First Nation Education Transformation Policy Proposal

In 2017, the AFN National Indian Education Council (NIEC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) co-developed the First Nation Education Transformation policy proposal.  This resulted in a new funding approach to support First Nations K-12 education.  The new approach to funding replaces ISC’s outdated funding methodology, which included an antiquated formula supplemented by several proposal-based programs, with a more comprehensive funding model..  The funding formula portion of the new model is based on mainstream provincial education funding models to move First Nations education funding towards provincial comparability.

Click here for the Policy Proposal 

Interim Funding Approach

Implementation of the new funding model for First Nation education occurred April 2019 and is considered an Interim Funding Approach (IFA). In Ontario, the IFA is based on the Ontario Grants for Student Needs (GSN) with enhancements for language and culture, full day kindergarten and before and after school programming.  The IFA will apply until First Nations negotiate and conclude Regional Education Agreements, or other types of arrangements with the federal government.

The GSN is used by the province of Ontario to provide funding to school boards, which supports education in the provincial setting.  The GSN is a series of grants based on the demographic and geographic environment in which services are delivered to students. It responds to variable cost factors such as school size, remoteness, language and culture, socio-economic status, and incidence rates for vulnerable students and students with special needs.  The GSN is adjusted annually responding to provincial budget announcements and new regulations.  These adjustments are applied annually to the IFA as well.

The IFA determines allocations for First Nations education based on an approximation of how much funding First Nations would receive if the provincial formula was applied to on-reserve education.  The IFA is not prescriptive; First Nations create budgets around their community’s education priorities and the funding generated by the formula.

For more information on the provincial GSN:

20-21 GSN Technical Paper:  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/funding/2021/2020-21-technical-paper.pdf

For information on how the GSN is used to calculate the IFA:

Click here for the  Funding Overview 

Ontario Technical Table – Interim Funding Approach (OTTIFA)

There are some challenges with the IFA as the GSN was designed to allocate funding to school boards not individual schools and provincial comparability standards are inadequate to achieve substantive equality and improved outcomes for our learners. However, it enables a starting point to inform discussions with respect to what specific enhancements and adaptations are required to address the unique context and specific needs of First Nations schools and students.

To support this process, COO Resolution 51-18 mandates the Ontario Technical Table on the Interim Funding Approach (OTTIFA) to examine the components of the IFA and provide recommendations for enhancements and adaptations to better meet the needs of First Nation learners, schools and communities.  OTTIFA is a bilateral commitment to collaborative work between First Nations in Ontario and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

OTTIFA Task Teams

To fulfill the mandate, OTTIFA determines annual priority areas and establishes Task Teams to address a specific priority area.  The Task Teams consist of community subject matter experts, OTTIFA members and ISC staff.  Task Teams meet to examine their area of focus and provide recommendations to OTTIFA for an enhancement or adaptation to meet the unique needs of our communities.

Current Task Teams are working to address the following priority areas:

  • Special Education
  • Achievement Gap
  • Transportation
  • Students over 21
  • Small Schools
  • Funding Protection
  • Provincial Student Supports

Click here for the  OTTIFA ToR 2024

Regional Education Agreements (REA)

The 2017 co-developed First Nation Education Transformation policy proposal indicates that First Nation’s education funding will be under the IFA until a Regional Education Agreement (REA) is in place.  REA’s are a mechanism to allow First Nations or a group of First Nations the opportunity to develop their own K-12 education system.  Through this process First Nations would design an education system that addresses the education goals and priorities of the community (or group of communities) and establish education service providers to support their students.  The IFA would provide the funding base for a REA and additional funding asks would be negotiated with ISC.

Where a First Nation chooses to enter into REA negotiations, ISC mandates that a REA address the following 4 pillars:

  • comprehensive funding arrangements, covering all federal support for First Nations elementary and secondary education, including special education and education supports for languages
  • clear and defined roles and responsibilities of the parties to the REA, including applicable service standards, as determined by First Nations
  • mutual accountabilities mechanisms with clear objectives, performance indicators, and reporting expectations for both the Government of Canada and First Nations education system participants
  • First Nations will give direction to outline processes of working with ministries of education to ensure quality education is provided to First Nations students attending provincial, private or territorial schools

For more information on K-12 Education – Education Transformation, please contact Angel Maracle angel.maracle@coo.org