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Trends in the use of private education1987/88 to 1998/99
Children from both ends of the income distribution attend private schools; 29% of children who attend private schools are from families with incomes below $50,000, while 26% are from families with at least twice as much income.
In contrast, about 43% of children (15 years of age or younger) attending public schools had family incomes of less than $50,000, and only 12% had family incomes over $100,000. The proportion of children who come from households with an annual income of $50,000 to $100,000 was about the same in the case of both private and public schools, 45%. (In 1998, one-half of all children were from families with incomes less than $55,000.)
In Ontario, about 37% of all children attending private schools come from households with incomes of $100,000 or more, the highest proportion of any province. This is more than twice the percentage of children (16%) who attend public schools from this income group. Twenty-one percent of private school students come from families with less than $50,000 in income, while 37% of public school students are from this group.
In 1998/99, 1 out of every 18 children in Canada, or 5.6%, attended a private school for elementary or secondary education. In total, 298,000 were enrolled in private schools; just under 5 million went to public schools.
Private schools spent nearly $2 billion on education in the 1997/98 academic year, the most recent data available. This represented 5.5% of total elementary and secondary spending on education, public and private included.
Proportion of students enrolled in private schools on the rise
In 1998/99, 5.6% of all children in elementary and secondary schools in Canada were enrolled in private schools, up from 4.6% in 1987/88.
Among the provinces, the proportions were highest in Quebec, where more than 9.2% of children were enrolled in a private elementary or secondary school in 1998/99. In British Columbia, 8.8% of all students were in private schools.
The lowest proportions of children in private schools were in the Atlantic provinces and Saskatchewan. Only 0.4% of all children in Newfoundland, 0.6% in New Brunswick, 1.0% in Prince Edward Island, 1.6% in Nova Scotia and 1.3% in Saskatchewan were enrolled in private schools.
Most provinces saw steady growth in the proportion of students enrolled in private schools between 1987/88 and 1998/99. However, the proportion declined slightly in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan during this 12-year period.
Spending per student
Spending for each student has varied widely from province to province for both private elementary and secondary schools and public schools.
For every $100 spent on each student by public school boards in 1987/88, private schools spent $88 per student for elementary and secondary education.
By 1997/98, spending per student by private schools was about the same as in public schools. For every $100 spent on each student by public school boards, private schools spent $101.
During most of this 11-year period, private elementary and secondary schools in Saskatchewan and Ontario spent more per student than did their public counterparts. In Saskatchewan in 1997/98, private schools were spending almost twice as much per student as public school boards.
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Garth Lipps (613-941-6381) or Miles Corak (613-951-9047), Family and Labour Studies Division.
Percentage of students enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools
Enrolment in private and public elementary and secondary schools