Canada Has Highest Proportion of its Working Age Population with College or University Training


Toronto, November 25, 2003 -- In 2000, Canada had the highest proportion among OECD countries of working age population with college or university credentials: 41% had either a college or university education, compared to 37% in the United States, 36% in Ireland, and 34% in Japan.  This was one of many pieces of information contained in a major report released today by education ministers and Statistics Canada.

Education Indicators in Canada: Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program 2003 is a comprehensive, data-based resource on the characteristics and functioning of education systems in the provinces and territories.  The 2003 report, the third edition published by the program, is available in its entirety and free of charge on the Internet (;, as well as in hard copy from Statistics Canada.

“This report represents a valuable contribution to education policy making,” said Dr. Paul Cappon, Director General of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.  “It brings together in one document a wealth of current information about our education systems.”

The report is a product of the Canadian Education Statistics Council (CESC), a partnership between Statistics Canada and the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

“The report is not only the result of a credible and productive working relationship between the two orders of government in the area of education,” stated  Dr. Ivan Fellegi, the Chief Statistician of Canada and co-chair of the Canadian Education Statistics Council, “it also provides high quality dependable data for making informed decisions about policy choices and program development.”

Some highlights from the report


  • Due to the recent drop in births, Canada can expect the population aged 5 to 13 to decline by an estimated 14% between 2001 and 2011.
  • Between 1997–98 and 2001–02, the combined public and private expenditures on education in Canada rose 6% in constant 2001 dollars. Most of the increase occurred at the postsecondary level.
  • Higher education is a gateway to higher earnings. According to the 2001 Census, more than 60% of people in the lowest earnings category did not have more than a high school education, while more than 60% of those in the top earnings category had a university degree.
  • In Canada, in 2000, there were on average 7 students per computer in a school, compared to the OECD average of 31 students. Other countries with favourable results were the United States and Australia (6 students per computer) and the United Kingdom (8 students).


However, the percentage of students in Canada who used computers at school on a frequent basis (39%) was only slightly higher than the average across OECD countries (38%), with higher percentages in Australia (50%) and Sweden (45%).

CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects in areas of mutual interest and concern.

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Rita Ceolin, CMEC
Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 251