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Ontario Has Another Good Reason to Reconsider Independent School Funding


September 5, 2018
Ontario can make educational options more affordable for families without disrupting public schooling .

A newly released Cardus study examines the Saskatchewan government’s 2012 move to extend partial funding to previously unfunded independent schools in that province. In the first year that funding became available for Qualified Independent Schools, half the non-funded independent schools in the province joined the new category, receiving 50 percent of the per-student average funding that government schools get for operational expenses.  Since 2012/13, QIS enrolments have grown by about 37 percent, but overall numbers are small, moving from 608 to 834 students. Of particular interest is the fact that the number of qualified independent schools has remained virtually unchanged over six years.

“The major change in the number of schools participating occurred only in the first year of the policy change, probably reflecting pent up demand for more alternative and affordable options,” says Dr. Deani Van Pelt, a Cardus Senior Fellow and author of the new Cardus report. “It is possible we’d see a similar effect in Ontario if the province adopted a similar policy: An initial adjustment in schools qualifying for participation in the new category of funded schools, followed by a period of relative stability.”

Saskatchewan requires Qualified Independent Schools to meet a series of requirements in order to receive partial funding, including adherence to the Saskatchewan curriculum, employing only fully certified teachers, and submitting to provincial supervision and inspection.

“All stakeholders won in Saskatchewan,” says Dr. Van Pelt. “Parents and students had more options. Schools received improved stability, credibility, and professional development, and government benefitted through improved transparency of independent school operations.”

A PDF version of Qualified Independent Schools in Saskatchewan: An Examination of a Recent Policy Change for a New Category of Funded Independent Schools is freely available online.

For interviews with Dr. Van Pelt, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis at

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications