voyageur Development Fund has distributed over $27 million in loans and grants to Ontario Métis entrepreneurs and businesses, leveraged over $25 million in additional funding, and helped create or sustain over 480 jobs.
  • Increased procurement opportunities with the provincial government for Indigenous businesses through the Aboriginal Procurement Program. The Program has directly supported over 100 new procurements valued at over $34 million for Indigenous businesses in Ontario since 2015.
  • Provided funding to support a broadband research study of selected remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario to determine usage, limitations and opportunities for supporting enhanced connectivity in unserved and under-served regions of the province.
  • Working with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, supported an update of the Ontario Aboriginal Business Survey with analysis of how businesses are performing compared to provincial and national baselines, procurement, export readiness, workforce and performance measures.
  • Negotiated a tripartite agreement and related protocols between Canada, Ontario and First Nation partners - Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty #3 & Mushkegowuk Council - and responded to 17 declarations of a social emergency and 12 requests for emergency assistance by First Nation communities due to social crises
  • Worked with ministries on assessing the impacts and opportunities for Indigenous communities and organizations in the development and implementation of policies, legislation, and programs in a broad range of areas including economic development, land and resource development, community self-regulation on tobacco and cannabis, broad health system transformation, mental health and addictions, poverty reduction, child welfare, Far North planning, social assistance, employment and skills training, community and supportive housing, seniors and accessibility, land use planning, heritage and culture, anti-racism, community safety and policing and justice.
  • Provided significant support to ministries in assessing and reviewing implications of federal legislation, policies and commitments on Indigenous communities and organizations in Ontario, including:
    • An Act Respecting Indigenous Languages (Bill C-91);
    • An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families (Bill C-92);
    • Federal support for Private Member’s Bill C262, An Act to ensure the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People;
    • Federally-led Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussion tables in Ontario; and,
    • Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • Supported cross-government application of the Urban Indigenous Action Plan – an Indigenous designed operational guide for ministries and the broader public sector including municipalities to use when developing policies, programs and practices that respond to the needs and priorities of urban Indigenous organizations and communities.
  • Worked across ministries and with Indigenous partners to continue to address the recommendations of the Seven Youth Inquest, including supporting the coordination of three political tables, one of which was attended by two provincial Ministers, and submitting Ontario’s annual progress report to the Office of the Chief Coroner. To date, the province has completed the majority of the recommendations directed at Ontario, with the remaining in progress.
  • Completed the development of the Indigenous Youth Leading Youth Anti-Racism Program Guide and Training Materials. The program was designed by NORDIK at Algoma University with the input from an Indigenous Youth Advisory Circle, which included representation from First Nations and Inuit youth and elders. The program engages non-Indigenous youth audiences through interactive, age-appropriate workshops led by trained Indigenous youth facilitators.
  • Hosted the annual Treaties Recognition Week including facilitating 200 living library events in over 70 different communities including three First Nations Libraries. This year saw double the number of post-secondary schools involved, and five French school boards also participated for the first time.
  • IAO expanded the Living Library program in 2019 to include public events in museums and libraries. These public events provided a venue for Ontarians to learn more about treaties in Ontario outside of a school environment.
  • Provided $14.5 million to Indigenous communities and organizations to support their participation in meaningful consultation and engagement with government and the private sector in lands and resources matters, through the New Relationship Fund.
  • Disbursed $8.2 million in support of increased access to skills training, Indigenous business growth and development, and Indigenous community economic development planning through the Indigenous Economic Development Fund.
  • Provided $3 million to support the construction, renovation and/or retrofit of Indigenous community infrastructure projects (on- and off-reserve) that contribute to economic development, job creation and social benefits to the community, through the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program.
  • Provided $1.9 million in funding through the Ontario Indigenous Representative Organization Fund to support Indigenous organizational capacity and development.
  • Facilitated mandatory Indigenous Cultural Competency Training for all Ontario Public Service employees. Since the program launched in February 2018, 56% of Ontario public service employees have been registered for the training which will continue until 2021. This training will provide public servants with increased capacity and awareness to deliver critical programs and services to Indigenous communities.
  • Supported effective self-isolation in remote and northern First Nation communities by enabling communities to contract with private or public facilities for use for self-isolation.
  • Supported culturally appropriate COVID-19 pandemic planning in remote and northern Indigenous communities by developing standard community training and awareness protocols, and addressing community needs around access to food, water, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help reduce the risk of COVID-19.
  • Provided funding to urban Indigenous organizations service providers and the Métis Nation of Ontario to respond to needs for food, essential supplies and services in communities which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. Additional assistance was provided specifically for vulnerable people, including elders, single-parent families, those experiencing homelessness or hardship.
  • Coordinated with ministries and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) to provide funding to support people and the distribution of critical goods (medical supplies, etc.) to remote northern communities to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Coordinated with ministries and the federal government to respond to individual First Nations communities impacted by COVID-19 in a tailored and efficient manner.
  • Weekly engagement with Indigenous leadership to coordinate the response to COVID-19 and respond to community identified issues as they arise.

Appendix: 2019-20 annual report

The Ministry of Indigenous Affairs overview

In 2019-20, the ministry played a leading role in strategic Indigenous policy for Ontario, leading cross-government initiatives that improved outcomes for Indigenous people, led the provincial negotiation of Indigenous land claims, and supported economic development for Indigenous partners.

2019-20 Results

In 2019-20 the ministry took steps to develop a robust fiscal strategy to deliver on the government’s priorities while continuing to restore accountability and trust. The ministry worked with Indigenous partners to reduce red tape and administrative costs, to enable renewed focus on delivering programs and services that make a difference in the lives of Indigenous people. The ministry achieved the following results:

  • Collaborated with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to work with the federal government to make sure that First Nation communities have safe, sustainable drinking water.
  • The Special Advisor for Indigenous Affairs participated at numerous Indigenous meetings and events, and advised the Minister on economic, social and jurisdictional issues affecting Indigenous communities, while continuing to serve as a liaison on behalf of the Premier and the Minister with Indigenous communities. Some of the events the Special Advisor participated in include:
    • The Assembly of First Nations – Special Chiefs Assembly
    • Anishinabek Nation/Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) – Annual Fall Assembly
    • Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) – 48th AGA
    • Chiefs of Ontario – All Ontario Chiefs Conference
    • Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (Sand Point First Nation) – Coming Home/National Aboriginal Day Event
    • Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians – Annual General Assembly, and;
    • Special Advisor’s Northern Tour to Fort Albany and meetings with Chapleau Cree, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat First Nations and Mushkegowuk Tribal Council, March 2019.
  • Advised ministries on engagement and consultation with Indigenous communities for a range of provincial policy initiatives and legislation.
  • Worked with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and First Nation communities and organizations on tobacco regulation by supporting projects to explore on-reserve approaches to tobacco regulation undertaken by the Anishinabek Nation, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, and Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.
  • Supported the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) in introducing an allocation of cannabis retail stores on First Nations reserves, and in introducing regulatory amendments to allow for the authorization of up to 26 stores on First Nations reserves.
  • Supported MAG and other partner ministries in conducting engagement and information sharing with Indigenous communities and organizations on the legalization of cannabis, including undertaking discussions with interested communities to explore approaches to cannabis regulation that advance mutual priorities.
  • Hosted the annual Treaties Recognition Week including facilitating 200 living library events in over 70 different communities including three First Nations Libraries. This year saw double the number of post-secondary schools involved, and five French school boards also participated for the first time.
  • IAO expanded the Living Library program in 2019 to include public events in museums and libraries. These public events provided a venue for Ontarians to learn more about treaties in Ontario outside of a school environment.

