REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP) – Costing of the Reform of the Income Assistance Program


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.  The AFN hosts two Assemblies a year where mandates and directives for the organization are established through resolutions directed and supported by the First Nations-in-Assembly (elected Chiefs or proxies from member First Nations).

In addition to the direction provided by Chiefs of each member First Nation, the AFN is guided by an Executive Committee consisting of an elected National Chief and Regional Chiefs from each province and territory. Representatives from five national councils (Knowledge Keepers, Youth, Veterans, 2SLGBTQQIA+ and Women) support and guide the decisions of the Executive Committee.

Through Resolution 07/2022, Reform of the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program, the AFN is mandated to oversee a costing exercise to gauge the long-term investments needed to fill the gaps within the Income Assistance (IA) Program. The AFN is seeking proposals from qualified bidders to conduct research and engage First Nations on funding models related to First Nations needs-based funding. The research and engagement should inform the development of a funding model for the IA Program to ensure the rates and program are reflective of the accurate cost of living for First Nations. The AFN is also requesting the costing of IA Program components such as: a standalone disability program, building capacity for and maintaining First Nations data sovereignty, the implementation of a First Nations determined social safety net offered within the IA Program, universal access to case-management and pre-employment supports and increased resources and resourcing for First Nations to develop and administer their own IA Programs.


The objective of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to select a bidder to provide a high quality of professionalism, integrity, and confidentiality for the development of a First Nations-specific funding model for the implementation of the First Nations-developed policy recommendations for reform of the IA Program. The project is anticipated to start in August 2023 and conclude by March 2024.

Project Requirements

The successful proponent will work with the AFN to:

  • Undertake research to identify the current funding models used across the First Nations, within federal programs and regional allocation models, identifying gaps and considerations of First Nations-specific funding models. The research should inform the development of a flexible First Nations-specific funding model that provides a livable income and changes with current socio-economic realities.
  • Conduct an environmental scan of priorities for First Nations wrap-around supports for IA clients, including recommendations for inter-departmental linkages. The methodology should be informed by a literature review on First Nations-developed innovative approaches and best practices that is based on discussions with the Technical Working Group on Social Development (TWGSD), and other avenues identified by the proponent.
  • Develop a costing model to understand the cost and required investments of various elements of IA Program reform, including:
    • Developing and implementing disability funding top ups and services within the IA Program that is inclusive of First Nations understandings of disabilities and the growing needs for Persons with Different Abilities (PWDA) and their caregivers,
    • Costs to develop and maintain First Nations data systems, data collection strategy and implementation,
    • Costs for IA universal case-management, pre-employment, and administrative supports within all First Nations.
    • Costs for wage comparability in the IA program to reflect industry standards and increasing economic opportunities available to First Nations,
    • Costs to create and maintain accessible and safe work environments.
  • Provide interim reports and updates to the AFN and the TWGSD for validation and direction as required.
  • Provide a final report and presentation to the AFN and the TWGSD that provides a summary of the key findings, options, and recommendations.
  • Ensure all work is compliant with OCAP® principles.

Project Deliverables

  • Project kick-off meeting and regular virtual meetings with the AFN (September 2023 and ongoing for duration of project)
  • Development of a detailed workplan and timeline (September 2023)
  • Update meetings and engagement with the TWGSD, virtually and in-person (ongoing for duration of project)
  • Interim report (November 2023)
  • Knowledge translation and information/communications materials support, including participation in a dialogue session at AFN’s 2023 Special Chief’s Assembly in Ottawa, Ontario (December 2023)
  • Final report (March 2024)


In Budget 2018, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) invested of $8.5 million over two years to understand how to make the program more responsive to the needs of First Nation clients and to identify the supports required to help clients better transition from income assistance to employment and education. AFN Resolution 28/2018, Support for the establishment of a Technical Working Group on Social Development, mandated the creation of a technical working group to oversee and advise on policy and operational changes to ISC’s social development programs, including the IA and Assisted Living (AL) Programs.

