Introduction

Ontario’s highly educated workforce is one of its greatest strengths. More students — 85.5 per cent — are graduating from high school than ever before. And in 2016, the province achieved a 68 per cent postsecondary attainment rate, higher than rates for any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Ontario’s world-class education system provides learners, young and old, with opportunities to access high-quality education and training programs, giving them the knowledge and skills they need for success in the modern economy.

The Province is committed to helping all children and students reach their full potential by preparing them for postsecondary education and training. All children benefit from a stronger start in school and in life, beginning with a full-day kindergarten (FDK) program. More than one million children have been enrolled in the FDK program, preparing them for greater success in school and increasing overall Grade 1 reading, writing and math scores.

Through innovative programs and an enhanced focus on hands-on learning, Ontario is ensuring that high school students are prepared for further education and the world of work. By making postsecondary education more accessible and affordable, the government is helping people pursue or retrain for their career of choice.

Across the province, the government has invested in new and renovated classrooms and school facilities. Since 2013, 146 new schools and 183 major additions and renovations have been completed to better support student achievement and well-being.

Investing in Education

What We’ve Been Doing since 2013

  • Creating 56,000 new licensed child care spaces and committing to help 100,000 more children access affordable, quality licensed child care
  • Completing the rollout of full-day kindergarten for all four- and five-year olds
  • Implementing a renewed math strategy that includes 60 minutes per day of dedicated math learning in Grades 1–8
  • Strengthening communities by building 146 new schools and expanding or renovating 183 schools across Ontario
  • Transforming OSAP to make average tuition free for more than 210,000 students
  • Modernizing research facilities at colleges and universities and expanding access to postsecondary education, including building new university sites in Markham, Brampton and Milton

Achieving Excellence

Reducing Class Sizes

Elementary school children posing for photo at school
Small class sizes mean students get more time and attention from teachers and tend to do better in school.

Reducing class sizes is part of Ontario’s commitment to improving education and is providing teachers the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with students. Since 2003–04, the Province has reduced the average class size in Grades 4 to 8 to fewer than 25 students. However, certain school boards still have class sizes above the provincial average. That is why the Province is making additional investments to help ensure that all school boards move to an average class size in Grades 4 to 8 of fewer than 25 students.

Currently, FDK classes are regulated at a board-wide average of 26 students. However, certain FDK classes may exceed this average. To meet this challenge, the Province is moving forward with introducing class size caps of 30 students for FDK classes in 2017–18, and 29 students in 2018–19.

Improving Math Knowledge and Skills

Young girl doing math on a chalk board
More resources to help students improve their math skills will better prepare them for future jobs.

Math knowledge and skills are critical components of success. Ontario’s math curriculum has been designed to help students build a solid conceptual foundation in math so they can develop skills such as problem solving, investigation, assessment and repetition to further their learning successfully.

Learning math results in more than a mastery of basic skills. It equips students with a concise and powerful means of communication. Mathematical language, structures, operations and processes provide students with a framework and tools to reason, justify conclusions and express ideas clearly.

The government has taken a number of steps to strengthen students’ mathematical understanding and problem‐solving skills, including:

  • Implementing an improved math strategy that ensures teachers in Grades 1 to 8 now spend 60 minutes per day focusing on effective instruction in math;
  • Introducing TVO mPower in classrooms, which provides students with a creative, game-based math resource designed to foster positive attitudes towards math and develop foundational numeracy and math skills; and
  • Supported lead math teachers, coaches and professional learning courses in all schools to support effective math teaching and learning.

With an enhanced focus on math skills both inside and outside the classroom, more students improve their math skills and learn problem-solving they can apply in their daily lives, which will eventually give them a competitive advantage in a highly skilled workplace.

Supporting Education for the Changing Economy

Ontario is partnering with educators on 29 pilot projects across the province to revise the current high school career studies course and help students develop the skills they need to compete in the rapidly changing and highly competitive global economy.

The career studies pilot projects will include the development of innovative learning opportunities related to financial literacy, entrepreneurship skills, digital literacy and career/life planning. Teachers will examine ways to:

  • Equip students with the skills and knowledge they will need in the new global economy;
  • Help students explore all career paths and opportunities; and
  • Support the teaching and learning of the course through a variety of new methods.

Teachers’ feedback from these pilots will be instrumental in helping to determine what the career studies course might become.

Ontario has also introduced a Financial Literacy Strategy into Grade 4 to 12 classrooms. This strategy focuses learning on integrating four key components of financial literacy into the curriculum: personal finance, economic understanding, consumer awareness and citizenship.

Implementing Ontario’s Indigenous Education Strategy

Through meaningful engagement with Indigenous partners, improving Indigenous education in Ontario is an important part of the government’s plan to create jobs, grow the economy and help people in their everyday lives.

The Province provides support to all school boards across Ontario to hire a dedicated Indigenous Education Lead to collaborate with First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities, organizations, students and families to support the implementation of Ontario’s Indigenous Education Strategy.

The strategy focuses on achieving two primary objectives:

Children sitting in a circle with teacher
Teaching every child in Ontario the truth about our past and what it means today.
  • Improving achievement and well-being among First Nation, Métis and Inuit students; and
  • Closing the achievement gap between Indigenous students and all other students.

Investing in Indigenous education, well-being and achievement is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and part of the broader goals of ensuring Ontario’s education system promotes the success of all students.

Developing a Master Education Agreement with the Anishinabek Nation

The Province is developing a Master Education Agreement with the Anishinabek Nation, which represents 40 First Nations throughout Ontario, from Golden Lake in the east, to Sarnia in the south, and Thunder Bay and Lake Nipigon in the north.

The agreement will support ongoing collaboration on strategies to promote Anishinabek student success and well-being, support transitions between First Nation schools and Ontario schools, and assist the Anishinabek Education System by providing high-quality, Anishinabek educational programs and services in First Nation schools.

Ensuring Equity

Strengthening Supports for Students with Special Needs

Ontario is committed to ensuring all children and students will be inspired to reach their full potential, with access to robust services and effective programs in their home communities. Equity and inclusion in Ontario’s education system help all students achieve excellence, regardless of their background or personal circumstances.

The Province is strengthening supports for students with special needs through a number of investments, including:

  • Keeping all provincial and demonstration schools open to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing; blind or have low vision; deafblind; or who have severe learning disabilities;
  • Piloting intensive reading intervention projects in school boards to increase the availability and responsiveness of local community supports for students with severe learning disabilities;
  • Establishing a reference group to provide guidance and input on strengthening supports
    for students who are deaf or hard of hearing; and
  • Pursuing legislative changes to transfer the governance structure of Centre Jules-Léger to the 12 French-language school boards to better support French-language communities.

Enhancing Autism Supports

The Province is enhancing autism supports in schools to help children transition to, and continue in, full-time school, including:

  • Multidisciplinary, student-specific, school-based transition teams supporting all children transitioning from Intensive Behavioural Intervention services; and
  • After-school skills development programs to provide students with additional opportunities to develop targeted skills outside the instructional day and to better equip them for classroom success.

See Chapter IV, Section D: Building Inclusive Communities and Improving the Justice System for additional details.

Promoting Student Well-Being

Ontario knows the importance of well-being to the overall growth and development of children and students. For 70 per cent of adults who are living with mental health challenges, their symptoms developed during childhood or adolescence. Necessary treatment is often not given early enough, with many families struggling to navigate services and get the right support for their children and youth.

Children who have a positive sense of self are better positioned to reach their full potential. That is why the government is investing an additional $49 million over the next three years in developing and strengthening programs to improve students’ cognitive, emotional, social and physical development through Equity and Inclusive Education, Safe and Accepting Schools, Healthy Schools and Positive Mental Health.

The Province is looking to develop a shared vision of how the government can best support the well-being of all students and staff in collaboration with community members. To support this shared vision, Ontario is seeking input to develop an understanding of the challenges, opportunities and meaningful indicators of well-being from kindergarten to Grade 12, such as physical activity, bullying and mental health. The government has also established School Mental Health ASSIST, which helps school boards build capacity to support student mental health and well-being.

A revised health and physical education curriculum is also helping students develop the skills and knowledge that will enable them to enjoy being active and healthy throughout their lives, through opportunities to participate regularly and safely in physical activity and to learn how to develop and improve their own personal fitness.

The Province has selected the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, in partnership with the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University, to lead a province-wide knowledge network that will connect front-line educators to the most up-to-date research on student well-being. The goal is to promote evidence-based practices, such as high-quality professional learning, local leadership and the implementation of social and emotional learning.

Building New and Improved Schools

The Province is providing almost $16 billion in capital grants over 10 years to help build new schools in high-growth areas, improve the condition of existing schools and invest in projects to reduce surplus space.

As part of this investment, Ontario is continuing to fund school renewal across the province. Building on the 2016 commitment to increase renewal funding for schools, the Province will extend the commitment with an additional $1.2 billion in funding for repairs and renewal over the next two school years. This funding will continue to enable school boards to repair roofs, update HVAC units and modernize electrical and plumbing systems. This investment will also improve visible elements of schools that impact students’ learning and well-being, including flooring, walls, ceilings and playing fields.

The Province will also make investments in school renewal as part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan. Ontario will provide funding for existing schools to improve energy efficiency and install renewable energy technologies. Technologies could include building automation systems, energy-efficient windows, solar energy and geothermal systems. These improvements will help reduce greenhouse gas pollution, improve financial sustainability, promote environmental stewardship and support student achievement.

Across the province, Ontario is investing in new and improved schools, which will help deliver high-quality programs to all students and will increase student achievement and well-being. Currently, the Province is building 95 new schools and expanding and renovating 54 existing ones.

Chart 4.2 Examples of Schools To Be Opened or Under Construction
in 2017–18

Examples of Schools To Be Opened or Under Construction in 2017–18
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Accessible description of Chart 4.2
Rendering of Sioux Lookout High School building
Rendering of the new Sioux Lookout high school, replacing Queen Elizabeth District High School, and slated to be completed by September 2018.
Front view of West Gate Public School building
West Gate Public School in Windsor opened in September 2014.
Front view of Orillia Secondary School building
Orillia Secondary School opened in March 2016.
Front view of Michaëlle Jean Public School building
Michaëlle Jean Public School in Ajax opened in September 2015.
Front view of St. Benedict Catholic School building
St. Benedict Catholic Elementary School in Nepean opened in September 2016.

Negotiating Central Agreements for Teachers and Education Workers

The government recently reached tentative agreements with teachers’ federations and education workers’ unions to extend the current contracts for two years. These agreements include modest wage increases and additional support for teachers and classrooms. The tentative agreements reached allow teachers to stay focused on students’ success and reduce the risk of disruptions during the school year.

In March 2017, amendments to the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act, 2014 were passed, allowing the Province to implement the recently negotiated agreements and enhance an already-successful model for collective bargaining in Ontario’s education sector with increased flexibility, transparency and consistency.

Ensuring a High-Quality, Accessible Postsecondary Education System

Ontario’s universities and colleges are among the best in the world. They play a significant role in ensuring students receive the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the modern, knowledge-based economy. Many students now face a rapidly changing and uncertain world after graduation. The government is transforming the postsecondary education system to ensure that it remains highly competitive and equips students for the challenges and opportunities of a changing global economy.

It starts with access. Beginning this fall, Ontario is rolling out the redesigned Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to provide more transparent, timely and targeted financial assistance to students with the greatest financial need. These changes will make average tuition free for more than 210,000 Ontario students and reduce the cost for many more, ensuring that more Ontarians are able to pursue a postsecondary education. See Chapter II: Helping You and Your Family for additional details.

It’s also about opportunity. Ontario is increasing its focus on giving students the skills and experience required for the economy of tomorrow. This includes promoting innovative teaching, helping with career readiness and creating an outcome-oriented postsecondary education system. Through partnerships with universities, colleges and employers, Ontario will launch its new Career Kick-Start Strategy. For more information, see Chapter III: Creating Opportunities and Security.

