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article imageAmount of school choice varies widely across Canada Special

By Tim Sandle     Feb 28, 2014 in Lifestyle
Toronto - Alberta offer parents the greatest degree of school choice in Canada whereas Atlantic Provinces offer the least. This is according to a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.
Digital Journal spoke with Jason Clemens, executive vice-president of the Fraser Institute and co-author of the report 'Measuring Choice and Competition in Canadian Education'. Clemens spoke about the why the research results were important:
“School choice empowers parents, and a growing body of research confirms that students benefit when parents have educational choices and schools are forced to compete with one another.”
Clemens went onto explain that the study analyzes the public system, independent schools and home schooling, to determine the degree of choice available to parents, and the level of school competition across Canada. The findings showed that come provinces rely on choice and competition within the public system while others rely more on independent schools to provide choice.
In relation to different types of schooling in Canada, the Fraser Institute’s findings showed:
Public schools: Total enrolment in public schools in Canada ranges from a low of 87.5 per cent of students in British Columbia and Quebec to a high of 98.8 per cent in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Independent schools: Enrolment in independent schools varies from a low of 0.9 per cent of students in New Brunswick to a high of 12.5 per cent in Quebec, while B.C. (12.1 per cent), Manitoba (7.4 per cent), Ontario (5.1 per cent) and Alberta (4.6 per cent) also have active independent school systems.
Home schooling: While all 10 provinces permit home schooling, Alberta, which provides $1,641 per home school student, has the highest percentage of home school enrolment (1.6 per cent). In most other provinces, home school enrolment sits below 0.5 per cent.
In relation to public schools — which most students attend — the research showed that Alberta and Ontario offer a great deal of parental choice within the public school system. Both provinces provide four fully-funded public education systems: English public, French public, English Catholic, and French Catholic. Additionally, Alberta, unlike any other province, also fully funds charter schools. In contrast, British Columbia, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces offer only two choices within the public school system — English and French public schools, although second language schools are quite limited except in New Brunswick.
Discussing this, Jason Clemens said: “Because provinces have autonomy over education, the degree of school choice and competition varies across Canada. Parents in Alberta enjoy choice in both the public and independent school systems, Ontario relies largely on the public system, while Quebec and B.C. rely more on independent schools."
Clemens added a pertinent postscript: "And unfortunately for parents in the Atlantic provinces, they’re afforded the least educational choice and competition in Canada.”
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