Grants for Student Needs
Education in Ontario is funded through the Grants for Student Needs (GSN). The Ministry of Education provides the bulk of operating funding to Ontario’s 72 district school boards through the annual GSN, also known as “the funding formula.” The GSN is actually a collection of grants described in detail in a regulation under the Education Act each year. The GSN supports funding for the classroom, school leadership and operations, specific student-related priorities and local management by school boards. The GSN’s purpose is to help the system achieve key goals in the publicly funded education system.
The Indigenous Education Grant of the GSN, formerly the First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Supplement, supports programs designed for Indigenous students, as outlined in the Ontario First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework. It is made up of four allocations: the Indigenous Languages allocation, Indigenous Studies allocation, the Per-Pupil Amount and the Board Action Plans allocation.
The Ministry of Education, school boards and other stakeholders in publicly funded education are working together to align funding for school boards with the aims of Achieving Excellence, Ontario’s renewed vision for education. The annual engagement of the GSN and other collaborations are invaluable in holding all parties, including the government, accountable for the ways education is funded. GSN engagements occur during the fall, with the funding figures releasing the following spring.
The Ontario Budget
The government's financial cycle begins by early April and ends March 31. It begins with the release of the budget, and ends with pre-budget consultations, which inform the next year's budget.
The Budget is introduced in the Legislature by the government. It reflects key government priorities and choices about where to spend money and takes into account concerns raised in pre-budget consultations. The Budget is voted on by all parties in the Ontario Legislature.
Pre-Budget consultations usually begin in late fall or early winter leading up to the next year's Budget. The Minister of Finance hosts pre-budget consultations across the province in the upcoming year. Budget Talks is the Ministry of Finance’s online pre-budget consultation tool. It is a public forum for people to submit their ideas and discuss others’.
Legislation and policy development/change
Before bills become a law, they must pass through stages prescribed by the Ontario Legislature in order to become Ontario law. The Ontario legislature meets throughout the year. The stages include:
- Idea/ Pre-legislative stages
- First Reading – purpose of the bill is explained
- Second Reading – bill is debated in principle
- Review by Committee – Public hearings may be held and amendments considered
- Report to the House – Committee reports bill with any amendments
- Third Reading – bill is voted on for final approval
- Royal Assent – Lieutenant Governor signs bill and it becomes law.
The process by which ideas or proposals are put on the government’s agenda and turned into legislative proposals is complicated. The pre-legislative process provides many opportunities for a proposal to be rejected, to be significantly amended, or be ranked too low a priority to continue. Cabinet decides if a legislative proposal becomes a bill. The time a bill takes to go from the pre-legislative stages to Royal Assent varies.
Policy proposals may not require changes in legislation or regulation. Policy proposals would generally still need to go through the pre-legislative stages and gain Cabinet approval before the policy can be implemented.
Process for cabinet decisions (legislative, policy)
Ministries develop Cabinet submissions for Cabinet to review in order to get formal government approval and direction on a policy initiative or to report back on outstanding policy and delivery items. A lot of research and analysis goes into a Cabinet submission. Policy staff collaborate with legal, finance, communications and other partners to develop the policy. Before reaching Cabinet, the proposal makes its way through the various Policy Committees. Because of the time it takes to conduct the research and analysis, prepare the proposal and meet with the committees, the time it takes for a policy proposal to reach Cabinet can vary.
Timing-cycles for COO related to lifelong learning involve the following components:
- FNECU – meets quarterly
- CCOLL – meets as required
- Political Confederacy – meets monthly
- COO Chiefs in Assembly – meets in June and November
- AFN Chiefs in Assembly – meets in July and December
The collective decision-making at COO is subject to the engagement, decision-making processes and timing cycles of the PTOs, IFN and unaffiliated First Nations.
As indicated in the section on “Engagement” the timing may vary depending on positions adopted by the Chiefs in Assembly and the mandates provided to the FNECU and the CCOLL.
Approval for communication from the Regional Chief (briefing note, memorandum, letters, etc.) is conducted on a weekly basis. Submission is required on Monday and approval is generally provided by Friday – pending any complications.