Government of Canada and Assembly of First Nations announce new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education on reserve

News release

A new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education

January, 21, 2019 – Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON  – Indigenous Services Canada

New approach takes effect April 1, 2019, supports First Nations control of First Nations education, and ensures more predictable and sufficient funding.

First Nations students on-reserve deserve a high quality education with financial investments that meet their unique needs, including supports for language and culture to ensure they get the best start in life.

Today, the Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, and National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), announced a new co-developed policy and improved funding approach that will better support the needs of First Nations students on-reserve.

As of April 1, 2019, the new funding approach will:

  • replace outdated proposal-based programs with improved access to predictable core funding;
  • ensure base funding is comparable to provincial systems across the country while working towards additional funding agreements based on need to better account for factors such as remoteness, school size, language, and socio-economic conditions;
  • provide First Nations schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming;
  • provide new resources which will support full-time kindergarten in every First Nations school for children aged four and five; and
  • ensure special education funding is more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements.

Following extensive engagements in 2016 and 2017, this new co-developed funding approach to K-12 education responds to First Nations advocacy to better meet the needs of students, improve education outcomes and strengthen First Nations control of First Nations education.

Indigenous Services Canada is currently working with First Nations across the country to implement the new formula-based regional funding models, and will be publishing more detailed information on the Government of Canada's website in the coming months.

Ultimately, this new approach is an important step toward the creation of new Treaty-based, regional and/or local education agreements that put First Nations in control of First Nations education, and will better meet the needs of students.


"Every First Nations child deserves the best start in life with a high quality and culturally relevant education that meets their needs. Today's announcement of a new, co-developed policy and funding approach for on-reserve education replaces an outdated system and ensures predictability. This new approach will allow First Nations to be in the driver's seat – ensuring that they are in control of First Nations education."

The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services

"Today we are another step closer to the long-standing goal of First Nations control of First Nations education. This new approach means First Nations have the ability to implement their own models of education. It means a shift from proposal-based funding toward predictable and sustained funding so First Nations can plan and build quality education systems that reflect their needs and their vision of holistic, lifelong learning. This is a significant step toward closing the gap in education outcomes for First Nations children and students."

National Chief Perry Bellegarde
Assembly of First Nations

"Lifelong learning and a greater quality of life starts with quality education. This new approach is an important step toward First Nations taking greater control of planning and delivering education based on real need. Fair and sustained funding for First Nations children and students, including languages and cultures, will lead to better outcomes for everyone. This is a strong step, but there is a lot more to do to create equity in First Nations education and communities. As the largest growing demographic in the country, investing in First Nations students and young people is investing in Canada's future."

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald
Assembly of First Nations, Portfolio Lead on Education

Quick facts

  • Budget 2016 included an additional $2.6 billion over five years for elementary and secondary education. Since then, total funding for education on-reserve has increased by more than 30%, and will continue to increase through 2020-2021.

  • The new formula-based core funding model for elementary and secondary education will be data-driven and responsive to student population growth and education cost pressures.

  • The new formula-based funding methodology will be more understandable for recipients and informed by ongoing technical discussions.

  • With the new approach, two proposal-based funding streams, representing $360 million, will be rolled into core funding, reducing the administrative burden.

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For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Seamus O'Regan
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-314-8157 mobile

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