First Nations Education Act

Budget 2014

Economic Action Plan 2014 confirms significant new investments to support the implementation of a First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.

Education is fundamental to ensuring full equality of opportunity and a share in Canada’s prosperous future. The Government will work with its partners so that young First Nations people will have access to education systems on reserves comparable to provincial and territorial school systems. For this young and fast-growing population, this is a game-changer.

The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act will establish the structures and standards necessary to ensure stronger, more accountable education systems on reserves and will result in better outcomes for First Nations students.

Economic Action Plan 2014 confirms core funding of $1.25 billion from 2016–17 to 2018–19 in support of the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act. When implemented, the legislation will provide stable and predictable statutory funding consistent with provincial education funding models.

In addition, Economic Action Plan 2014 confirms a new Enhanced Education Fund that will provide funding of $160 million over four years starting in 2015–16. This funding will help to develop the partnerships and institutional structures required to implement the proposed legislation, including support for new First Nations education authorities.

New funding to build and renovate schools is also confirmed, with $500 million over seven years beginning in 2015–16 for a new Education Infrastructure Fund. This represents a continuation of the investments in school infrastructure announced in Economic Action Plan 2012.   

Taken together, these investments totalling over $1.9 billion will support legislation to reform the on-reserve education system, providing First Nations children with access to a modern and accountable education regime that aligns with provincial education systems off reserve. 

Improving graduation rates for First Nations students is an objective the Government shares with First Nation parents, educators and leaders. In Budget 2010 the Government committed to work with First Nations to develop options, including new legislation, to improve the governance framework and clarify accountability for First Nations elementary and secondary education. In 2011, the Government and the Assembly of First Nations launched a National Panel, which made a number of recommendations for reforming First Nations education in its February 2012 report.

To help ensure readiness for new First Nations education systems to be outlined in legislation, Economic Action Plan 2012 invested $100 million over three years for First Nations education to provide early literacy programming and other supports and services to First Nations schools and students, and to strengthen their relationships with provincial school systems.

To complement investments in First Nation education programming, Economic Action Plan 2012 also invested $175 million over three years to build and renovate schools on reserve, providing First Nation youth with better learning environments. This builds on investments in on-reserve school infrastructure made as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan between 2009 and 2011.

In response to the Panel’s report, the Government is working with partners to introduce a First Nation Education Act. The purpose of this legislation will be to establish the structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve. This will set the stage for more positive education outcomes for First Nations children and youth. In parallel to the work on legislation, the Government is also exploring mechanisms to ensure stable, predictable and sustainable funding for First Nation elementary and secondary education.

The Government will continue to consult and work with First Nations across Canada on the development of legislation.

About the Initiative

We know that more needs to be done to ensure that First Nation students achieve the same educational outcomes as other Canadians. The purpose of these initiatives is to work to establish the structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve, all of which will set the stage for more positive education outcomes for First Nations children and youth.

The Government of Canada’s overarching goal is to provide First Nation students with quality education that provides them with the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to enter the labour market and be active participants in a strong Canadian economy.

Who Will Benefit

The Government of Canada is committed to working with First Nation partners to provide First Nation students with the quality education they require for success and to realize their aspirations.

Initiative Update

The Government of Canada is committed to funding schools that create quality learning environments for First Nation students on reserves. Of the $275 million committed in Economic Action Plan 2012 for First Nations education, $175 million is being used to build and renovate schools on reserve, providing First Nation students with a better learning environment.

The remaining $100 million is being used to provide early literacy programming and partnerships with the provincial schools systems through the new Strong Schools, Successful Students Initiative announced in October 2012.

The Government of Canada is also committed to working with partners to introduce a First Nation Education Act. The purpose of the legislation will be to establish structures and standards to support strong and accountable K-12 education systems on reserve. This will set the stage for more positive education outcomes for First Nation students.

In December 2012 the Government announced the start of intensive consultations with First Nations on the development of a First Nation Education Act. The first phase, which included eight consultation sessions across Canada, more than 30 video and teleconference sessions, and online consultation activities, was completed in May 2013.

The input gathered during this initial phase helped to inform the drafting of proposed legislation.

In the second phase, the draft legislative proposal was shared with First Nation communities across Canada, as well as with provincial governments, and other stakeholders, for feedback. The Government is committed to continue the consultations and collaborative work with First Nations on the development of legislation prior to being introduced in Parliament.

Find Out More

For more information, please visit the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website.

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