Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples

Issue 5 - Evidence - Meeting of April 28, 2010


OTTAWA, Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 6:47 p.m. to examine the federal government's constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, and other matters generally relating to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada (topic: issues concerning First Nations education).

Senator Gerry St. Germain (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: I would like to welcome all honourable senators, members of the public and all viewers across the country who are watching these proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, either on CPAC or possibly on the web.

I am Senator Gerry St. Germain from British Columbia and I have the honour of chairing this committee. The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation and matters relating to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada generally. This gives the committee a broad scope to look into issues of all types that touch on matters of concern to First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

The committee is undertaking a study of primary and secondary education of First Nations children living on-reserve. To gain some further knowledge of this subject, the committee has invited witnesses from two government departments: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, INAC, and Statistics Canada. We have asked them to paint for us the statistical portrait of the issue. The gap in education attainment levels has been well documented and there is evidence that the gap may be widening. Data from the 2006 Census shows that the high school completion rate for First Nations living on-reserve has remained at 40 per cent since 1996. We look forward to deepening our understanding of this and other relevant statistics through an exchange with tonight's witnesses.

Welcome, colleagues and members of the committee. Please help me in welcoming our witnesses. From INAC we have Eric Guimond, Acting Director, Research and Analysis Directorate; and Kathleen Keenan, Director General, Education Branch. From Statistics Canada, we have Jane Badets, Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division; and Evelyne Bougie, Analyst, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division.

I would think that you might have a presentation. I do not want to be presumptuous, but, if you do have one, we welcome hearing your presentation. The senators will most likely have questions of you after your presentation, but we will go through both presentations first, and then we will deal with questions. Are we in agreement with that?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: If everyone is in agreement, then please proceed, Mr. Guimond.

Eric Guimond, Acting Director, Research and Analysis Directorate, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada: It is a pleasure to be back before this committee. We appreciate the opportunity to talk about First Nation education statistics. I will cover census statistics. A deck was distributed to you to facilitate the discussion.

The choice of terminology in the deck to describe Aboriginal groups or other elements of the data is a reflection of the data source used. I chose the terminology to facilitate the work for someone who wishes to pursue the work presented here and to go back to the data. It might be more difficult to do so if I start playing with the terminology.

The deck that I will be speaking about this evening is fairly short. Slides 3 to 5 present a definition of the population according to census statistics that we use at INAC. The definition breaks down the Indian population into four Aboriginal groups: registered Indian, non-status Indian, Metis and Inuit. We refer to this definition as a blended definition because it groups three concepts measured by the census: Indian registration; Aboriginal identity — self-identity; and band membership.

Slide 4 serves as a reminder and provides context. It is important to remind ourselves that when we are looking at education statistics, we are talking about 50 per cent of the population. Roughly 50 per cent of the population was under the age of 25 in 2006. It is also important to remember that this population is young but is growing extremely fast. When looking at projections for the period 2006-26, judging by the growth rates on page 5, it is obvious that the Aboriginal groups are growing much faster than the Canadian population as a whole — two to three times faster on an annual basis. In 2026 the Aboriginal population, because of its higher fertility relative to the Canadian population, will remain a fairly young population.

I will not spend too much time on the slide found at page 6 because the general level of educational attainment of Aboriginal groups, in particular on-reserve, was already pointed out. About 40 per cent of the adult registered-Indian population on reserves have a high school diploma or higher level of certification. The level is similar for the Inuit population and somewhat higher for non-status Indians, off-reserve registered Indians and Metis, but all of them show lower levels of educational attainment compared to the non-Aboriginal population, which is around 77 per cent in 2006 for a high school diploma or higher education. Under "university degree" or "other post-secondary education," as you move up the education continuum those proportions are lower for all groups. However, the gap between the Aboriginal group and the non-Aboriginal population is always maintained.

These general statistics are of limited use when it comes time to monitor the current educational attainment among Aboriginal youth and young adults because they include all age groups, that is, the population 15 years old and older. It is important to focus on a particular cohort, which I will do for the rest of the presentation. I have selected the 25 to 34 age group to illustrate some of the educational attainment levels and trends from the census data.

Page 7 contains present data on the population that has no education. It is somewhat unusual to do this. When you browse through the literature that is available, people usually focus on high school attainment, post-secondary attainment and university attainment; it is not often that this information is presented relative to no certification at all. In this particular slide, that is exactly what is represented. This is the young adult population for the different Aboriginal groups and the registered Indians, broken down to those on and off reserve in 2006, with no certificate, diploma or degree. You will notice on the slide that among the registered Indians on-reserve and in the population in 2004-06, half have no formal education certificate in 2006. For the population of other Canadians, it is one in 10 for the same indicator.

I will turn now to the more conventional set of indicators, high school education or higher. On slide 8, for the group 25 to 34 years old, there is a comparison of the proportion with high school education or higher for registered Indians and other Canadians. This proportion has been rising for both populations since 1981. There has been a steady improvement for the registered Indian young adults since 1996. Although there has been a significant improvement from census to census, the gap between the two populations has not shrunk one bit during that period.

Slide 9 still focuses on young adults aged 25 to 34, but it is now looking specifically at university degrees at the bachelor level or higher. Here again there has been improvement for the registered Indian population — much less in comparison to the previous slide, but still an improvement from 1981 to 2006. The difference with respect to the previous slide is that the other-Canadians population saw a significant improvement in the proportion of its population of young adults with a university degree. As a result, the gap has increased pretty much every census and is now more than twice what it was in 1981.

Our focus on slide 10 is on gender disparities. You must have heard throughout the different presentations and discussions you have had on this topic that there are differences between men and women in the registered Indian population. We see similar differences for the general population, although the differences are much larger for the registered Indians. Registered Indian women do much better when it comes to education performance, especially when you look at a university degree.

At the other end of the spectrum, again I bring your attention to those without any certification, and you will notice quite rapidly that the registered Indian men are doing quite poorly in terms of educational performance compared to the women.

Slide 11 is a classic when looking at the economic data for Aboriginal groups and at the regional variation. As is the case for most socio-economic indicators, looking at high school certification by region, the registered Indian populations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan ranked the lowest. The highest proportions are found for the registered Indian populations in the Atlantic region and Ontario. The Aboriginal populations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan form the greatest proportion of the entire population in 2006, which is 15 per cent. Roughly around one in six Manitobans has a fairly low level of education.

Slide 12 indicates, and most of us know this notionally, that the higher your education, the higher your employment rate. This is illustrated here for the registered Indian and total Canadian population using 2006 data. The employment rate for the young adult population age 25 to 34 is given for every general level of education or no education, in terms of no certificate, diploma or degree. You will notice as you move up the education scale or continuum that at the top, with a university degree, registered Indians and other Canadians had similar employment rates in 2006.

Last year I was invited to share some statistics about community well-being. We indicated that well-being for First Nation and Inuit communities was on the rise between 1981 and 2006 but that those improvements had pretty much tapered off for the last five years of this period. For those who might have forgotten, the Community Well-Being Index is a composite index that we developed at INAC with four components: education, labour force, income and housing. Each component has an equal weight in an overall score of well-being that runs from zero to 100.

By looking at community well-being scores over the course of the 1981 to 2006 period, I am able to see what the importance of education is in the overall improvement of well-being in First Nations communities. Forty-five per cent of the overall improvement in the community well-being score of First Nations is triggered by improvements in education.

Turning to the last slide, the Community Well-Being Index provides the opportunity to look at communities specifically in terms of well-being or of one of the components of well-being, which I did here. This slide represents the distribution of First Nations communities and other Canadian communities based on the proportion of the population 15 years and older with a high school certificate or higher.

The slide shows huge disparities across First Nations communities. We have First Nations communities with 10 per cent of their direct population obtaining high school or higher education while other Canadian communities have an adult population with a proportion of 80 per cent to 85 per cent with high school or higher education. The variation is huge across First Nations communities.

In the bottom 100 Canadian communities, in terms of education for communities with at least 250 people, 81 are First Nations; and no First Nations community is ranked in the top 100 communities in Canada in terms of educational attainment just with high school plus.

On that note, I will pass to Ms. Badets.

Jane Badets, Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada: I would like to thank the committee for inviting Statistics Canada here tonight to present data and information on Aboriginal peoples in Canada. I am here with my colleague Evelyne Bougie, who is a researcher with Statistics Canada and who has conducted research on the educational outcomes of Aboriginal people. I will present some of those results today.

My presentation will cover two parts. I was asked to provide an overview of the data we do have. I will briefly go through the census and the two surveys that we have: the Aboriginal Peoples Survey and the Aboriginal Children's Survey. Then I will present results from these data sources, and much of my presentation will complement what you heard from Mr. Guimond.

Slide 3 is information about the census. It is our most comprehensive source of data on Aboriginal people and provides a number of ways to define the Aboriginal population, including providing data on First Nations living on- and off-reserve, with or without registered status, Metis and Inuit.

Slide 4 gives background information about the Aboriginal Peoples Survey and the Aboriginal Children's Survey. I will highlight a couple of things about these data sources. First, they were designed with the advice of experts in the area of early childhood development of Aboriginal children. That is the case of the Aboriginal Children's Survey. Both were designed in partnership with national Aboriginal organizations as well as key departments such as Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, HRSDC. Both surveys collect information on a wide range of topics. The response rate for both surveys was quite high; it was about 80 per cent. That gives us confidence in the reliability of the data.

Slide 5 shows some of the information from the Aboriginal Children's Survey. This survey focuses on very young Aboriginal children under the age of six living off-reserve and in the North, so that gives you some sense of the data related to learning and education.

Slide 6 shows what learning and education data are available from the Aboriginal Peoples Survey for Aboriginal children and youth as well as Aboriginal people 15 years and older living in the North and off-reserve.

Now turning to some of the results on slide 7, we see the growth of the Aboriginal population over a number of censuses. This graph demonstrates that in 2006 1.2 million people reported having an Aboriginal identity — that is the pink line on the graph — compared with 1.7 million who reported an Aboriginal ancestry — and that is the long blue line. These increases in recent years have been due to demographic factors, for example higher birth rates, as well as non-demographic factors, for example increased numbers of people self-declaring as Aboriginal on the census.

Slide 8 shows the growth of the Aboriginal groups between 2001 and 2006, and you can see that the largest increase in population was for the Metis, growing by 33 per cent. The First Nations population with registered status grew by 12 per cent, as did Inuit. The First Nations population without registered status grew by 28 per cent. In comparison, the non-Aboriginal population during this time period increased by 5 per cent.

Slides 9 and 10 provide you with that profile from the 2006 Census on the educational attainment of Aboriginal people. I will not go into depth on that because you heard from Mr. Guimond on this, and he has provided an excellent overview of the trends.

I will add a few items we know, which are some results from the census and the Aboriginal Peoples Survey. We know there are different paths to education for First Nations women, relative to women overall. There is an indication that First Nations women tend to obtain college credentials later in life. For example, 16 per cent of First Nations women aged 25 to 29 in 2001 had college credentials, and by 2006 this had increased by 23 per cent.

We also know some information from the Aboriginal Peoples Survey about potential barriers to completing post-secondary education. The main reasons off-reserve First Nations women reported for not finishing their post-secondary studies were financial and obtaining a job or wanting to work. As for First Nations men living off-reserve, the main reason for not completing or continuing with their studies was job-related as well.

On slide 11, I will present a few results from the Aboriginal Children's Survey. It is important to look at the early childhood development of Aboriginal children to understand better the outcomes later in school. From this survey, we know that young Aboriginal children less than six years of age were more likely than non-Aboriginal children to have young parents, be part of a large family, be living in a lone-parent family or be living with grandparents.

Slide 12 gives a bit more information from this survey. What do we know about the learning and child care arrangements of off-reserve First Nations children? In 2006, 46 per cent of off-reserve First Nations children had participated in or attended First Nations, Metis or Inuit cultural activities such as singing, drum dancing and others. Of the 47 per cent of off-reserve First Nations children less than six years of age who were receiving regular child care, about one quarter were in child care arrangements that promoted traditional cultural values, and 15 per cent were in child care that used Aboriginal languages.

On slide 13, I will provide some results from the Aboriginal Peoples Survey, specifically research on the school experiences of off-reserve First Nations children and youth aged 6 to 14.

On slide 14, you can see that, overall, 43 per cent of off-reserve First Nations children and youth aged 6 to 14 had parents who rated their child as performing very well in school. An additional 27 per cent of children and youth had parents who rated them as performing well in school.

We looked at the factors associated with these perceived school achievements. The research showed that a positive school environment and social interaction with teachers and classmates, as well as participation in out-of-school activities, are associated with higher perceived levels of achievement for these children.

Finally, we looked at factors associated with lower perceived school achievement. They included absenteeism from school, having been diagnosed with a learning disability or attention deficit disorder, and family background of having parents who had attended residential school. These findings are similar to what one would find in the general population, based on the literature, with the exception of the residential school finding, which is unique to the Aboriginal population.

Slide 17 is a brief summary of some of those results. In conclusion, slides 18 and 19 provide additional information — a number of products we make available on our website where you can explore these topics in greater detail.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Badets.

Ms. Keenan, you are the director general of the education branch of INAC, is that correct?

Kathleen Keenan, Director General, Education Branch, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada: That is correct.

The Chair: The reason we have undertaken this study is that some of us have sat here for years — 15 years and longer, in some cases — and there has not been a marked improvement. This is substantiated by what the Auditor General said of the 28-year gap.

We are trying to come up with a recommendation or recommendations that would change the system so as to change the results. It is presumed — and maybe I am being presumptuous on this — that the system has to be changed. By that, I mean the infrastructure, the structure that governs education for First Nations children.

We are not here to point to funding or anything like this. These tripartite agreements, these memoranda of understanding that have been signed with the provinces are an indication that something else should be done. Perhaps you would like to comment on that to start this discussion?

This is a concern not only for us. Previous to this, I was a business person, and there are many businessmen and women looking for young people to be gainfully employed in their businesses. They look at the Aboriginal community with all these young people, and they are not able to hire them in many cases simply because they do not have the educational qualifications. Would you like to open with a comment on this?

Ms. Keenan: The most hopeful sign for seeing educational outcomes improve has to do with this kind of discussion, and this kind of discussion taking place across the country. It is a real phenomenon.

It is partly the demographic factor, but you are seeing more interest and concern on the part of people in the private sector, academics, provincial governments and, most important, within the First Nation leadership about educational outcomes. That is the foundational piece. If that is there, then there is hope that we will see much improvement.

You have a challenging task ahead, because I do not think there is one simple recommendation that will guarantee outcomes. It is a complex issue; it is complex within the schooling system and within the society in which that school is located. The school can account for something like 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the student outcomes, but everything going on in the community in which that school is situated will also have an impact on student outcomes.

The Chair: The provinces are responsible for all education other than for First Nations children. Should we be looking seriously at their becoming part of the equation for First Nations education, with the backup infrastructure and what have you that exist within the provincial school board systems across the country? Or should we be looking solely at the existing infrastructure and status that is there and work from that perspective?

Ms. Keenan: The nature of this challenge has to preoccupy leadership across the country. Provincial governments are increasingly seeing that. Among the Aboriginal population as a whole, the majority of students are now in provincial schools. Sixty per cent of First Nations students living on-reserve are in First Nations schools on-reserve, but 40 per cent of them attend provincial schools.

Clearly, the outcomes within the provincial schools are a matter of interest to everybody who is concerned about the future of Canada, particularly in areas where the population will be significant for the labour force over the longer term. Is it a matter of interest? Yes. Do the provincial governments have all the answers yet? They are working on it.

Senator Peterson: Thank you for your presentations. On the matter of infrastructure, the commentators have said that First Nations do not possess the necessary infrastructure on-reserve to deal with the educational problems. I think this chart on page 7 would verify that, would it not, when you look at registered Indians on-reserve and off-reserve? That would be a fact now, that the problem exists. Having statistics that show that should help us find a direction for what to do or what can be done.

Numerous Aboriginal leaders have indicated to us that the two major challenges for them are education and economic development. It seems to me that education would help lead to economic development, so you could focus on the education.

Last year, some First Nations students came to my office and indicated that in the last year, 10,000 to 12,000 Aboriginal students could not go on to post-secondary education because of funding. It was a funding issue. It appears the system is working at one level but not the next.

I was wondering whether that is a direction we can go in to try to find some way to improve this. We certainly have lots of statistics to show that First Nations will be the workforce in the next decade and that we have to solve this problem. I would appreciate any comments.

Mr. Guimond: Specifically on slide 7, it is difficult to associate school performance with census information, because census information is based on place of residence on the day of the census. It is not necessarily based on where you got your education. We know that young adult residents on-reserve and off-reserve have a certain level of educational attainment. Is it a factor to explain the observed level? Absolutely, yes. Is it the only one? I doubt it, because we have the mobility factor, and it is a known fact that the Aboriginal population is highly mobile, especially the adult population.

Senator Peterson: The statistics indicate what the problem is. If we do not want to address it, I guess we will not.

Senator Hubley: Thank you for your presentations. Mr. Guimond, referring to page 8 of your presentation, there seems to be a dramatic improvement for registered Indians from 1986, at 41 per cent, to 1991 at 51 per cent, even taking into account that there was a bit of a dip prior to that. That is 10 per cent, which I think is quite an improvement. Do you have any information to tell us what accounted for those 10 years and why there was such a dramatic improvement during that time?

Mr. Guimond: I have not measured those factors. Those are assumptions, but I think they are assumptions that my colleagues at work and at universities tend to agree with. For that particular period, there has been variation in the quality of participation of First Nations communities in the census. Participation in 1986 was much lower than in 1991. That is a possible factor introducing somewhat of an artefact in the statistics and the improvement.

The other element is Bill C-31, because most of the registration following Bill C-31 in 1985 was towards the later stages of the 1980s and the early 1990s. It is possible that the people who were reinstated had slightly higher levels of education, boosting the indicator upwards. Those would be my two explanations.

Senator Hubley: You have used generally the 25 to 34 year old category, so you are looking at what type of education has come from below the 25 years, and then you have your results here. Does the 25 to 34 year old category tell you anything about the learning process that Aboriginal children go through to get to that age with or without the educational skills that we would like them to have? In other words, do they learn at a later age, or do they learn more gradually? Is there a lack of programs or facilities? Does that impact on these numbers at all?

Mr. Guimond: We have that type of information about trends back at the office, although it is a bit too complex to present in a short presentation. When you follow a birth cohort, people born in the same year, from census to census, you will notice that First Nations individuals, young men and women, tend to acquire the level of education a little later in life than other Canadians. With that said, people implicitly think that, because it is later, they catch up. That is not really the case, because other Canadians also continue to improve their learning as they grow older. It is the continuous learning approach.

Senator Hubley: Yes, life-long learning.

Mr. Guimond: This new generation is applying that concept. It does not result in gap closure. As these birth cohorts age, yes, they improve their educational attainment, but they do not catch up. The difference is age, in terms of when they achieve a particular level, is detrimental to their employability.

Senator Hubley: Yes. I have a short question that touches on the Community Well-Being Index and the role that education plays in that. My information suggested that one First Nations community made the top 100 in the ranking of communities, and that was the Tsawwassen First Nation in British Columbia. More of our First Nations communities were in the bottom 100. Can you give us some indication as to the difference? What makes one community through education become successful and healthy and a good place for young people to grow up, and why are so many on the lower end of the scale?

Mr. Guimond: As my colleague mentioned earlier, there is a multitude of factors. I like to group them into three groups. There are individual factors, which my colleagues from Statistics Canada pointed out in their presentation, the family factors and the community factors.

The individual factors are often health-related. Family factors, such as the size of the family, the income of the family, the crowding in the dwelling, can also have an impact on educational attainment. Then we have the community itself, the infrastructures available and the commitment of the entire community towards youth and the education of youth. All those factors are present at the same time, as well as the school itself.

Senator Hubley: That is absolutely correct. We will be looking at these as we identify gaps within the educational system. We know it is not just education. It seems that one community has stepped forward and should be commended for the work it is doing. I am wondering whether anyone has looked at that particular community and said, "This is a success story and we should be looking at this."

Mr. Guimond: One of the purposes of the community well-being work is to identify the successful communities. We just made the 2006 Community Well-Being Index results available recently, and now we are sharing these results with the rest of our colleagues within the department and identifying communities with education and also with economic development.

Senator Hubley: Thank you for your answers.

Senator Sibbeston: I come from the Northwest Territories, so I am interested in whether you have information on this phenomenon. When I first became involved in politics in the North in 1970, I often asked government officials, many of them from Ottawa who came north, whether for government jobs they needed to have a formal education. Did one need a university degree in order to obtain these government jobs? At the time, many native people were still living on the land. Since the 1970s, there has been a movement from the bush or the land to communities to the point where most Aboriginal people now live in communities, and the education system, as it were, is firmly entrenched. People are becoming educated.

I have always wondered whether you have statistics on employment and grades. My contention was that many jobs and functions that existed did not require the high level of education that was insisted upon. For example, to be a janitor, you do not have to have grade 12. To work at the airport, or to run machines, you do not have to have grade 12. You just need to have common sense and to be a good driver. The government at the time was insisting that you had to have a degree. There were many impediments in the civil service preventing Aboriginal people from getting into the system.

Do you have any information with respect to this issue of jobs and the amount of education that it takes in order to get a job now in the North?

Ms. Badets: Not specifically. I cannot think of any at Statistics Canada other than that in the census we look at a snapshot of occupations, industry, and the level of education most people would have in those different geographical areas. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of other surveys that look at that.

Senator Sibbeston: I cannot help but think that this is a relevant issue. Senator Patterson represents Nunavut. The whole idea of Nunavut, a new territory in the northern part of Canada, was that Inuit wanted to be independent and to be masters in their own homeland. They have a government now. I think the belief and the hope was that Inuit would be able to work for the government. Therefore, is this happening? Are Inuit people, people in the North, getting jobs that are available? I cannot help but think that this would be a fascinating question.

In some respects, you probably pose the same questionnaire to everyone in Canada; there is no specific tailoring to the North, for example. You might not get the kind of information I am seeking, but that would be a fascinating question that you might consider doing some day in the future.

Ms. Badets: We sometimes tailor some of our surveys for the North. In fact, we did that for the Aboriginal Peoples Survey. I think we called it the Aboriginal Peoples Survey 2006 and Arctic Supplement.

Regarding what you were describing, you might want to talk to the territorial government itself. It might have those statistics.

Mr. Guimond: In the context of our community well-being research agenda, we will be using census data to look at the dynamics of the labour market in which a community is located and the educational attainment of the residents in that Aboriginal community. In your context, that would be an Inuit community. We will look at the dynamics and whether there is a fit within each of these locations. That is part of our research agenda over the course of the next two or three years, unfortunately.

Senator Sibbeston: I saw a breakdown of statistics done on a regional basis. If you had looked at the Northwest Territories in particular in 1970 and then looked at it now, you would see tremendous changes. Aboriginal people who once lived on the land have now become educated and have become part of society, working at the diamond mines, working for government, for the CBC and for all other institutions of government. You would see that there has been tremendous change. Do your statistics in any way reflect that change? Are the Northwest Territories better than other parts of the country? Have Aboriginal peoples of the North done better than those in other parts of the country? If you do not know the answer, could you please examine that question and provide that information to us?

Ms. Badets: It could be possible from the census to look at that over time as long as we have comparability in what you are asking, but we have not looked at it specifically.

Senator Sibbeston: I think there has been tremendous change. I am proud of the North because I was involved in the government that set up institutions and programs to assist Aboriginal people to get into the modern world. Senator Patterson and I come from the North, and we are proud of our work.

Interestingly, we worked together in the North in government. At one point, I was government leader; at another point he was government leader. Yet, we were always on the same side. He is now on that side of the table and I am on this side, unfortunately; we get lost in Ottawa.

The Chair: Senator Sibbeston, we are all the same around this table.

Senator Marshall: Mr. Guimond, looking at the material you provided, I have some questions about pages 6 and 11. Earlier, you spoke about the factors that could influence educational attainments and you said they could be individual, family or community. The statistics are interesting, but is there any linkage at all of these statistics to the factors you referred to earlier? You are trying to determine why there is a variation in achievements. While the numbers are interesting in themselves, they are not linked to any factors. Has any work been done on linkage?

Mr. Guimond: Yes, by my colleague at the end of the table, Ms. Bougie.

Senator Marshall: I will carry on, then. I noticed the diagram on page 6. Why would Metis have a higher achievement rate compared to Inuit? What are the specific differences? What are the different factors that influence those two different levels of attainment?

Mr. Guimond: I have not looked specifically at the differential impact of these factors on different groups. My researcher's intuition would point me toward location first.

Senator Marshall: Can you be specific about location?

Mr. Guimond: Many First Nations communities are not located in urban areas. It is the community dimension. Many Metis individuals are residents of cities in Canada. That is not so much the case for the Inuit or for the registered Indians off-reserve, obviously.

Senator Marshall: Has that been proven by research, or is that more a deduction?

Ms. Keenan: There is not much research specifically on the differences between the various Aboriginal communities. However, a fair bit of research has been done on predictors of success in the general population. Within the school system, the most important factors concern the quality of the teachers, early intervention and tracking progress. Within the school system, that is most important.

However, within the general population, some important predictors of how well the student will do are the mother's level of education, the income level of the family and the location of the family. Within the general population, children living in this neighbourhood will do relatively well compared to their cousins who happen to live 500 miles north, where they do not have the same kind of resources; the school does not have the same kind of resources; the community does not have the same kind of resources; and the opportunities are not necessarily as obvious to the students as they are in a place with these kinds of resources available to it.

Senator Marshall: Looking at the diagram again, I am looking at high school diploma or higher, and for Inuit it is 38.7 per cent, while for non-status Indians it is 61.7 per cent. Are we able to indicate why one is at 38.7 per cent but the other is at 61.7 per cent? I am trying to get a handle on why there is a variation. How are the factors contributing to the end result?

Ms. Keenan: I do not know of any study that would have tracked individuals to demonstrate this. However, as Mr. Guimond indicated earlier, the Metis population is much more likely to be near urban areas, whereas the Inuit population typically is in the territories and the Northern parts of some of the provinces. The demographics, the distance from a large urban centre, access to services — all of those will impact on the educational outcomes.

Senator Marshall: Please look at the diagram on page 11, at registered Indians. Is there any explanation as to why Atlantic Canada has a higher level of achievement than Manitoba?

Ms. Keenan: Again, it is much like the earlier answer. In the Atlantic region, those are not remote communities. They are relatively close to the kinds of urban services that other Canadians would access, whereas Manitoba and Ontario have a number of remote, fly-in communities that simply do not have the size or the economies of scale or the access to the level of services that a community situated closer to a large urban area would.

Senator Patterson: My first questions are for the people from Statistics Canada. I have some fairly basic questions about methodology. We received some fascinating testimony from the Canadian Council on Learning, which completed a report in December 2009 called The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A Holistic Approach to Measuring Success. Basically, as I understood their presentation, to measure success, first you need a clear idea of what the objectives are for the education system. Once the objectives are clear, then you need to develop indicators to measure progress toward those specific objectives. Of course, we are looking at education for our First Nations.

You did this significant work, including a look at Aboriginal children's success in education specifically. What objectives for Aboriginal education did you have in mind when constructing these surveys?

Ms. Badets: I will explain the process we go through in doing our surveys. We certainly look to our users of the data and our stakeholders and look to their data needs. For example, we would work with INAC and Aboriginal communities and other stakeholders to find out what their data needs are, what their objectives are and how they need the information to inform their own policy or programs. That is our first step in this. Then we work on the types of questions needed. Sometimes we start with a framework, and sometimes our stakeholders give us a series of indicators or topics they feel we need to be asking about or probing in these surveys, and then we work from that on a set of questions that will get at that. Then it is a process of developing those questions and ensuring they will get the quality of information and will be well understood. In very general terms, that is how we go about constructing surveys such as this.

