Number of Independent Schools in Ontario up 52% Since 2013

Cardus 2022

Growth trend in Ontario’s independent schooling pre-dates COVID, study finds


November 22, 2022

HAMILTON, ON – Ontario is seeing explosive growth in independent schools, according to Naturally Diverse: The Landscape of Independent Schools in Ontario. The new report from Cardus finds:

  • Today, there are at least 1,445 independent schools in Ontario.
  • The number of independent schools is up by almost 52% since 2013-14.
  • Independent school enrolment increased by 29,531 students from 2013-14 to 2019-20—the most growth of any Canadian province.
  • As of 2019-20 (the most recent enrolment data), independent schools educate over 154,000 students in Ontario.

“Unlike Quebec and every Western province, Ontario offers zero taxpayer funding for independent schools, yet many parents value them enough to pay for tuition over and above the taxes they contribute towards district schools,” says David Hunt, education director at Cardus and a report co-author. “Ontario’s Ministry of Education, political leaders, researchers, the media, and the public should seek to understand why our neighbours, friends, and family members are making these choices. We hope our report sheds new light.”

Naturally Diverse: The Landscape of Independent Schools in Ontario also finds:

  • Over 40% of independent schools have a specialization, like special education or Montessori.
  • Just 4% of independent schools are so-called “elite” institutions.
  • Three out of four "elite" schools are in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Less than 40% of independent schools are religiously based.
  • One in four religious independent schools are Jewish or Muslim.
  • 64% of independent schools are in various suburbs, while 28% are in rural or semi-rural areas.

“There is extraordinary diversity among Ontario’s independent schools,” says Hunt. “Each school serves unique and specific student needs that district schools either don’t or can’t meet.”

Naturally Diverse: The Landscape of Independent Schools in Ontario is freely available at


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.

Topics: Education