Good afternoon, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to begin by thanking the members of the committee for inviting me here. I would like to take you through a quick update on the status of our work to implement the eight recommendations.
I'd like to acknowledge that we are gathered on traditional unceded Algonquin territory. This is particularly significant for these programs, the aboriginal skills and employment training strategy and the skills and partnership fund, which are delivered, as you know, in close collaboration with indigenous partners. As a result, we are co-developing the responses to the recommendations with indigenous peoples, which reflects our commitment to reconciliation and to advancing a renewed relationship based on respect, co-operation and partnership. We're convinced that this collaborative approach will allow our partners to better tailor the programs to the unique and diverse needs of their clients and their communities.
We are applying all of the lessons from the previous programs in the implementation of the recommendations as we shift to the newly announced indigenous skills and employment training program announced in the budget and also as we continue to make improvements to the SPF, the skills and partnership fund.
Recommendation 1 refers to the need for a performance management strategy with clearly defined indicators and targets. Since this spring, we've been engaging with our partners across this country on a distinctions basis to co-develop a new performance management strategy. The new framework focuses on measuring the program objectives to reduce the skills gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people by 50% and the employment gap by 25%. It includes strengthened indicators and enhanced reporting on post-program results.
We will also provide new tools and training to partner organizations to support their implementation of this more robust approach. We are on track to have that new co-developed performance measurement framework in place when the new program launches in April of 2019.
Recommendation 2 focuses on working in collaboration with agreement holders to identify, collect, confirm and analyze program data. In September, more than 150 people participated in a national data workshop to work through the collection of data and the management and analysis of that information to support results measurement.
Indicators of success are being co-developed to ensure that the outcomes of the program are meaningful to the individual communities and organizations that deliver the program. We are also on track to put the data and tools in place to support improved reporting on results and inform the design of interventions and services by April 1, 2019.
Recommendation 3 refers to funding allocation. As you know, budget 2018 provided additional investments of approximately $99.4 million per year. We have been working with indigenous organizations to develop an allocation approach for these new funds on the basis of distinctions-based funding streams. Allocations will consider factors such as current employment rates, unemployment gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous populations, and population density and growth. This new allocation model is on track to be implemented by the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Recommendation 4 speaks to the potential for overlap between programs and with the provinces and territories.
While both ASETS and the SPF have the objective of improving indigenous employment, we are confident they are complementary in design and approach. We will ensure the new ISET, like its predecessor ASETS, will also be complementary with the SPF.
With respect to provinces and territories, under the terms of the labour market transfer agreements, we have regular bilateral discussions on program complementarity. We have increased the emphasis on indigenous programming, with specific workshops dedicated to enhancing coordination of efforts. These have already been completed in western provinces, and will be ruled out in other provinces and territories in the coming months.
Recommendation 5 indicates the need to identify and provide labour market information that will support indigenous organizations in aligning with demand in their regions. This is one of the most challenging areas, given that existing tools are not able to provide high-quality, highly localized labour market information anywhere in the country—not just for indigenous communities, but in any community.
Highly localized labour market information has to be built from the ground up and tested. We have a survey pilot under way in four first nations communities, which will be expanded to 44 over three years. It will collect community-level data and create skills inventories that will better support labour market planning, training approaches and matching clients with available jobs. We will apply the lessons learned from this pilot across the service delivery network.
In the meantime, we've also created distinctions-based working groups to determine what labour market information will be most useful going forward. In addition, building on what we have to do by April 2019, we will link delivery organizations to the existing job bank data.
Recommendations 6 to 8 focus on reducing administrative burden and the monitoring of funding agreements. Further to extensive consultations with partners, we have already begun implementing changes that streamline financial and administrative reporting requirements. In addition, we will be implementing a new risk-based approach.
High-capacity organizations with a strong track record will see their administrative burden from reporting reduced. This will allow us to focus our efforts on organizations with a weaker track record and build their capacity to meet accountability requirements.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
If you permit me a small personal note, while I have only been on the job for three weeks, I want to make it clear that I view my role as chief accounting officer not just as being accountable for the actions the department is taking now and will take in the future, but I am accountable to you for all actions it has taken in the past, and I will do my best to uphold that accountability to you for those past actions as well.
I would be happy to take your questions.