Health Status of Canadians 2016: Report of the Chief Public Health Officer - What is influencing our health? - Education

What is influencing our health?

Education

In 2014, just under 18 million or 90% of Canadians between the ages of 25 to 64 years had completed high school.Footnote 1 Just under 13 million or 66% had graduated with a postsecondary certificate or university degree (see Figure 1)Footnote 1.

Figure 1: 90% of Canadians completed high school and 66% graduated with a postsecondary certificate or university degree.Footnote 1

A higher level of education is linked to better health through a variety of factors such as higher income and better health literacy.Footnote 2-7

Did you know?

In Canada, the ability to read and do math has been getting worse over time.Footnote 11,Footnote 12 In 2012, almost 50% of Canadians aged 25 to 65 years had low scores for literacy skills, 55% had low scores for numeracy skills and 43% had low scores for both.Footnote 13

Over time

The proportion of Canadians aged 25 to 64 years who graduated from high school has been increasing in Canada.Footnote 1

  • 69% in 1990.
  • 90% in 2014.

By income

In 2011, 50% of Canadians in the top 10% income level and 20% of those below that income level had a university degree (see Figure 2)Footnote 8.

Figure 2: Level of education completed by income (highest level achieved), 2011Footnote 8
Figure 2
Text Equivalent

Bar chart showing the percent of population who completed a university degree, a postsecondary certificate or diploma below a bachelor level, a high school diploma or no certificate, diploma or degree by income in 2011.

Top 10% income level

  • University degree: 50.3%
  • Postsecondary certificate or diploma below a bachelor level: 33.4%
  • High school diploma: 12.5%
  • No certificate, diploma or degree: 3.9%

Bottom 90% income level

  • University degree: 17.6%
  • Postsecondary certificate or diploma below a bachelor level: 33.5%
  • High school diploma: 27%
  • No certificate, diploma or degree: 21.9%

By sex

The proportion of Canadians graduating from a post-secondary institution has increased for both men and women.Footnote 1

Percent of Canadian men and women who completed a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, 1990 and 2014Footnote 1
  1990 2014
Men 39% 60%
Women 33% 60%

Indigenous populations

Data on education in Indigenous populations are not directly comparable to the data described above. Comparable data show Inuit are least likely to have graduated from high school or completed a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree.Footnote 9

Percent of Canadians who completed high school or graduated with a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, 2011Footnote 9
  Graduated from high school (or equivalent) Completed a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree
First Nations 67% 45%
Métis 79% 55%
Inuit 52% 36%
Non-Indigenous 88% 65%

International comparison

In 2012, 89% of Canadians completed high school, which is the same proportion as in the United States. This is the second highest among G7 countries, after Japan, where the proportion of people completing high school was 94% (see Figure 3)Footnote 10.

Figure 3: Percent of people who graduated from high school in G7 countries, 2012Footnote 10
Figure 3
Text Equivalent

Bar graph showing percent of people who graduated from high school in G7 countries in 2012.

  • Canada = 89.1%
  • United States = 89.3%
  • United Kingdom = 78.1%
  • France = 72.5%
  • Germany = 86.3%
  • Italy = 57.2%
  • Japan = 93.7%

Notes to the reader

  • High school graduates include people who have received a high school diploma or, in Quebec, completed Secondary V or, in Newfoundland and Labrador, completed fourth year of secondary.Footnote 1
  • Post-secondary graduates include people who have completed, at minimum, a certificate (including a trade certificate) or diploma from an educational institution beyond the secondary level. This includes certificates from vocational schools, apprenticeship training, community college, Collège d'Enseignement Général et Professionnel (CEGEP), and schools of nursing. Also included are certificates below a bachelor's degree obtained at a university.Footnote 1
  • Indigenous populations consist of First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
  • For international comparisons, educational attainment represents the number of adults aged 25 to 64 holding at least an upper secondary degree over the population of the same age, as defined by the OECD-ISCED classification.Footnote 10
  • G7 countries include seven of the world's industrialized countries, namely the United States, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada, that form an informal discussion group and economic partnership.

For more information on education, please see:

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: