We call upon the federal government to prepare and publish annual reports comparing funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves, as well as educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusOct. 4, 2021STALLED
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

Latest public report on the official government website is for the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year. Report does not address federal funding for schools off-reserve vs on reserve nor educational and income attainments for Indigenous vs non-Indigenous peoples. See also response to C2A # 8 for budget details. 

The 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report released on June 10, 2019 delivers specific details on Average Income, Unemployment and Education Attainment for First Nations, Métis and Inuit vs non-Indigenous Canadians.

Government Post-Secondary Reporting Actions

May 28, 2018 – The Ministry of Advanced Education and Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions are collaborating on a new Post-Secondary Education Indicators Project.  As a result of this project, government and institutions are able to collect, analyze and report sector-wide post-secondary data, which will help inform future decisions and planning

The data shows that between 2013 and 2017, there has been a 26 per cent increase in First Nations, Métis and Inuit students enrolled in credentialed programs at Saskatchewan’s post-secondary institutions, with nearly 5,400 students enrolled in 2017.

The number of credentials awarded to First Nations, Métis and Inuit students has grown 35 per cent since 2013 with nearly 1,700 such credentials awarded in 2017

July 19, 2019 – Métis Nation–Saskatchewan President Glen McCallum and Minister of Education Dr. Earl Cook announced a new 10-year, $89 million post-secondary fund specifically for Métis students. The new post-secondary fund provides direct financial support for Métis post-secondary students in the form of tuition, books and living allowance. In addition, the fund will support student services and increase education governance capacity at the post-secondary level.

Federal K-12 Primary and Secondary School Budgets 2013 vs 2017
Elementary & Secondary Education Program2013-14%2016-17%
Instructional Services$948M60$1,032M53.2
Student Support Services$142M9$162.888.4
Proposal-Based Programs$158M10$234.6212.1
Targeted Programs (Special Ed)$126M8$250.1312.9
Operations and Maintenance$112M7$120.226.2
Band Support Funding, Empl. Benefits, Ed. related est.$92M6$127.976.6
Total Education Budget$1,582100$1,93999.4
Per Capita Funding$15,290$19,010
First Nations K-12 Operating Expenditures: 2013-14 vs 2016-7

On a per capita basis, INAC (now ISC) provides $19,010 per FTE student in 2016-2017 for K-12 education operating expenditures. This is up from an average of $15,290 per FTE in First Nations K-12 education operating expenditures in 2013 -14.

Total K-12 Op. Exp. ($M)$248.1$319.9$324.5$382.7$418.4$167.7$68.8$1,938.7
Total FTE students12,50716,90219,41821,02420,7228,1713,240101,984
Per Capita Funding$19,838$18,924$16,709$18,201$20,193$20,526$21,232$19,010


June 10, 2019 – Added specific details from the 2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report on Average Income, Unemployment and Education Attainment for First Nations, Métis and Inuit vs non-Indigenous Canadians.

2019 Indigenous Economic Progress Report

The report released today by the National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB) concludes that while the overall economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples are improving in Canada, this is only to varying, and sometimes small degrees. Given the pace of improvements, outcomes are not on track to meet the 2022 targets of economic parity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

The Indigenous Economic Progress Report presents a thorough, in-depth analysis of the economic realities of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Using 13 measures, it assesses three core indicators: employment, income and community well-being. Using 19 additional measures, it also examines five underlying indicators of economic success: education, entrepreneurship and business development, governance, lands and resources, and infrastructure.

Eleven measures are new to the 2019 progress report, such as workforce representation, enhanced income and educational attainment measures, crowding and condition of housing, and community financial certification. The 2019 report also presents the results of gender analysis and introduces two new NIEDB composite indices on Economic Development and Infrastructure.

The High School Graduation data is from StatsCAN: First Nations People, Métis and Inuit in Canada: Diverse and growing“. The “Degree/Diploma and Unemployment Rate” are from the Indigenous Economic Progress Report 2019.


