National three-year service strategy 2015-2017

Table of contents

Message from Deputy Minister Hélène Laurendeau

As we all know, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is committed to working together to make Canada a better place for Indigenous and northern people and communities. More than this, we are in an ongoing process of reconciliation: building a new relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canadians with the goal of moving toward a better future for all.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy demonstrates our commitment to effective service management and to advancing services that meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, while maximizing operational efficiency.

The Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy will initially focus on the areas with the greatest impact on individual clients:

INAC is committed to increasing timeliness and the ease of access of people using INAC Canada services. We will use the strategy as a tool to help us toward a more service-oriented approach. Doing so will require that we reorient the way we do business to further understand how they are received from the perspective of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

The road toward service modernization is a continuous journey. INAC will set standards that are attainable, affordable and meaningful to our clients. Our service strategy will help to shape business to a service model that is more digital, centered on individual needs and conscious of the various channels in which individuals may access services (in person, by phone, by mail or online). More specifically, our goal is to articulate a service model that is centered on the individual and that maximizes modern technology to provide a seamless and efficient means of accessing services. We are also dedicated to developing, monitoring and reporting on service standards. We will continue our commitment to transparent management, accountability for results and citizen-centered service delivery.

I know that INAC has some of the most committed employees in the federal government, and I call upon you to help us achieve our vision of "individual-centered services for Indigenous peoples and northerners" in a context in which services are delivered and provided in a manner that is modern, convenient, effective, and efficient.

Our vision: Individual-centered services for Indigenous peoples and northerners

People today expect to receive services that are efficient, effective, timely and conveniently available. At INAC, we are striving to meet these expectations, and we are committed to our vision of providing "individual-centered services for Indigenous peoples and northerners" by ensuring that services are delivered to individuals in the way they want them, when they want them, and how they want them, whether this means online and mobile friendly, or by more traditional channels, such as mail, phone or in-person. This is particularly important for INAC, where services are required by over 1.4 million Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals living in diverse situations and locations, and over 600 First Nation communities.

We have already begun shifting toward this vision and the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy will help us achieve our vision faster by working together to identify priority services and IT solutions, and by changing our existing culture to a more individual-focused approach.

As part of our goal to provide individual-centered services, INAC has identified three priority services that we will focus on in the first phase of implementation:

Other services will be identified moving forward as priority services will be reviewed annually.

Supporting this overall approach, the Treasury Board's Policy on Service came into effect October 1, 2014, and has 10 requirements and implementation dates that are to be phased in over three years. INAC's vision mirrors the goals of the policy: to provide client-centric service and operational efficiency; and to create a culture of service management excellence. The strategy is evergreen and outlines what selected service improvement initiatives INAC intends to implement over a multi-year period.

Mandate and context

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada supports Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and northerners in their efforts to:

INAC is one of 34 federal government departments responsible for meeting the Government of Canada's obligations and commitments to First Nations, Inuit and Métis. While INAC delivers services directly to individuals under some of its programs, most of INAC's programs, representing the majority of its spending (including over $6 billion in grants and contributions), are funding programs under which INAC provides funding, through funding agreements, to First Nations, Indigenous organizations and provinces and territories that provide services to individuals and communities.

INAC serves a population of over 1.8 million Indigenous peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. While some people live in urban centres, others live in isolated communities without road access. Our service strategy has to respond to these diverse needs.

Progress to date

INAC is making significant progress toward meetings its vision of becoming an individual-centric service provider, but more work remains to be done. For example, a service inventory has been developed, which is key to supporting the identification of service improvement initiatives. INAC has conducted a Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats and Risk analysis relating to service delivery. We also have a learning roadmap, employee orientation and Indigenous awareness training in place that we encourage all staff to access. As part of this strategy, we plan to raise awareness and review training opportunities for possible improvement by October 2016.

However, some challenges remain. A key risk identified in INAC's service risk analysis is that the distribution of programming across a broad range of partners can make service interactions numerous and time-consuming for recipients. To ease the burden on recipients of INAC funding, INAC intends to continue to explore options to jointly, with other departments, provide funding to Indigenous organizations so that they can benefit from single-window approaches to receiving funding. For example, INAC will continue to work with Health Canada to offer joint agreements to common funding recipients, among other initiatives.

An existing departmental executive committee, the Service Excellence Working Group, comprised of headquarters and regional representatives, leads Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy. Our plan focuses primarily on the three priority services.

Services covered by the service management strategy

INAC has identified 54 services for its Service Inventory. Treasury Board Secretariat defines a service as "provision of a specific final output that addresses one or more needs of an intended recipient and contributes to the achievement of an outcome." Of these services, the following three have been identified as priorities for phase one of implementation:

These were chosen based on the volume of service transactions and the fact that they involve direct service transactions with individuals (versus transactions that are government to government).

INAC is taking a staged approach to the implementation of the policy on service. As part of the evolution of the Service Management Strategy, INAC will work with other government departments and the Treasury Board Secretariat to determine whether other services should be included as priority services, including managing funding agreements in the future.

Registration and Secure Certificates of Indian Status

These are bundled due to the similarity in client needs and objectives.

An individual registered under the Indian Act is referred to as a Registered Indian (also referred to as Status Indians).  Status Indians are entitled to a wide range of programs and services offered by federal agencies and provincial governments. As such, registration and Secure Certificate of Indian Status issuance is critical to individuals since it identifies those eligible to receive key programs and services. INAC serves a tremendous number of clients yearly in this area. As an example, in 2014-2015, there were 21,672 Status Indians registered, 3,306 files were processed for entitlement and 30,381 files were processed for Secure Certificate of Indian Status. Here are some activities that are being undertaken in the next five years to improve the service experience for individuals as they apply for registration Secure Certificate of Indian Status, for example:

  • continue integration of business processes for registering applicants and issuing the Secure Certificate of Indian Status into one seamless process
  • increase awareness of the Secure Certificate of Indian Status among eligible applicants across Canada, clarify the documentation requirements so that applicants better understand what they need to provide
  • continue training of Indian Registration Administrators every year and implement improvements by developing a modular training that can be accessed online to ensure that they are equipped to provide a good service experience to their communities
  • standardize processes across the country and adopt a central workload management strategy to offer consistent standards of service to clients no matter where they live or which channel they use to submit their request
  • implement a modernized case management IM/IT system to:
    • allow the provision of electronic services
    • allow automatic data transmission through the Canadian Digital Interchange project led by the Treasury Board Secretariat
    • provide client-centric services to individuals for all their life events (e.g. births)

Integrated client information access points (departmental 1-800 number and website)

INAC currently has three key channels that individuals can access if they are looking for a single-window access point for information about INAC:

  • online
  • by telephone
  • by email

The INAC website is a key touchpoint for information for individuals online, along with departmental social media sites, such as Facebook/Twitter. INAC also has a generic 1-800 number that individuals can call to get in-person help that applies to all services INAC provides. The email channel is also available for enquiries for information via the following address:

Initiatives that will be undertaken in the next three years in these areas are outlined in the appended detailed service improvement plan, and include a collaborative project with Service Canada and other government departments to ensure that recipients can access information on INAC programming on the departmental website, but can also access a hyperlink (clearly highlighted on the INAC site) allowing them to "one-stop shopping" and have access to all the programs and services across the Government of Canada for which they are eligible at a single convenient access point online (using and improving on Service Canada's existing "single-window" platform as a starting point).

Open government

The proactive release of data and information is the starting point for all other open government activity. Accordingly, the Government of Canada has firmly established an "open by default" position in its mandatory policy framework by issuing the Directive on Open Government.

INAC recognizes that a culture shift is required internally to organize and review INAC's information in a new light with the ultimate goal of releasing information so that INAC can be proactively transparent and open as a means of being accountable to Canadians.

Following this service strategy's aim for individual-centered services "by ensuring that services are delivered to individuals in the way they want them, when they want them, and how they want them…", INAC will be looking to engage various other levels of government and groups to ensure that the data and information INAC releases is of value to Canadians, and more specifically, Indigenous peoples and northerners.

More information about Open Government and how INAC will implement it can be found in the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Open Government Implementation Plan (OGIP) 2015.

Continuous improvement

INAC, in partnership with its clients and stakeholders, will map out an action plan reflecting the 10 requirements of the TBS Policy on Service. The action plan will further examine risks and resource impacts on INAC.

As previously mentioned, the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy will be an evergreen document that will be reviewed yearly (in alignment with the business planning cycle) to ensure that INAC continues on its journey of service improvement.

To ensure that we are making progress, engagement with First Nations is planned in 2016-2017 to examine progress and areas for improvement. These discussions will be bundled with meetings on other departmental initiatives for the maximum convenience of participants.

In addition, our front-line employees (either at the call centre on working directly with individuals and bands) will be key to the implementation of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy as both ambassadors of INAC, but also to provide valuable feedback to INAC on continuous improvement.


The Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's National Three-Year Service Strategy supports the vision aligning INAC's business to a service model that is more digital, centered on individual needs, and conscious of the various channels in which individuals may access services (in person, by phone, by mail or online). The various initiatives outlined in this strategy all support the same goal: a service model that is centered on the individual and that maximizes 21st century technology available to provide a seamless and easy service experience to accessing services. The road to this model may be challenging, but meeting our goals, as outlined in this service strategy, will prove beneficial to our recipients.

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