Ontario Education Funding Clashes with Canadian, Global Norms



HAMILTON, ON – With kids back at school and Ontario’s legislature just weeks away from re-opening, new research points to a critical gap in the province’s education funding approach, which further disadvantages the already disadvantaged. In an education system that prides itself on equity, inclusion, and excellence, independent schools should not be seen as reserved for Ontarians of wealth and privilege. The Cardus think tank report, Funding All Students, points to the fact that, globally, 73 percent of countries at least partially fund their independent schools—only one OECD country does not—and in Canada outside Ontario, 75 percent of independent schools and 84 percent of independent school students are partially publicly funded. Drawing on these Canadian funding models already in use, the study sketches out what it would cost to designate public funds to follow all Ontario students to the school that best meets their needs—including independent schools.

Partial funding of students at independent schools in Ontario could cost as little as $535 million, with independent schools receiving 50 percent of the per-student operating funding rate that public schools get. That would be the equivalent of 0.3 percent of the Government of Ontario’s $186 billion annual budget. Even offering full operational funding to Ontario independent schools would cost less than one percent of the annual budget at an estimated $1.5 billion.

“Clearly, extending public support to independent schools is affordable in Ontario and takes nothing away from government-run schools,” says David Hunt, Cardus Education Director and report co-author. “All of us benefit when we look out for our neighbours and help ensure all students, especially the most disadvantaged, receive the education that is right for them and best fits their needs.”

Ultimately, Ontario’s lack of equitable funding—entirely excluding the independent-school sector from public funds—is out of step with global and even Canadian norms. At least partially funding students in independent schools is the basic standard in democracies and advanced economies, as well as in Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia.

“Ontario’s government really needs to consider whether it wants the province to continue being an outlier in terms of equitable and fair education funding,” says Hunt.

Funding All Students is freely available online.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

About Cardus
Cardus is a non-partisan, faith-based think tank, and registered charity dedicated to promoting a flourishing society through independent research, robust public dialogue, and thought-provoking commentary.

Topics: Education


Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.