We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusNov. 9, 2020STALLED
Previous StatusAug. 17, 2020STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

The government response still does not directly address funding for education for Indigenous students who are off-reserve

Only 69% of the $2.6B in Budget 2016 of funding dedicated specifically to Primary and Secondary schools is available from 2016 through 2019. The $815M for post-secondary support included in Budget 2019 (5 years for First Nations and 10 years for Métis and Inuit plus an additional $61.8M per year after for the Métis and Inuit is actually LESS than the previous budget allocations for 2017 and 2018 of $90M per year.

Jan. 21, 2019 – The Government of Canada and the AFN announce new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education on reserve to take effect as of April 1, 2019 to support First Nations control of First Nations education, and ensures more predictable and sufficient funding.

Federal Spending on Primary and Secondary Education on First Nations Reserves

Parliamentary Budget Officer

Summary
In Canada, education is largely a provincial domain. The notable exception is education for First Nations students living on reserve. This responsibility falls squarely with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC).  After comparing and analyzing data on federal and provincial education spending, PBO found evidence that INAC funding mechanisms:

  • do not adequately take into account important cost drivers for band-operated schools;
  • favour students living on reserves who attend provincial schools; and
  • put band-operated schools in remote northern regions at significant disadvantage.

The funding shortfall – the difference between INAC funding and funding that would occur under the provincial formula — is the result of INAC not adequately costing for operating small schools in remote northern regions. In addition, band schools face higher costs because of:

  • higher incidence of socio-economic disadvantage;
  • commitments to provide culturally relevant instruction in indigenous languages; and
  • large numbers of students for whom English or French is a second language.
  • The incidence of children requiring special education support is also higher.

PBO estimates that in the medium term, new investments in education program spending announced in Budget 2016 could begin to address funding shortfalls for band-operated schools.

High and Low PBO Estimates of Funding Shortfalls to Band-operated Schools and Recent Budget Announcements:

  • Actual 2016 Budget: $2,600.8B
  • Low PBO Estimate: $1,799.4B
  • High PBO Estimate: $3,520.3

Federal Budgets for First Nations Education

Budget 2016
Budget 2017
  • $90M per year for 2 years for Post Secondary Education Support
  • $25M per year for 5 years for Indspire scholarships
Budget 2019

Budget 2019 announced $815 million over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, and $61.8 million ongoing in support of Indigenous post-secondary education. This includes:

  • $327.5 million over 5 years to support First Nations post-secondary students and the development of regional education strategies
  • $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million ongoing to support an Inuit-led post-secondary strategy
  • $362.0 million over 10 years and $40 million ongoing to support a Métis-Nation strategy
New Policy and Funding Approach for First Nations Education

Jan. 21, 2019 – The Government of Canada and the AFN announce new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education on reserve to take effect as of April 1, 2019 to support First Nations control of First Nations education, and ensures more predictable and sufficient funding that will better support the needs of First Nations students on-reserve. As of April 1, 2019, the new funding approach:

  • replaces outdated proposal-based programs with improved access to predictable core funding
  • ensures base funding is comparable to provincial systems across the country while working towards additional funding agreements based on need to better account for factors such as remoteness, school size, language, and socio-economic conditions
  • provides First Nations schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming
  • provides new resources which will support full-time kindergarten in every First Nations school for children aged 4 and 5
  • ensures special education funding is more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1524495412051/1524495479084

AFN Resolutions for Education Reform

AFN Resolution 16/2016Honourable Process to Develop Recommendations to support First Nations Education Reform

Directed the AFN to facilitate an honourable process between First Nations and Indigenous Services Canada. This process included full and meaningful regional First Nation participation to develop recommendations for reforming First Nation education which respects existing regional models and initiatives.

AFN resolution 65/2017 – New interim funding approach for First Nations Education

Outlines the draft funding proposal (co-developed by First Nations) and a Memorandum to Cabinet. The resolution further reaffirms First Nations’ inherent and Treaty rights to education, and insists that jurisdiction over First Nation education remains with each First Nation.

First Nations K-12 Education: 2016 – 17

On a per capita basis, INAC (now ISC) provided about $19,010 per FTE student in 2016-2017 for K-12 education operating expenditures. This calculation does not include an investment of an additional $165 million in First Nations education infrastructure for capital projects, targeted projects, and salary or administration expenses on reserve.

https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1349140116208/1531315346681?wbdisable=true

Quality Education Backgrounder – January 23, 2018: Ministry of Indigenous Services

Current Challenge

Significant infrastructure needs for school construction, repair and maintenance on reserve

Point of Progress Since November 2015

140 First Nation education projects are completed or underway. These projects, ranging from school repairs to the building of new schools, benefit more than 120 First Nation communities and 176,000 people.

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

To help address the education attainment gap, the Government of Canada has made significant investments, totaling $2.6 billion over 5 years for primary and secondary education on reserve. This includes funding to address immediate needs and to keep pace with cost growth over the medium term, as well as investments in language and cultural programming and literacy and numeracy.

The Government of Canada has worked closely with various First Nations partners to implement an inclusive and comprehensive engagement process on First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 education on reserve, including investing $3.6 million to support community-level discussions. The engagements were led by First Nations organizations and provided community members with the opportunity to share their views on how to improve First Nations student success.

On January 21, 2019, a new co-developed policy and improved funding approach to better support the needs of First Nations students on-reserve was announced. As of April 1, 2019, the new funding approach:

  • replaces outdated proposal-based programs with improved access to predictable core funding
  • ensures base funding is comparable to provincial systems across the country while working towards additional funding agreements based on need to better account for factors such as remoteness, school size, language, and socio-economic conditions
  • provides First Nations schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming
  • provides new resources which will support full-time kindergarten in every First Nations school for children aged 4 and 5
  • ensures special education funding is more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements