First Nations students face continued funding shortfalls, advocate says

September 1, 2017

Canada has one of the best education systems in the world, yet First Nations students are set to return in September to an under-funded, under-equipped education system, says Cindy Blackstock, education and child welfare advocate.

The Liberal government committed to $2.6 billion over five years in its 2016 budget toward Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada education funding.

The aim was to close the education gap, which is the difference between INAC funding for on-reserve schools, and the funding that occurs through the provincially run public school system.

Gap estimated at $665M

In December of that year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer reported that the high education gap was estimated at $665 million.

Blackstock said the feds aren't following through with their commitment to improving First Nations education.  

"Since the PBO report came out, Canada has not announced any plans to address the remaining shortfalls," said Blackstock.

"In 2016, the PBO found significant shortfalls in First Nations education funding even after taking into account the new investments in Budget 2016. Budget 2016 falls far short of what is needed to ensure First Nations students receive an education on par with others."

Many First Nations schools need repair and are hazardous to the health of students, she added.

The PBO report stated that the shortfall was a result "of INAC not adequately costing for operating small schools in remote northern regions." In 2012-13, there were over 110,000 First Nations students living on reserves and about 500 band-operated schools in Canada serving roughly 65 percent of the on-reserve student population.

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