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Education Indicators in Canada, biannual

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Released: 2017-09-19

New tables from the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program are now available.

This edition includes information on the school-aged population living in low income, results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), education finances, apprenticeships and educational attainment of the Canadian population.

These indicators provide useful insights on the school-aged population and elementary and secondary education in Canada. One characteristic of interest for the school aged-population is the proportion of Canadian youth living in low income. These tables reveal that in 2015, 15% of youth aged 5 to 19 years were in low-income families. For 5- to 19-year-olds living in lone-parent families, this proportion was almost double at 28%.

Once in the Canadian elementary and secondary school system, Canadian youth do fairly well according to PISA, which provides an international assessment of literacy, mathematics and science skills for young people aged 15. In 2015, Canadian 15-year-olds achieved a mean score of 528 in science, above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 493. Among the provinces, students in Alberta and British Columbia had the highest average score in science and in reading, while students in Quebec recorded the highest average score in math.

The elementary-secondary level is where the largest share of private and public expenditure on education in Canada takes place (58%). While the 2013/2014 finance data show that elementary-secondary education accounts for the majority of education expenditure in all provinces and territories, there is some regional variation at the postsecondary level. For example, 37% of public and private expenditure on education in Nova Scotia is spent at the university level (a province with 13 universities), while 11% is spent at the college level. In contrast, in Prince Edward Island, there is a smaller difference in the amounts spent at the college (21%) and university (24%) levels.

These indicators also reveal interesting information about postsecondary education in Canada, particularly regarding differences in male and female participation. While 87% of the 453,543 apprentices registered in 2015 were men, 13% of these apprentices were women.

Men and women tend to register in different types of apprenticeship programs. For women, the top four trades in 2015 were hairstylists and estheticians; food service; user support technicians; and early childhood education. Conversely, four of the top five trades for men were plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters; carpenters; automotive service; and welders. In 2015, the only trade that ranked in the top five for both sexes was electricians.

At the university level, young women aged 25 to 34 have realized increasingly higher levels of educational attainment. The proportion of 25-to-34-year-old women who had attained an undergraduate degree as their highest level of educational attainment increased from 24% in 2005 to 29% in 2016. For young men, the increase was from 18% in 2005 to 21% in 2016. During the same period, the proportion of women who had a master's or doctoral degree as their highest level of education increased four percentage points, from 8% to 12%. For men, the increase was from 7% to 8%. These increases were in a general context of a high level of educational attainment in Canada.

Finally, young women were not the only group whose education levels have been increasing. From 2011 to 2016 the proportion of off-reserve First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations (aged 25 to 64) who indicated having a college qualification as their highest level of educational attainment rose from 23% to 26%. The proportion of First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit who had attained a university qualification also increased, from 10% to 12% during the same period.

  Note to readers

The Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program is an ongoing initiative of the Canadian Education Statistics Council, a partnership between Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education (Canada) that provides a set of statistical measures on education systems in Canada.


The publication, Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program, September 2017, September 2017 (Catalogue number81-582-X), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website, under Publications.

The product, Education Indicators in Canada: Handbook for the Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program (Catalogue number81-582-G), is also now available. This handbook provides general descriptions for each indicator, and the major concepts and definitions used, as well as an overview of the methodology, limitations and data sources.

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