Promoting Economic Opportunities for Indigenous Employment, Economic and Community Development

  • Provided $14.5 million to Indigenous communities and organizations to support their participation in meaningful consultation and engagement with government and the private sector in lands and resources matters, through the New Relationship Fund.
  • Disbursed $8.2 million in support of increased access to skills training, Indigenous business growth and development, and Indigenous community economic development planning through the Indigenous Economic Development Fund.
    • A project example is Miziwe Biik Employment and Training’s Indigenous Adult Career Exploration Program. The Program will help prepare Indigenous people for apprenticeship opportunities in the plumbing, carpentry and construction trades. 
  • Provided $3 million to support the construction, renovation and/or retrofit of Indigenous community infrastructure projects (on- and off-reserve) that contribute to economic development, job creation and social benefits to the community, through the Indigenous Community Capital Grants Program.
  • Provided $1.9 million in funding through the Ontario Indigenous Representative Organization Fund to support Indigenous organizational capacity and development.
  • Supported the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM) in moving forward with three resource revenue sharing agreements signed with 31 First Nation signatories represented by Grand Council Treaty #3, Wabun Tribal Council and Mushkegowuk Council. The province has made the first payments under these resource revenue sharing agreements, totaling over $24.8 million from eligible forestry and mining revenues.
  • Supported job creation by providing $3 million to the Métis Voyageur Development Fund, one of Ontario’s most successful Aboriginal Financial Institutions, which uses Ministry funds to provide loans and grants to Métis businesses and entrepreneurs across the province. Since it began operations in 2012, the Métis Voyageur Development Fund has distributed over $27 million in loans and grants to Ontario Métis entrepreneurs and businesses, leveraged over $25 million in additional funding, and helped create or sustain over 480 jobs.
  • Increased procurement opportunities with the provincial government for Indigenous businesses through the Aboriginal Procurement Program. The Program has directly supported over 100 new procurements valued at over $34 million for Indigenous businesses in Ontario since 2015.
  • Provided funding to support a broadband research study of selected remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario to determine usage, limitations and opportunities for supporting enhanced connectivity in unserved and under-served regions of the province.
  • Working with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, supported an update of the Ontario Aboriginal Business Survey with analysis of how businesses are performing compared to provincial and national baselines, procurement, export readiness, workforce and performance measures
  • Supported ENDM in the development and implementation of operational strategies, guidance and options related to consultation and community identification in the Ring of Fire development area.
  • In addition to working with the MNRF and the federal government on the Pikangikum Whitefeather Forest Initiative, IAO provided support to develop a youth co-operative sawmill and purchase of a portable sawmill. This project is a partnership with Pikangikum Chief and Council and will enable youth to learn about the production of lumber for local and regional markets, provide direct work experience and business planning training for youth aged 18 to 30 in the community. The sawmill is considered a social enterprise, giving back to the community by providing firewood to Elders, building picnic tables and eventually developing the expertise required to complete small home repairs.

Make Meaningful Health and Social Improvements in the Lives of Indigenous People

The ministry continued to work to close the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people by working with other ministries in the development of policies, programs and initiatives that address the unique needs of and provide support for Indigenous people.

