Conference Board of Canada report provides an economic argument for investing in education

A new report produced by the Conference Board of Canada provides solid evidence that provincial cuts to public education are not consistent with good fiscal policy.

The report, commissioned by OSSTF/FEESO and entitled The Economic Case for Investing in Education, examines the impact of public education on the economy in Ontario. It was released June 19 at an Empire Club of Canada luncheon. The luncheon featured a moderated discussion with OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof and Pedro Antunes, Chief Economist at the Conference Board of Canada.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Each dollar invested in public education generates $1.30 in total economic impacts to Ontario. At the same time, the inverse holds true for each dollar taken from public education.
  • Public education can generate social benefits, such as a healthier population, a higher standard of living, and a reduction in crime. That lessens demand for Ontario’s social assistance, public health care, and criminal justice services.
  • Through increased investment in public education, Ontario could lift its high school graduation rates to 90.0 per cent, matching the highest in the country and seeing average fiscal savings of $16.4 million per year. That could accrue to total savings of $3.5 billion over the course of two decades.
  • In a reverse scenario, where high school graduation rates instead fall to 82.6 per cent, Ontario would spend an additional $18.0 million each year. Over a 20-year period, that could amount to total fiscal costs of $3.8 billion.
  • Each additional high school graduate saves the Ontario government (on average) $2,767 each year on social assistance, health care, and criminal justice, while each additional high school non-completer costs the province $3,128 each year.

In a statement released to the news media, President Bischof said, “These findings are a clear indication that investment in public education benefits all of us by bolstering the economy and potentially reducing the costs of other programs and services. It’s also clear that the damage done when education is cut extends far beyond the school system and the students who rely on it. We have always taken the position that public education is an investment in Ontario’s future, and this research provides solid evidence that this is true. In light of this evidence, we will be urging the Ford government to look closely at this report, and to seriously reconsider the cuts it has planned for education in Ontario.”

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