Office of the Auditor General Spring Report – 2018

Report 5: Socio-economic Gaps on First Nations Reserves—Indigenous Services Canada. Measuring Well-Being on First Nations Reserves – April 2015 – December 2017

The Department did not have a comprehensive picture of the well-being of on-reserve First Nations people compared with other Canadians

Over-all Message

5.17     Overall, we found that Indigenous Services Canada’s main measure of socio-economic well-being on reserves, the Community Well-Being index, was not comprehensive1. While the index included Statistics Canada data on education, employment, income, and housing, it omitted several aspects of well-being that are also important to First Nations people—such as health, environment, language, and culture.

5.18     We also found that the Department did not adequately use the large amount of program data provided by First Nations, nor did it adequately use other available data and information. The Department also did not meaningfully engage with First Nations to satisfactorily measure and report on whether the lives of people on First Nations reserves were improving. For example, the Department did not adequately measure and report on the education gap. In fact, our calculations showed that this gap had widened in the past 15 years.

5.19     These findings matter because measuring and reporting on progress in closing socio-economic gaps would help everyone involved—including Parliament, First Nations, the federal government, other departments, and other partners—to understand whether their efforts to improve lives are working. If the gaps are not smaller in future years, this would mean that the federal approach needs to change.

Collecting, Using and Sharing First Nations Education Data

Overall, we found that education results for First Nations students have not improved relative to those of other Canadians.

  • We found that despite commitments the Department made 18 years ago, Indigenous Services Canada did not collect relevant data, or adequately use data to improve education programs and inform funding decisions. It also did not assess the relevant data it collected, for accuracy and completeness. Nor did the Department provide access to or regularly share its education information or the results of data analysis with First Nations. In addition, the Department was still unable to report how federal funding for on-reserve education compared with the funding levels for other education systems across Canada.
  • These findings matter because the Department and First Nations communities that deliver education need complete and accurate data to make evidence-based decisions and, ultimately, to improve education results and socio-economic well-being.

Reporting on First Nations’ education results

The Department’s reporting was incomplete and inaccurate

5.84     Overall, we found that the Department’s reporting to Parliament on education was inaccurate. The Department’s method of calculating and reporting the on-reserve high school graduation rate of First Nations students overstated the graduation rate because it did not account for students who dropped out between grades 9 and 11. For example, the Department’s reported data showed that, from 2011 to 2016, on average, about one in two (46%) First Nations students graduated, whereas our calculations showed that, on average, only about one in four (24%) students actually completed high school within 4 years. Moreover, between the 2014–15 and the 2015–16 fiscal years, the Department’s data showed that the graduation rate was improving, but our calculations showed that it was declining.

5.85     We also found that the Department did not report on most (17 of 23) education results it had committed to reporting on, to determine whether progress was being made to close the gap. For example, it did not report on student attendance or the delivery of First Nations’ language instruction.

5.86     These findings matter because, without complete and accurate information, Canadians, First Nations, and parliamentarians were not fully informed about the true extent of First Nations’ education results or the education gap.

http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_201805_05_e_43037.html – hd2e

Note 1: Community Well-Being

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board “2019 Indigenous Economic Development Progress Report” emphasized in its recommendations that The Community well-being index was identified by the Auditor General as lacking comprehensiveness in focusing primarily on economic indicators, not sufficiently utilizing First Nations data and not meaningfully engaging with First Nations to consider Indigenous meanings of community well-being. Health, the environment, language and culture are aspects that are being considered for future study and the Department has committed to working with Indigenous organizations to co-develop a broad dashboard of well-being outcomes to reflect mutually agreed upon metrics. Although the integration of new metrics will make historical comparisons of the CWB problematic, the more thorough assessment of community well-being for Indigenous communities will add considerable value. Consulting with all Indigenous groups will ensure diverse lived- experiences are considered. We look forward to these improvements in measuring outcomes of community well-being for the 2022 Report.

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

Indigenous Services Canada is continuing to produce reports on education funding. The most recent public report is from the 2016-2017 school year:

Kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures 2016-2017 overview