The Gitksan Government Commission (GGC) has a Social Development Policy. This policy is for the member communities of Gitanmaax, Gitanyow, Glen Vowell and Kispiox, to guide and assist in the delivery of the social development program on reserve.
Under the multi-year funding agreement GGC in partnership with the bands made changes to the existing ISC Social Development policy guidelines. This revised policy manual (2006) focuses on the unique needs of the Gitksan communities and better reflects their goals and objectives. It will eventually incorporate the traditional roles and responsibilities of the House and Clan system in caring for all members and residents of each community.
This policy has been thoroughly reviewed in detail through a series of meetings including Chief Councillors and their invited Band Council representatives, in collaboration with the GGC Social Development Advisor and each Band’s Social Development worker.
This policy manual provides consistency and adherence to the multi-year agreement as signed by all four Bands. As such, it is applicable to all four Band Councils, their Community Social Development Committees, their administration staff and the Band members. Any changes to the Manual in future will require the agreement of all four Bands as represented by their Chief Councillors on the GGC Board.
The Advisor for the Social Development at Gitksan Government Commission works closely with each of the community Band Social Development Workers and administration to implement the social development program.
Social Development Compliance Reviews – Update
Gitanyow, Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox are required to have their files reviewed by ISC’s social development compliance review team.
In 2015/16 INAC completed the social development compliance review. This meant ISC came out to each community to review the files for: completed applications, proper identification, ensure renewals forms are complete, housing agreements are on file, certificate of possessions are on file for privately owned homes, special needs expenditures are appropriate and the children out of parental home files are up to date (amongst many other requirements). GGC supported the social development workers, finance and housing personnel to have their files ready for review. We did not have a list of clients/files that ISC would review. ISC reviewed approximately 50% of the caseload in each community.
As we did not pass the 2014/2015 review we had to do it again for the 2015/2016 year. Our results were quite different and approved dramtically. The 2015/2016 results are: Gitanmaax 99.98%; Kispiox 93.90%; Glen Vowell 97.62%; Gitanyow 89.51%. Overall the GGC rating is 94.34%. A total of $72,384.93 was recovered from the social development budget. These recoveries can lead to Bands going in to third party management. The main areas that did not pass the ISC social development program review are: no current housing rental agreements on file, tenants did not match agreement, rental amounts did not match the SA payments.
The 2014/2015 review was done, GGC supported the bands to appeal the findings and the final compliance review results were: Gitanyow 95.2%; Gitanmaax 64%; Glen Vowell 79.7%; Kispiox 88.6%. A total of $211,950.88 was recovered from GGC Social Development budget. These recoveries can lead to Bands going in to third party management. The main areas that did not pass were: no housing rental agreements on file, band homes with no mortgage cannot charge rent to the SA budget (being contested in BC); incomplete applications, managing Purchase Orders & non-eligible expenses.
Principles of the GGC Social Development Program
This policy manual will change and evolve as the needs of the community and people change. It is the goal of the GGC and member Bands that the policies will evolve to a point where the traditions and culture of the Gitksan will be reflected throughout and that the House and Clans will assume more responsibility in promoting the health and well-being of each member.
The objectives of the social development program will focus on reinforcing the traditional responsibility of caring and supporting all Gitksan and working towards independence and growth away from social assistance to social development.
Social development includes developing educational and employment plans for all able-bodied individuals, focusing on realistic goals with assistance from the extended family House, clan and community.
It is the tradition of the Gitksan to be self sufficient and it is the responsibility of the extended family to assist individual family members in need. Only when traditional family resources are no longer available should one turn to the Band social development program for support. This should never be the first resort, but rather the last. Independence and self sufficiency should be the guiding force of every individual within the context of our traditional tribal culture.
Goals of the GGC Social Development Program
•To develop skills to seek and maintain financial independence through employment or business ownership
•To develop confidence in making decisions that affect one’s future through education or employment plans
•To develop the ability to make decisions and choices leading to self reliance
Extended Family and House:
•To strengthen traditional family responsibilities of caring for all.
•To provide assistance and guidance to all family members working towards independence and self reliance.
•To provide moral, and in some cases financial, support to family/House members as opposed to reliance on social assistance programs.
•To develop resources and programs that will assist individuals and families to become self reliant within the context of our traditional tribal culture.
•To encourage individuals to seek alternatives to social assistance through education, counselling and/or employment plans.
•To discourage individual and family reliance on social assistance programs and to encourage the tradition of caring for each other.
Most communities follow ISC policy, the on reserve hand book can be found at the First Nations Social Development Society website www.fnsds.org or follow this link.
Income Assistance Rates
Gitksan Social Development: the level of rates for income assistance are below. These rates match ISC and provincial levels of support, they cannot be higher than the federal or provincial levels. Many of the shelter costs (i.e., rent or hydro) are not paid directly to the client as rent is often paid to the local band office for a social or band house/rental unit and many clients have chosen the social development program to pay hydro directly. Please note that in the last few years the costs for hydro have often put clients in a hardship situation as the income assistance maximum amount cannot cover both the mortgage costs and the high hydro costs. Often the band office has exempted the mortgage costs to pay for the high hydro bills which leaves the band office carrying a rental arrears for the mortgage. For those members living off reserve both basic and shelter are combined into one cheque and the client must pay their own rent and hydro – this is one of the main differences between on and off reserve. Many FN communities are starting to insist that the clients pay their hydro themselves rather than the band office to help encourage self sufficiency.
The annual expenditures for social development for the 4 bands is approximately 3 million dollars each year.
The expenditures include supports for:
- basic income assistance (mostly single males, and far too many children in poverty) includes persons with multiple barriers and persons with disabilities
- shelter costs (often issued to band for social housing or rent to own units; other costs include hydro and wood)
- guardian financial assistance (GFA) to support children living with extended family on an interim basis; the 4 bands affiliated with GGC are still using the GFA policy and not the COPH policy.
- WOP/ASARET – on the job training
- adult in home care (homemaking and meals on wheels)
For a look at BC, the northwest has the highest rates of income assistance and much demand for jobs and training!