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Canada Education Facts


Provinces and territories are responsible for education at primary and secondary level. This has led to regional differences in curricula, teaching languages ​​and degrees. Teaching in Canadian schools is usually of high quality. Canada has successfully succeeded in integrating students with a foreign background into the school system, while persons belonging to one of the indigenous peoples still have lower education levels than the average Canadian. Within the OECD, Canada is at the top when it comes to the proportion of residents with university and college education.

The start of schooling varies slightly between provinces, in some of them the children start school at the age of five, in others when they are six or seven years old. School duty prevails until the student reaches the age of 16 or 18. There are three levels in the school system: elementary school (usually grades 1-8), high school (high school, usually grades 9-13) and college (college or university). The school system looks slightly different in Québec. Preschools are available in most provinces (for children from four or five years). In most elementary schools, the language of instruction is English. In Québec, almost all schools are French-speaking. Teacher salaries are comparatively high.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Canada, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.

There are both public and private schools. About 6 percent of students attend private schools, but the differences are large between the different provinces. Almost half of the private schools have religious connections, others have a special educational focus such as Waldorf or Montessori, or specialize in subjects such as science, art or sports. Christian schools have been around for a long time, but the number of schools with other religious orientations (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh) has increased in recent years. In Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, it is possible to get a Catholic education in the public school system.

In Québec, teaching about all world religions is mandatory. There, the main difference is between English-speaking and French-speaking schools.

Since the 1990s, public support (both from the federal government and provincial boards) for private schools has increased. In the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut there are Protestant and Catholic schools receiving state support. The law gives parents the right to educate their children at home.

School meals are not usually served, but students often bring lunch or go home and eat.

The country is high up in the so-called Pisa surveys, which measure the level of knowledge of 15-year-olds in science, mathematics and reading comprehension. On average, it takes three years for children of immigrants to catch up with their peers in terms of knowledge level. The gaps between students who come from poorer conditions and those from more affluent environments are relatively small.

An important exception is pupils from the indigenous population, where almost every second pupil leaves high school, compared with 80 percent for the rest of the population, and 12 percent have a university education (the figures are from the 2011 census) (see also Indigenous peoples’ rights). In 2016, the Liberal Government pledged great efforts to improve the education of indigenous peoples.

  • Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Canada in each level – compulsory, technical and higher education programs.

Higher education

Higher education is conducted at some 80 universities and hundreds of colleges. The most famous are the University of Toronto and McGill University of Montreal. In the spring of 2017, some 350,000 foreign students, most of them from Asia, studied at Canadian universities and colleges. Prior to the fall semester of 2017, the number of applications from abroad to Canadian higher education institutions increased by about 20 percent (the largest increase was from India: 57 percent).

In the 2016/2017 academic year, students paid an average of just over 6,000 Canadian dollars to study at a university (those who study to become dentists or doctors, for example, pay significantly more). A decision to raise university fees by 80 percent (fees were then the lowest in Canada) caused major protests in Quebec in 2012. After a power shift in the province in 2014, the increase was abolished.

Foreign students pay higher tuition fees than Canadian students. However, they can reduce costs by working part-time. They also have the opportunity to obtain a fixed-term work permit after completing their studies.

62 percent of Canadians aged 25-64 have college or university education, which in 2018 was significantly below the average for the OECD countries, which was 44 percent. Slightly more women than men have higher education. However, men often find it easier to get a job after completing their education. Many immigrants who have come to the country in recent years have a university degree.

During its last term (2011 to 2015), the Conservative government imposed restrictions on certain academics who received government grants. For example, they were not allowed to speak in the media without special permission. These rules were abolished by the Liberal government that took office in 2015.


Proportion of children starting primary school

100.0 percent (2016)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

17 (2000)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

12.2 percent (2011)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

12.2 percent (2011)



Trudeau receives refugees

Prime Minister Trudeau welcomes the first major group of Syrian refugees to arrive with government plans. Later, Immigration Minister John McCallum says Canada plans to host up to 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016.

Reduced taxes and new promises to the indigenous peoples

The new government presents its political program. A number of promises are made, for example, to lower taxes for the middle class, better relations between indigenous peoples and other Canadians, and increased peace efforts. The government promises to improve education for the children of indigenous peoples, and to investigate 1,181 cases from 1980 where girls and women from indigenous peoples have been murdered or missing (see Indigenous peoples’ rights). One goal is also to reduce the number of small arms in the streets and to contribute to the UN peacekeeping forces.


The Liberals win the provincial elections in Newfoundland and Labrador

November 30

The Liberals win provincial elections in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) has ruled for twelve years.

