Impacts of Demographic Change on Public Education
Major demographic changes in the number, characteristics and location of school-aged children present challenges and opportunities for education systems across the country. The trends vary across the country and different locations and jurisdictions face different challenges. In some communities, schools are becoming overcrowded, while others are under-utilized. Across the country ethnic, linguistic and/or socio-economic characteristics of school populations are witnessing dramatic change. The effects of these changes will have an impact on Canada’s economic prosperity and social cohesion. Given the extent of these demographic shifts, their implications for Canadian public policy and our education systems warrant broad national discussion.
The demographic project was designed to analyze existing research and statistics, to raise awareness by engaging communities across the country in a discussion about the impact of major population changes on education and to develop policy options for governments and communities. The study, conducted by The Learning Partnership with funding from the Margaret McCain Foundation, CD Howe Institute, TD Bank Financial Group and the Canadian Council on Learning, explores current and future trends, as well as, policy and planning challenges for federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions and school boards.
A team headed by Dr. Edward Harvey, former dean of sociology at OISE/UT, together with Dr. René Houle, a demographer from the Canadian Research Centre for Public Policy, University of New Brunswick, and Ellen Kachuck Rosenbluth, The Learning Partnership, prepared the background research paper. A user friendly roundtable discussion paper was then used to facilitate a series of Pan-Canadian roundtables. These discussions were designed to engage a range of stakeholders from several regions across the country to document their comments and recommendations.
The Learning Partnership commissioned Environics to conduct a survey measuring the perceptions of the impact of demographic changes in Canadian society on public education, and attitudes towards increasing resources to help those in need achieve more successful outcomes. A summary report integrated these ideas with the findings from the background paper.
A total of 1,010 Canadians were polled from August 24th to August 28th, 2006. A sample of this size has a margin of error of +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
Highlights of the findings from the final Environics Survey are:
- Increased immigration is seen by more Canadians as having the biggest impact on public education
- Six-in-ten (60%) of Canadians believe that Canadian schools are effective in meeting the needs of the children of immigrants
- Majority support increasing resources
- Significant regional differences exist
French versions of the following publications are also available:
Roundtable Discussion Paper