Ontario Takes Action to Improve Access to Education for First Nation Students

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education

Reciprocal Education Approach (REA) Increases Parental Choice and Cuts Red Tape

NIPISSING FIRST NATION, NORTH BAY — Today, Ontario announced a historic step forward for First Nation students by removing barriers to quality education.

Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, were joined by Catherine Pawis, Chair of the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body, at their office at Nipissing First Nation to announce the creation of a transparent process that will allow all First Nation students to seamlessly access educational pursuits without delay, which will come into effect September 1, 2019.

Minister Lecce announced the new Reciprocal Education Approach (REA) to ensure eligible First Nation students and their families are supported by a consistent and transparent process when they choose to study at a publicly funded school or a First Nation-operated school.

“I am fully committed to creating a seamless and successful learning experience for First Nation students to enable both graduation and access to good-paying jobs,” said Lecce. “The actions we are taking will reduce barriers for First Nation students and their parents, and ultimately provide more seamless educational pathways that will encourage First Nation students to continue higher learning.”

The REA is the result of collaboration between Ontario First Nation partners, school board associations and the Ministry of Education. The REA framework was developed in collaboration with these partners to help meet the unique needs of First Nation students, particularly those from Northern and remote communities.

Under the previous approach, formal agreements on base fees were required for First Nation students wishing to attend a provincially funded school or First Nation-operated school. Negotiating these agreements often meant delays for students and their families.

Facing a lower graduation rate for First Nation students, the government acted swiftly to cut red tape for First Nations and school boards. Under this new approach, there is no longer a requirement to negotiate formal agreements for the base fee for students attending a provincially funded school or First Nation-operated school.

“No matter where in Ontario an Indigenous student lives, they should be able to choose a school where they can thrive. Our government is proud to support the REA as a part of our commitment to put people first and support lasting prosperity for Indigenous communities,” said Rickford.

This year, Ontario announced a new vision to modernize learning, improve classrooms and empower educators to better prepare students for the realities of today’s modern world. Reducing barriers to quality education for First Nation learners supports the government’s vision for an education system that works for students and families.

Quick Facts

  • As part of the REA, Ontario is ensuring that students attending a school of a provincially funded board can continue to be represented by a First Nation trustee.
  • More than $80 million is projected to be invested in Indigenous education as part of the 2019-20 Grants for Student Needs, part of the highest provincial investment in First Nations education.
  • Ontario is also investing more than $21 million in Indigenous education programs for the next school year as part of the new Priorities and Partnerships Fund. These programs will support student performance and well-being, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Ontario recently released a revised First Nation, Métis and Inuit studies curriculum for students in grades 9–12.

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