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Updated March 2019

How does education in BC compare to the rest of Canada?

Despite recent increases, British Columbia still spends close to $1,900 less per student than the Canadian average.1

In 2000–01, BC spent significantly more than the national average on K12 education funding per student. From 2001–02, cuts to public education funding reversed that trend. As of 2015–16, BC’s K–12 per-student spending remains $1,866 less than the national average.

9graph1

Source: Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0066-01 Public and private elementary and secondary education expenditures (x 1,000); (2019). Table 37-10-0007-01 Number of students in regular programs for youth, public elementary and secondary schools, by grade and sex. Value rounded to nearest dollar.

While average national spending on public education as a percent of GDP remains roughly constant, BC's spending has declined.2

The Canadian average spending on public education as a percent of GDP has remained roughly 3.3% to 3.5%. BC’s spending on public education declined from 3.7% of GDP in 2001–02 to just 2.7% of GDP in 2015–16.

9graph2

Source: Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0066-01 Public and private elementary and secondary education expenditures (x 1,000); (2019). Table 36-10-0222-01 Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, provincial and territorial, annual (x 1,000,000.) Values are rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent

One of the outcomes of inadequate funding is a heavier workload for BC's public-school teachers with larger ratios of students to educators.3

Educators in BC are responsible for more children on average than educators in the rest of Canada. The gap has widened in the past 15 years from 1.5 students in 2002–03 to 3.4 students in 2016–17.

9graph3

Source: Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0007-01 Number of students in regular programs for youth, public elementary and secondary schools, by grade; (2019). Table  37-10-0010-01 Number of full-time and part-time educators, public elementary and secondary schools, by age group. Values are rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent.

BC students do as well as the average student in Canada.4

Despite these higher student-to-teacher ratios, BC students graduate at roughly the Canadian average thanks to BC’s hardworking, highly qualified teachers.

9graph4

Source: Statistics Canada. (2019). Education indicators in Canada: An international perspective, 2018. Statistics for Nova Scotia is not available.


1 Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0066-01 Public and private elementary and secondary education expenditures (x 1,000).
Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0007-01 Number of students in regular programs for youth, public elementary and secondary schools, by grade and sex.

2 Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0066-01 Public and private elementary and secondary education expenditures (x 1,000).
Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 36-10-0222-01 Gross domestic product, expenditure-based, provincial and territorial, annual (x 1,000,000.)

3 Statistics Canada. (2019). Table 37-10-0007-01 Number of students in regular programs for youth, public elementary and secondary schools, by grade. Statistics Canada. (2019). Table  37-10-0010-01 Number of full-time and part-time educators, public elementary and secondary schools, by age group.

4 Statistics Canada. (2019). Education indicators in Canada: An international perspective, 2018. Statistics for Nova Scotia is not available.

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