McLeod wins the Northwest Territories election

November 23

Robert McLeod is re-elected leader of the Northwest Territories.

Obama says no to oil pipeline

November 6

At the end of November, US President Obama says a definitive no to the Keystone XL oil pipeline (see January and February 2015). This means that it will in any case not be built until his term has expired. Prime Minister Trudeau has said he is positive about the project, but that several scientific investigations should be done on how the oil pipelines affect the environment.

25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada

Canada is preparing to receive 25,000 Syrian refugees from Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. The idea is that there will be about 500 new refugees per day, and 15,000 by February. However, in many places, aid organizations, companies and individual citizens have also begun to prepare to help. Some private groups have also offered to sponsor Syrian families so that even more can come to Canada. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, it is decided that Canada will only accept families, especially vulnerable women and gay men. Those to be elected must either be registered by the UNHCR or the Turkish government. Safety and health checks must be carried out before the refugees are flown to Canada. The pace will also be slower than previously planned. 10,000 will be received until the end of 2015. And the receipt of 10,000 of the refugees is to be funded by private money. Syrians will be received at 36 different locations in the country. At the same time, a name gathering is underway against Canada receiving the refugees, which until November 25 signed by 75,000 people

Rona Ambrose becomes acting conservative leader

November 5

Rona Ambrose temporarily takes over the party leader post in the Conservative Party. She has previously held a number of ministerial posts, including those responsible for environmental issues.

As many women as men in Trudeau’s government

November 4th

Trudeau’s Justin Trudeau will take over as prime minister on November 4. Of the 30 ministers in his government, 15 are women and 15 are men, and almost all are under 50. Finance Minister becomes Bill Morneau and former Liberal leader Stephane Dion is appointed Foreign Minister. Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist, takes charge of trade issues, and Maryam Monsef, who was born in Afghanistan, for democracy reform. Carolyn Bennett addresses issues pertaining to indigenous peoples. For the first time, a person from the indigenous peoples gets the post of Minister of Justice: Jody Wilson-Raybould. And Harjit Sajjan, who is one of three Sikhs in the government, gets the basis for the national defense. Trudeau promises that his government will be more open than Harpers.


Power change after liberal election victory

October 19

The election is won by the Liberal Party, which receives almost 40 percent of the vote and 184 seats, while the Conservative party gets just under 32 percent and 99 seats, NDP nearly 20 percent and 44 seats, BQ just under 5 percent and 10 seats, and the Green Party 3.4 percent and a mandate. The turnout is 68 percent. In the provinces on the Atlantic coast, the Liberals win all the seats. It will also be the largest party in both Ontario and Quebec. As usual, the Conservative Party is the strongest in Western Canada, with the exception of British Columbia. It will be the largest party in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Conservative leader Stephen Harper admits to being defeated, and announces that he will step down as party leader. Several of Harper’s ministers are losing their seats in the lower house. Justin Trudeau Announces US: President Barack Obama says he plans to pull the Canadian fighter planes involved in bombing IS positions, but he does not say when. After the election, the lower house will have 200 new members. 88 of the members are women, which corresponds to 26 percent, and 10 belong to the indigenous peoples. 50 of the women belong to the Liberal Party.

Negotiations on TTP clear

October 5

Twelve countries have agreed on the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Before the agreement can take effect, it must be approved by the parliaments of the countries.

NDP drops in support

The NDP seems to be losing ground in Quebec, partly because of the party’s line in the veil issue (that Canada should adhere to current regulations), and partly because the party’s promises of free child care, already in the province, do not win many voters there. The party also looks to get competition from BQ, which made a disastrous choice in 2011. Mulcair tried to retake the initiative by, among other things, criticizing the far-reaching plans for a trade agreement between Canada, the United States and several other Pacific countries, the TPP, and the lack of transparency in the negotiations.

The higher right sets them in the niqab case

October 5

The old appellate court ruled that a previous court ruling in the Zunera Ishaq case (see September 2015) is fixed. The government appeals against the appeal to the Supreme Court (after the change of power later this fall, the new Liberal government withdraws the appeal. When Ishaq swears oath to become a Canadian citizen a few days later, she wears niqab, but has previously shown her face to an official.

A play on values ​​gives the Conservative party headwinds

A statement from the conservatives about “Canadian values”, including that Muslim women should not be allowed to wear niqab at the citizenship ceremony, gives the party a push in opinion polls. The party is pleading for the police to establish a hot line where the public can report “barbaric cultural practices”, and that a person convicted of terrorist crimes should lose their Canadian citizenship, even if they were born in Canada. They also say that Trudeau is too inexperienced to take over the Prime Minister’s post. The Liberal leader is accusing the government of playing on the electorate’s fears and taking advantage of every opportunity to strike a split between Canadians.