  • Coordinated Ontario’s response to four social emergencies and seven critical infrastructure failures and/or natural disasters.
  • Facilitated a year-long collaboration between the OCAD University and the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) which resulted in a showcase of Indigenous culture and history.
  • IAO continues to lead the implementation of the Indigenous Cultural Competency Training for the Ontario Public Service (OPS) using the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training Program.
    • The training addresses the pervasive effects of colonization and aims to ensure that public servants have increased capacity and knowledge to work with Indigenous communities and leaders to develop and deliver policies, programs and services.
    • To date, approximately 56% of OPS employees have been registered in the program.
    • A bi-annual data report was completed in September 2018 and found that 83% of participants indicated they would use what they learned during the training in their daily work.
  • Worked with ministries on assessing the impacts and opportunities for Indigenous communities and organizations in the development and implementation of policies, legislation, and programs in a broad range of areas including economic development, land and resource development, community self-regulation on tobacco and cannabis, broad health system transformation, mental health and addictions, poverty reduction, child welfare, social assistance, employment and skills training, community and supportive housing, seniors and accessibility, land use planning, heritage and culture, anti-racism, community safety and policing and justice.
  • Provided significant support to ministries in assessing and reviewing implications of federal legislation, policies and commitments on Indigenous communities and organizations in Ontario, including:
    • An Act Respecting Indigenous Languages (Bill C-91)
    • An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families (Bill C-92)
    • Federal support for Private Member’s Bill C262, An Act to ensure the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
    • Federally-led Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination discussion tables in Ontario
  • Worked across ministries and with Indigenous partners to continue to address the recommendations of the Seven First Nations Youth Inquest, including supporting the coordination of three political tables, one of which was attended by two provincial Ministers, and submitting Ontario’s annual progress report to the Office of the Chief Coroner. To date, the province has completed a majority of the recommendations directed at Ontario, with the remainder in progress.
  • Completed the development of the Indigenous Youth Leading Youth Anti-Racism Program Guide and Training Materials. The program was designed by NORDIK at Algoma University with the input from an Indigenous Youth Advisory Circle, which included representation from First Nations and Inuit youth and elders. The program engages non-Indigenous youth audiences through interactive, age-appropriate workshops led by trained Indigenous youth facilitators.
  • Provided $30,000 to support the Pikangikum First Nation for start-up costs and furnishings required to operate the Pikangikum Transitional Housing Facility. This facility will allow the Ministry of Attorney General and the Ontario Provincial Police to house offenders/accused in a supervised facility and improve the public safety in the community. The community believes that this new facility may help mitigate the high suicide rates in Pikangikum and help to reduce the crime rate in the community by supporting individuals at risk of re-offending or experiencing homelessness.
  • Supported effective self-isolation in remote and northern First Nation communities by enabling communities to contract with private or public facilities for use for self-isolation.
  • Supported culturally appropriate COVID-19 pandemic planning in remote and northern Indigenous communities by developing standard community training and awareness protocols, and addressing community needs around access to food, water, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help reduce the risk of COVID-19.
  • Coordinated with ministries and Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) to provide $1M in funding to support people and the distribution of critical goods (e.g., medical supplies, etc.) to remote northern communities to help address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Address Ontario’s Legal Obligations on Treaties, Land Claims, Land Related Claims, and the Duty to Consult

The ministry continued to address Ontario’s outstanding legal obligations on land claims and land-related disputes with Indigenous people with the goal of achieving lasting settlements through a non-litigated negotiation process.

  • In 2020, Ontario and the Flying Post First Nation ratified a settlement of the First Nation’s outstanding land entitlement under Treaty 9. This settlement resolves a historical matter in a manner that creates economic growth opportunities for the First Nation and helps to create a stable climate for local business and other interests.
  • In 2020, Ontario agreed to enter into negotiations with Wahnapitae First Nation to resolve an outstanding boundary claim.
  • In 2020, a land transfer agreement between Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, Ontario, and Canada was fully ratified. Implementation of this agreement will see the former Ipperwash Park lands returned to Canada to be set apart as reserve for Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.
  • In 2020, an agreement between Pays Plat First Nation, Ontario, and Canada to transfer land to the Pays Plat First Nation was fully ratified. Implementation of this agreement will result in lands being added to the existing reserve that will allow for community and economic development.
  • In 2020, an easement agreement between Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, Ontario and Canada was fully ratified. As a result, the 2012 Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation flooding claim settlement agreement is now fully implemented.
  • In 2019, Ontario agreed to enter into negotiations with Shawanaga First Nation to resolve an outstanding boundary claim.
  • In 2019, the boundary claim settlement entered into between Fort William First Nation, Ontario, and Canada in 2011 was fully implemented.
  • IAO has led the coordination of Ontario’s response to community issues across ministries, including the facilitation of supports for First Nations, funding a Regional Emergency Summit, encouraging the active participation of the federal government in responding to the Summit’s recommendations.

Table 3: Ministry Interim Actual Expenditures 2019-20

 Ministry Interim Actual Expenditures ($M) 2019-20 *
COVID-19 Approvals1.4
Other Operating86.8
Capital3.5
Staff Strength ** (as of March 31, 2020)138.02

* Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update.

** Ontario Public Service Full-Time Equivalent positions.