In order to provide people with the best education and opportunities, the system needs to be adaptive, supportive and sustainable. Over the last two years, the Province has been working with universities and colleges to reform their funding formulas, effective 2017–18. The new funding model will support a renewed focus on providing high-quality outcomes for students by tying a portion of college and university funding to performance outcomes and areas of institutional strength. Using both institutional and system-level metrics, the government will work with colleges and universities to set clear performance targets through strategic mandate agreements.

Envisioning a French-Language University

Ontario is committed to supporting a vibrant learning environment for francophone postsecondary programs and services. In 2016, the Province created the French-language University Planning Board consisting of representatives from Ontario’s francophone community with a strong understanding of, and expertise in, francophone/bilingual postsecondary education. The planning board will provide advice to the government on cost and design elements for the university, so that more students can access French-language postsecondary education.

Investing in Postsecondary Education Infrastructure

The Province also collaborated with the federal government, colleges, universities and Aboriginal Institutes to implement the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund in Ontario. Shared investments of more than $1.9 billion from 2016–17 to 2018–19 will enhance and modernize research facilities on campuses and improve the environmental sustainability of these facilities.

TABLE 4.2 Examples of Projects Benefiting from Shared Investments under the
Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund in Ontario

Durham CollegeDurham College logo Durham College — Building a new Centre for Collaborative Education that will include a Global Class initiative that connects students with subject-matter experts around the world, and an Entrepreneurship Centre that connects students with local business leaders, providing access to the resources and expertise needed to launch new companies and startup ideas.
Fanshawe CollegeFanshawe College logo Fanshawe College — Renovation of the college’s existing building to include a new Centre for Advanced Research and Innovation in Biotechnology.
Sault CollegeSault College logo Sault College — Development of a new Institute for the Environment, Education and Entrepreneurship (iE3), allowing industries and academia to collaborate in areas of vital importance to the north, including information and communication technology and the management of forestry, water, wildlife and energy resources.
Trent UniversityTrent University logo Trent University — Establishment of the Bata Research and Innovation Cluster, which entails a LEED-inspired renovation of two floors to create seven centres dedicated to research and innovation, as well as three interactive spaces.
University of TorontoUniversity of Toronto logo University of Toronto — Renewal of 546 labs across the university’s three campuses, which will result in students, professors and researchers working in state-of-the-art facilities that advance the country’s best research.

Advancing Education and Career Opportunities for Indigenous Learners

The government is committed to strengthening the pathways to postsecondary education and training for Indigenous learners, while recognizing and building the capacity of the nine Indigenous-owned and -operated Aboriginal Institutes in Ontario.

That is why the Province is investing about $200 million over three years to support key initiatives that will help more First Nation, Métis and Inuit learners access high-quality postsecondary education and training opportunities. This includes an investment of $56 million over three years to enhance the capacity and sustainability of nine publicly funded Aboriginal Institutes in Ontario.

This historic investment in the sustainability of Aboriginal Institutes supports the shared goal of increasing educational access and opportunity while providing certainty for Indigenous learners in Ontario.

The institutes provide a pathway for Indigenous learners to successfully advance their educational and career goals in culturally appropriate and safe learning environments that are close to home and are run and governed by Indigenous communities. They offer postsecondary education and training programs, in direct response to local labour market needs, to over 1,000 students annually. On average, about 300 learners graduate from Aboriginal Institutes every year.

The investment also reflects broader government priorities, including reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the development of a highly skilled workforce.

Chart 4.3 Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Institutes in Ontario

Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Institutes in Ontario
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Accessible description of Chart 4.3

Chart Descriptions

Chart 4.2: Examples of Schools To Be Opened or Under Construction in 2017–18

This map shows examples of schools to be opened or under construction in 2017–18.

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Chart 4.3: Aboriginal Postsecondary Education and Training Institutes in Ontario

This map shows the location of all 12 main and satellite campuses for the nine Aboriginal Institutes located throughout Ontario.

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