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Public elementary and secondary school board revenues and expenditures, 2017/2018

Released: 2020-07-15

Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary school boards and districts across Canada rose 2.1% to $48.7 billion from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018, while total revenues were up 2.4% to $48.3 billion.

The increase in total revenues coincided with growth in the student population in Canada. From 2016/2017 to 2017/2018, the total number of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools grew by 1.1% to 4.9 million.

Government funding plays a larger role in the financing of public schools

Canadian public elementary and secondary schools received $45.3 billion from government sources in 2017/2018, accounting for 93.8% of their total revenue nationally. Government funding increased for the fourth consecutive year, up 2.6% from 2016/2017. The growth in funding coincided with the continuing rise in public school enrolment.

Provincial and territorial sources accounted for almost three-quarters (73.5%, or $33.3 billion) of total government funding in 2017/2018. However, the amount of money Canadian public schools received from provincial and territorial governments differed markedly across the country, ranging from 54.4% in Manitoba to 99.7% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Revenues from private sources declined for the first time in five years, down 1.0% to $3.0 billion from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018. Revenues from private sources primarily include student fees and ancillary operations.

Debt charges on school capital expenditures continue to decline

Debt charges on school capital expenditures declined for the sixth consecutive year in 2017/2018. Nationally, debt charges fell 3.2% to $578 million from 2016/2017 to 2017/2018.

The annual decline in debt charges on school capital expenditures was the trend in most provinces and territories in 2017/2018. Expenditures rose in Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec and remained stable or decreased in all other provinces and territories. This trend coincided with a decline in annual capital expenditures in eight provinces and territories. At the national level, capital expenditures decreased 1.1% to $4.0 billion in 2017/2018.

Debt charges on school capital expenditures include the interest on loans and advances, bonds, debentures and mortgages, and other debt charges such as bank service charges and other charges pertaining to the servicing of the public debt.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Public elementary and secondary school board capital expenditures and debt charges on capital, Canada
Public elementary and secondary school board capital expenditures and debt charges on capital, Canada

Total educator salaries and benefits increase for fourth consecutive year

Educator salaries and benefits accounted for two-thirds (67.0%, or $29.5 billion) of the total operating expenses of public elementary and secondary schools in 2017/2018, up 1.8% from the previous school year (see note to readers). This was the fourth consecutive annual increase in educator salaries and benefits, partly attributable to the 1.5% growth in the number of educators since 2016/2017. After adjustments for inflation, the annual statutory salaries of public teachers actually declined by 0.4% in 2017/2018. Although annual statutory salaries of public teachers were down in six provinces, total expenditures for educator salaries increased in nine provinces and territories.

Public school expenditures as a percentage of gross domestic product remain constant

Expenditures in Canadian public schools were similarly matched by growth in the Canadian economy in 2017/2018. Canadian public school resources devoted to education represented 3.0% of gross domestic product (GDP), the same level as in 2016/2017. Public school expenditures, as a percentage of provincial or territorial GDP, ranged from 2.3% in British Columbia to 4.4% in Yukon.

New interactive tool

To further explore financial statistics for public elementary and secondary school boards in a visual format, visit "Public Elementary and Secondary Education Financial Statistics: Interactive tool." This tool allows you to filter, highlight and select various provincial and territorial aggregations to create custom measures, charts and graphics.

  Note to readers

Data are from the Survey of Uniform Financial System – School Boards. The objective of this annual survey is to collect financial information on school boards and districts across Canada. These financial statistics are collected from every province and territory—with the exception of Nunavut, where data are estimated—and are converted into a standard classification. Data for this survey are not available at the school board and district level.

Educator salaries and benefits include the total wages and benefits paid to personnel who are directly involved in providing kindergarten, elementary and secondary courses. These personnel include full-time and part-time teachers, principals, vice-principals, supply teachers and student assistants. Also included in the benefit expenditures are costs related to employer contributions to teachers' pension plans, which are partially or entirely paid by school boards and districts in seven provinces and territories, and by governments in the other provinces and territories.

Employer contributions to teachers' pension plans are partially or entirely paid by school boards and districts in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.

Student enrolment figures and educator trends are from the Elementary–Secondary Education Survey. Annual statutory teachers' salaries are from Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective.

All dollar figures are adjusted for inflation unless otherwise specified. Gross domestic product numbers are based on expenditures, measured at market prices and adjusted for inflation.

Debt charges include only the interest portion of repayment made by the schools.

Caution should be taken when comparing provinces directly since they have different funding formulas and structures.

Contact information

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