Court gives woman the right to wear niqab

In the middle of the month, a federal court ruled that a Muslim woman, Zunera Ishaq, has the right to wear niqab, a veil covering her face, at the ceremony to confirm her Canadian citizenship.

According to the rules in force, new Canadian citizens must prove their identity before the ceremony, and a veiled Muslim woman must show her face to an official before she can attend.

Prison for assault plans

Two men, a Canadian of Palestinian origin and a Tunisian, are sentenced to life imprisonment for planning an attack on a Toronto-New York 2013 train.

Economy and refugee crisis are important election issues

Economic issues dominate the electoral movement, but the refugee disaster around the Mediterranean is entering the debate. The government promised in January that Canada would receive 10,000 Syrian refugees, but for a long time refused to present any figures on how many have arrived. Both the NDP and the Liberal Party say Canada must do more to help the refugees. Justin Trudeau says if his party had been in power, Canada would have received at least 25,000 people. Criticism of the government’s refugee policy also comes from within the Conservative Party. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander defends the government in a debate, saying that Canada has already received 2,500 Syrian refugees and 20,000 from Iraq. The government’s hard line is seen by many as a shift from the country’s humanitarian traditions. At the same time, local groups are trying toPopulation and language). Among other things, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says his city should be able to become a “refuge for refugees”.

Canada is suffering from recession

New economic statistics show that Canada has entered a recession when GDP fell by half a percent during the second quarter of the year. Even in the first quarter, the country experienced negative growth. This risks striking against Prime Minister Harper, who is usually seen as competent in managing the economy. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is trying to score this by promising new large federal investment in infrastructure when interest rates are low, as well as keeping the state budget in balance from 2019. He also promises to lower taxes for middle-income earners and raise them for those who earn the most, more efforts to combat climate change and Canada to withdraw its battle plan from Syria and Iraq.


Harper announces new election

August 2

Prime Minister Harper announces parliamentary elections until October 19. As early as eleven weeks in advance, a choice has rarely been announced in Canada. Opinion figures suggest that the Harpers Conservative Party risks losing government power. The left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP), which has never ruled the country, has a scarce head start. The Liberal Party is in third place, a few percentage points behind. Both the NDP and the Liberal Party say that if they together receive more seats than the Conservative party, they do not plan to rule together. In both the 2008 and 2011 election campaigns, Harper’s party could play for fear that a government cooperation between the Liberals and the NDP would push politics far left. At the same time, both parties are considered to have approached each other politically, with the NDP moving towards the political center, while the Liberals have taken a step to the left. At the beginning of the electoral movement, Harper and his party talk a lot about the need to fight the threat fromIslamist terrorism. He has accused both the NDP and the Liberals of not being tough enough in the fight against terrorism and that their policies would strike hard against the middle class. In addition, Harper is criticized for financial “business” in which his party mates are involved.


Former Harper employees are sentenced to prison

June 25

A former close associate of President Harper, Dean Del Mastro, is sentenced to one month in prison for violating the rules governing how much money may be used during an election campaign and for subsequently forging documents to hide it. He is also sentenced to pay $ 10,000 in fines and must spend four months in house arrest when released.

Cyber ​​attack against the government

June 18

In the middle of the month, a number of the Canadian government’s websites are hacked, including those of Parliament and the intelligence service. The hackers network Anonymous says they are behind the action in protest against C51, which according to the hackers contradicts the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Requirements for educational investment for indigenous peoples

June 3

A study by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the mission of trying to reduce the educational gaps between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians is redirecting attention to the abuses committed by children from Native American, Inuit, and Mist families at the special boarding schools run by churches in 1870. century and into the 1990s. The study calls it “a cultural genocide ” and calls on the government to invest even more money in bridging the educational gaps to compensate for this. It recommends that courses should be held in the indigenous peoples ‘own languages ​​(most of which are now spoken only by a few individuals) and that anyone studying to become journalists, nurses, doctors and lawyers should be taught about the indigenous peoples’ history.


Court decides on damages to smokers

A Canadian court orders three tobacco companies to pay damages in excess of Canadian $ 15 billion to two groups representing smokers in Quebec. According to the court, the companies had failed to warn of the risks of smoking. The companies intend to appeal the judgment.

