Education

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 6 to 12.

6. We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

What's happening?

All children have the right to be protected from violence. The Criminal Code and provincial and territorial welfare laws protect children from all forms of violence, including abusive and harmful conduct. Section 43 of the Criminal Code provides a limited defence to parents, caregivers and teachers who use reasonable force toward a child. The issue of whether or not section 43 of the Criminal Code should be repealed raises differing and strongly held views across Canada.

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada found that section 43 was constitutional in a case called Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General). However, the court's decision, which included guidelines, significantly narrowed the application of section 43 to reasonable, corrective force that is minor or transitory and trifling in nature. The court also made clear that teachers cannot use corporal punishment under any circumstances.

Since 1987, the Government of Canada has been supporting parenting education programs, such as the Nobody's perfect program, and develops publications that discourage physical discipline and provides caregivers with positive parenting skills. For example, the online brochure called What's Wrong with Spanking? helps to guide parents in responding to children's behaviour.

7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

What's happening?

Budget 2016 provided new investments in primary and secondary education on reserve, totaling $2.6 billion over 5 years. This includes funding to address immediate pressures and to keep pace with rising costs in the medium term, as well as provide for additional investments in literacy and numeracy programs and special needs education.

Building on this investment, on April 1, 2019, Indigenous Services Canada began implementing a new approach to First Nations elementary and secondary education, which was co-developed with First Nations education leaders and experts from across the country. This approach includes new formula-based regional models for First Nations education that will ensure that students attending First Nations schools are supported by predictable and sustained base funding that is more directly comparable to what students enrolled in provincial systems receive. On top of this base funding, this new approach will provide additional funding to on-reserve schools for language and culture programming and full-time kindergarten for children aged 4 and 5.

Budget 2016 invested $969.4 million over 5 years for the construction, repair and maintenance of First Nations education facilities. With respect to post-secondary education, Budget 2016 provided $1.53 billion over 5 years to increase amounts of the Canada Student Grants and $329 million per year after that. Budget 2016 also announced that funding provided by the Post-Secondary Student Support Program will no longer impact eligibility for the Canada Student Loans Program's non-repayable grants and loans support. As a result, Indigenous students can access both student funding programs as long as they meet eligibility criteria. This measure will increase the amount of non-repayable Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans that Indigenous students may receive.

Budget 2017 provided:

  • $90 million over 2 years, beginning in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program
  • $100 million for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy Skills Link and Summer Work Experience program
  • $5 million per year for 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for Indspire, a national Indigenous-led registered charity that invests in the education of Indigenous peoples, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector

The Government of Canada undertook a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review is to ensure that these programs provide Indigenous students with the resources and support they need to attend and complete post-secondary studies.

Building on this engagement, 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

Budgets 2016 and 2017 committed to renew and expand the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy beyond March 31, 2018. Budget 2018 announced $2 billion over 5 years and $408.2 million per year ongoing, to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, which will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Extensive engagement took place with Indigenous partners in 2016 and 2017 to develop a proposal for future labour market programming. The Government of Canada has consulted with, and heard from, Indigenous partners on the importance of a distinctions-based approach that recognizes the unique needs of the First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation. To that end, the new program will provide:

  • $1.1 billion over 5 years and $235.7 million per year ongoing, for a First Nations stream
  • $325 million over 5 years and $67 million per year ongoing, for a Métis Nation stream
  • $161.2 million over 5 years and $32.6 million per year ongoing, for an Inuit stream
  • $213.4 million over 5 years and $45.2 million per year ongoing, for an urban or non-affiliated stream

Work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations and service providers to ensure all Indigenous people have access to the skills development and employment training they need to fully participate in the Canadian economy will continue.

8. 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.

What's happening?

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

9. 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.

What's happening?

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

10. We call on the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. The new legislation would include a commitment to sufficient funding and would incorporate the following principles:

  1. Providing sufficient funding to close identified educational achievement gaps within one generation.
  2. Improving education attainment levels and success rates.
  3. Developing culturally appropriate curricula.
  4. Protecting the right to Aboriginal languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses.
  5. Enabling parental and community responsibility, control, and accountability, similar to what parents enjoy in public school systems.
  6. Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children.
  7. Respecting and honouring Treaty relationships.

What's happening?

Based on the policy proposal for transforming the Government of Canada's support for First Nations elementary and secondary education that was co-developed with First Nations, Indigenous Services Canada has established a new policy framework for First Nations elementary and secondary education.

11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.

What's happening?

Budget 2016 provided $1.53 billion over 5 years to increase amounts of the Canada Student Grants and $329 million per year after that. It also announced that any funding provided by the Post-Secondary Student Support Program will no longer be treated as a student resource, meaning those funds will no longer impact eligibility for the Canada Student Loans Program's non-repayable grants and loans support. As a result, Indigenous students will continue to be able to access both programs, as long as they meet eligibility criteria. This measure will increase the amount of non-repayable Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans that Indigenous students may receive.

Budget 2017 provided:

  • an enhancement of $90 million over 2 years, beginning in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which will support access to post-secondary education for an additional 4,600 First Nations and Inuit students
  • $100 million for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy Skills Link and Summer Work Experience program
  • $5 million per year for 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for Indspire, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector, which will leverage $40 million in bursaries and scholarships for more than 12,000 Indigenous students

The Government of Canada has completed a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review is to ensure that these programs provide Indigenous students with the resources and support they need to attend and complete post-secondary studies.

In addition, 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 per year 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

12. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

What's happening?

In September 2018, a new distinctions-based Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care framework co-developed with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council was announced. This transformative framework reflects the unique cultures and needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families across Canada. It is a guide for all actors in the early learning and child care sphere to work towards achieving the shared vision that Indigenous children have the opportunity to experience high-quality, culturally strong early learning and child care. The framework complements the Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care released in June 2017 by federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for early learning and child care.

In support of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework, the Government of Canada has committed $1.7 billion over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2018 to 2019, to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families. This is part of the commitment of $7.5 billion over 11 years the government made in Budgets 2016 and 2017 for more high-quality affordable child care.

In addition, Budget 2016 invested $129.4 million over 2 years, starting in fiscal year 2016 to 2017, to build capacity in existing Indigenous early learning and child care programs. With these investments, repairs and renovations were undertaken in 549 First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative centers, in 167 Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve facilities and in 77 Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities facilities.

Work in collaboration with First Nations partners was undertaken to jointly develop policy that will strengthen First Nations control of First Nations education and ensure that children on reserve receive a quality education. The importance of culturally-appropriate early learning and kindergarten programming emerged as key themes through engagement with First Nations partners, culminating in a co-developed policy proposal that was endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations' Chiefs in Assembly on December 5, 2017. This co-developed proposal would significantly increase available funding for full-time, two-year kindergarten for children ages 4 and 5 at on-reserve schools. Culturally appropriate early learning and kindergarten programming will be further supported by Budget 2016's investment of an additional $2.6 billion for elementary and secondary education on reserve, to improve education outcomes for First Nations.

On April 1, 2019, Indigenous Services Canada implemented a new approach to First Nations elementary and secondary education, which was co-developed with First Nations education leaders and experts from across the country. On top of new formula-based regional models for First Nations education, this new approach will provide additional funding to on-reserve schools for language and culture programming and full-time kindergarten for children aged 4 and 5.

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