Ontario Loses by Marginalizing Independent Schools



October 25, 2018

New research confirms that Ontario’s independent schools are producing socially engaged, generous graduates with zero provincial support. 

The new Cardus Education Survey 2018: Ontario Bulletin finds that the province’s independent religious schools produce the Ontario’s most civically engaged graduates. They’re the most likely grads to participate in almost every Statistics Canada category of volunteering, they’re more trusting of strangers, co-workers, and neighbours, and they’re more likely to pay attention to the news.

“Many Canadians rightly worry about the loss of civility in our culture, the decline in how welcoming our country is, and a drop in charitable giving,” says Dr. Beth Green, who directs education research at think tank Cardus. “Ontario’s independent schools – especially the religious ones – help counteract these negative trends by producing graduates who are interested and involved in the world around them.”

Despite these results, Ontario remains the only province from Quebec to British Columbia that offers no public funding for independent schools.

“Ontario loses by marginalizing independent schools and funding government-run schools exclusively,” says Dr. Green. “It should bring independent schools in from the cold by making them more affordable for low and middle-income families whose needs aren’t met by government-run schools.”

The 2018 Cardus Education Survey: Ontario Bulletin contains findings from respondents aged 24 to 39, all of whom graduated from a public, separate Catholic, independent Catholic, evangelical Protestant independent, or non-religious independent school in Ontario. Researchers control for socio-demographic factors in order to isolate the school effect on students. Other notable findings include:

  • Non-religious independent and independent Catholic school graduates are twice as likely as public school graduates are to obtain a Master’s or an advanced specialist degree.
  • Catholic and Protestant independent school graduates are just as likely as their public school counterparts are to have a friend who is gay or lesbian.
  • Public school graduates are least likely to agree with the statement: most people can be trusted.

Meanwhile, Cardus Executive Vice President Ray Pennings notes independent school enrollment is up.

“Independent schools now teach more than six percent of all students in Ontario,” says Pennings. “Parents are increasingly seeking affordable options for their kids’ diverse educational needs.”

To book an interview with Dr. Beth Green or Ray Pennings, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus - Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508

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. To learn more, visit our website, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Topics: Education


Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, social cities, 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.