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Enrolment in Canadian public elementary and secondary schools has dropped slightly since 1999/2000. Just over 5.2 million children were enrolled in public schools in the academic year 2005/2006, a decrease of 3% from 1999/2000.

Alberta was the only province that bucked this overall trend of declining enrolments, recording an increase between 1999/2000 and 2005/2006. There were a total of 552,000 enrolments in Alberta in 2005/2006, up 1% from 1999/2000.

Chart 1
Percent change in enrolments (headcounts) between 1999/2000 to 2005/2006, Canada, provinces and territories

All other provinces and territories have reported a drop in elementary/secondary school enrolment. The largest decline in student enrolment occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador where the number of students has fallen 18.4% since 1999/2000 (Chart 1 and Table A.1). This is consistent with population estimates data which show that the school-age population in Newfoundland and Labrador declined 17.7% over this time period (Table A.28). This decrease is due in large part to continued migration to other parts of Canada.

The number of students declined in all other provinces and territories, ranging from a drop of 10.1% in Nova Scotia to 0.6% in Ontario. The decline in enrolments across the country can be attributed to an aging population, as the children of the baby boomers are now starting their post-secondary education, contributing to the increased post-secondary enrolment which has been observed in recent years.

There were slightly more males than females enrolled in Canadian public schools in 2005/2006, with 51.5% of enrolments consisting of males. This ratio was generally constant over the 1999/2000 to 2005/2006 time period, across all provinces and territories in Canada, and is also consistent with population estimates of the school-age population.