Canadian prisoner released from Guantanamo

A judge decides in April that former Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr (see Political system) should be released on bail. The Canadian government appeals against this, but he is released in May after a decision in another court. However, he must stay with his lawyer, have electronic footsteps, have a nightly curfew and may only use the internet under surveillance.

New support for Iraq

In May, Canada pledges $ 167 million to Iraq. The money will go to humanitarian efforts and to purchase military equipment.

Anti-terrorism laws are adopted

On May 7, the lower house approves the new anti-terror law C51, which was introduced at the beginning of the year (see January 2015) (the Senate gives its approval in June). The criticism of the bill has been harsh (see Political system). A report from the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute think tank says the threat from Muslim extremists exists, but that it is exaggerated by the government. It is also said that the government lacks a long-term strategy to fight the Islamic State(IS) and how Canada should contribute to that fight. Supporting air raids and training local military forces is not enough. The government talks about trying to reach reconciliation between Shia and Sunni, but Canadian influence is limited as long as Canada does not have an embassy in Baghdad, it further states. The report also warns of the consequences if nothing is done about the root causes of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

The NDP wins in Alberta

The provincial election in Alberta on May 5 leads to a regime change, when the NDP wins the election. The former Progressive Conservative Party (PCP) government has ruled the province for 44 years. The NDP looks to get 54 of the 87 seats in the provincial assembly, ahead of the right-wing Wild Rose Party with 21 seats and only then the PCP with 10 seats. New Alberta head of government becomes Rachel Notley. The NDP has promised to drive climate issues, and has promised, among other things, a review of the royalties and taxes currently paid by the oil companies.

Liberal victory in Prince Edward Island

The provincial election in Prince Edward Island on May 4 leads to a victory for the Liberal Party, winning 18 of 27 seats in the provincial assembly.


Action against IS also in Syria

The Canadian government decides to extend its operation against the Islamic State (IS) (see October 2014) to include Syria. The government also extends the mandate for the operation to March 2016. Prime Minister Harper says his government does not intend to seek permission for this from the Assad regime. The opposition opposes Canada’s participation in the military effort against IS.


Economic crisis in Alberta

Low oil prices hit the province of Alberta economy. At the beginning of 2015, the provincial government’s revenue is almost half a billion Canadian dollars below budget. The provincial government estimates that almost 32,000 jobs will disappear during the year.

The lower house approves electoral reform

February 25th

The lower house votes by a clear majority for a bill, called the Reform Act, which means that it is no longer the party leaders who decide, among other things, which candidates may stand in elections, but that each party can decide how they choose their candidates. The government, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Tom Mulcair, are voting for the bill, while the Green Party’s Elizabeth May is voting against. The latter mean that it is not far enough. (It could come into force since the Senate also approved in June 2015).

Obama vetoes Keystone XL

February 24th

US President Barack Obama at the end of the month vetoes the Keystone XL pipeline, which is scheduled to ship oil from Alberta to the United States. However, this does not mean a total stop for the project, but is about postponing the waiting for the US State Department to review it, as the oil pipeline would cross a national border (see Natural Resources and Energy).

The court gives the sign of euthanasia in some cases

February 9

The Supreme Court unanimously decides that adults suffering from an incurable disease and risk the extract and tormented suffering should be entitled to euthanasia. The case has been brought by relatives of two seriously ill women and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Both women have died before the case reaches the highest legal level, one of them at an euthanasia clinic in Switzerland. Euthanasia has been banned in Canada since the Supreme Court rejected a similar case in 1993. Several religious groups oppose euthanasia and are critical of court rulings. However, euthanasia remains illegal for the next twelve months, pending the government to present a new regulatory framework.


Proposal for new anti-terrorism legislation

At the end of the month, Harper is proposing a bill to ban terrorist attacks against Canada, even when it is done in public terms. In the past it has only been punishable when it comes to specific threats. According to this, the country’s intelligence agency, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is to be given new powers, among other things, to prevent people from boarding a plane etc. CSIS also gets the right to shut down Canadian websites with jihadist propaganda. Suspected terrorists should also be kept in custody for seven days, instead of three, without prosecution being brought. The bill is being criticized for deficiencies in the control of CSIS and for the measures that may constitute a violation of statutory civil rights.

Canada is drawn into ground fighting in Iraq

Reports come in the middle of the month that Canadian soldiers have fired Islamic State (IS) snipers in Iraq. This is the first time that Western troops appear to be involved in ground fighting. Canada has about 600 people in the region. About a week later, a similar incident is reported. The opposition criticizes Prime Minister Harper, claiming that the promise that Canadian soldiers would not participate in any ground fighting.

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