The AFN, the TWGSD and ISC have been collaborating to support reform of the IA Program through an evidence-based, bottom-up approach that leverages First Nations-led engagement and research, regional perspectives, and INDsight Consulting’s data and service gap analysis. AFN Resolution 07/2022, Reform of the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program, offers validation and support to the reform of the IA Program through First Nation-led policy recommendations. The resolution further mandated the AFN and the TWGSD to conduct a costing exercise to determine the costs associated with implementing the policy changes.


All proposals shall be received by the AFN no later than Friday, September 1, 2023 at 5:00pm ET.

Only electronic submissions will be accepted, submitted via email as a PDF document to the Director of Social Development. All proposals must clearly identify the name of the proponent and the note “RFP for First Nations Costing of Income Assistance Policy Recommendations” in the subject line. Proposals may be sent by e-mail to Stephanie Wellman, Director of Social Development, at [email protected]. Submissions by mail or fax will not be accepted.

Late submissions will not be accepted, without exception.


 All proposal should include the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Address & Contact Information
  3. A summary outlining the background of the proponent’s company, the proposal contents, and any specific exceptions to the stated requirements.
  4. A description of the proponent’s qualifications, capabilities and experience specifically related to the Request for Proposals, including demonstrated experience and qualifications related to OCAP®.
  5. A description of the physical and human resources required to complete the activities outlined in the Request for Proposals, including identification of the project team members, if any, and their roles and experience.
  6. A proposed timeline and methodology that identifies the time and resources required to complete the proposed work.
  7. A cost breakdown for the proposed services, in Canadian dollars and inclusive of HST.
  8. The name, title and contact information for three (3) references that have used the services of the proponent.


The AFN reserves the right to:

  1. reject any or all proposals received in response to this Request for Proposals;
  2. enter into negotiation with one or more bidders on any or all aspects of their respective proposals;
  3. accept any proposal in whole, or in part;
  4. cancel and/or re-issue the modified version of a given RFP requirement at any time;
  5. award one or more contracts;
  6. verify all information provided with respect to a given RFP requirement, including the right to request a confirmation of the bidder’s legal status and signed documentation; and
  7. award contracts without competition for follow-up work, if any, to the selected bidder for a given project requirement.


The AFN will select the Proponent(s) which, in the AFN’s sole discretion, best serves the needs of the AFN. The following is a summary of the general considerations that will be used to determine the Proponent(s) that will be selected:


Expertise of firm/organization submitting the proposal, including relevance of the proponent’s experience for the project content


Experience working with First Nations and First Nations organizations


Proposed work plan and approach, including allocation of time to tasks and activities identified in the proposal


Total price associated with proposed tasks and activities

Overall impressions of the proposal 20%


The following dates are set forth for informational and planning purposes and may be changed at the AFN’s sole discretion.

RFP released/posted Wednesday, August 9, 2023
Deadline for Questions Friday, August 25, 2023
Deadline for proposal submission Friday, September 1, 2023
Completion of proposal evaluations Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Final selection Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Expected contract start date Friday, September 15, 2023
Expected contract end date Friday, March 22, 2024

The timetable is tentative only and may be changed by the AFN, in its sole discretion, at any time prior to the Proposal Submission Deadline.



Contractors must provide a firm fixed price, including administrative fees, travel, material costs, translation, printing of draft concepts and HST.


to this RFP will be considered as confidential information by the AFN and will be used solely for the purposes of selecting the successful bidder.


Requests for clarification and/or questions regarding this RFP must be received by 5:00pm ET on Friday, August 25, 2023, and should be sent by email to Stephanie Wellman, Director of Social Development, at [email protected].


All on-time proposals will be acknowledged. Only those submissions that meet the deadline will be considered. Responses to this RFP must be received by 5:00pm ET on Friday, September 1, 2023.

Responses must be sent by e-mail to Stephanie Wellman, Director of Social Development, at [email protected].