Evelyne Bougie, Analyst, Social and Aboriginal Statistics Division, Statistics Canada: In the context of the Aboriginal Peoples Survey, on children and youth and the education module, the objective while building the content of the survey was to understand the factors that underlie school success. School success can be defined in many different ways and in a holistic way, but here we were interested in knowing at a basic level the factors that are associated with doing well at school.

We know those factors are holistic. There are home factors, family factors, school factors and community factors. In the survey, we have included indicators to measure this variety of contributing factors, and we were able to do a study that provided some answers to that question. We were driven by this research question.

Senator Patterson: Thank you. Yes, the Community Well-Being Index goes into the broader aspects of students' lives. I guess I want to get at the objectives. It seems to me, with all respect, that, looking at your survey backwards, you looked at trades qualification, college completion, university completion and high school diploma and perhaps some other things that I did not mention. The point of the presentation we heard from the Canadian Council on Learning was that that is a fairly narrow field of parameters, that those objectives are quite limited. We had some information from INAC that also suggested that education would be measured in terms of these conventional measurements of high school diploma and other things we have heard tonight.

I challenge you to ask whether educational objectives for First Nations learners should be different from those of other Canadians. You do studies on the general population. Were these studies you did on First Nations substantially different from those for other Canadians? Should we perhaps take a closer look at the unique situation, needs, background, history, culture and spiritual beliefs of First Nations learners if we want to measure their success? It is a pretty bleak picture when you use the conventional indicators. We know all about the gap.

The Canadian Council on Learning argued that a more holistic approach and a broader look would find some strengths and successes that would give us a little bit more encouragement. I do not know whether I am making myself clear, but I am trying to get at your fundamental premise.

Ms. Badets: I will try to address that. In the Aboriginal Children's Survey, which was a unique survey for young children looking at early childhood development, we looked at that a little differently. You are right. At times we need more culturally appropriate content in order to better understand the situation of, for example, First Nations children, Metis and Inuit. That survey broke a lot of ground because of that. We also have the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth in Canada. The Aboriginal Children's Survey also took some of those measures but looked at them more in the context of the Aboriginal situation.

To some extent, the Aboriginal Peoples Survey includes that additional content. In the census, we have some basic indicators of school attainment that are used in Canada and internationally. A combination of all data sources will develop the larger picture and inform the issues that need to be informed.

Mr. Guimond: An equal challenge should be sent to academia, because Canada's first duty is to collect based on the needs expressed by Canadians. Academia is there to exploit that data and figure out the story from the data. Therefore, academia needs to be challenged on this point.

Senator Raine: The statistics are overwhelming. Last week, we were impressed with looking at another way of evaluating progress. It was stressed that we need to have targets and measures. My question is to Ms. Keenan: Does the education department in INAC have educational targets and standards that it seeks to attain? If so, are they being measured? If we do not have targets, how will we know whether we are making progress?

Ms. Keenan: It is a work-in-progress. In 2008, a number of new initiatives were put in place as foundational pieces to begin to help First Nations schools to achieve more success for students. One of the initiatives was to develop an education information system to track expected progress from existing programs. That work is underway now. There have been ongoing discussions with First Nations communities across Canada for the last six months on the important indicators and what uses could be made of the information system that would be advantageous to First Nations as well as to the Government of Canada.

Much of the discussion referred to earlier has been part of that. An education system is partly about equipping people to function effectively as adults and partly about transmitting culture and values from one generation to another.

One of the new programs was designed specifically to help schools to improve three areas. The first is literacy outcomes for students, which is so fundamental to a student's chances in life. A couple of states in the U.S. use the grade 3 reading scores to indicate the potential pressures on the penal system 20 years ahead. That is a key factor. The second is numeracy, which is key to accessing a range of occupations. The third is student retention.

The programming is available on a proposal basis. It is required that those undertaking to participate in the program must choose their targets to improve literacy, numeracy and student retention. The targets are not set in part because different schools are situated differently and their base lines are different. The measure of progress will be more about how much improvement is possible rather than about a particular standard to be met over the next couple of years.

Senator Raine: Do you think that educational objectives for First Nations learners differ from those of other Canadians?

Ms. Keenan: At a high level, they are fairly universal across the world. However, within the city of Ottawa, the specific objectives in any one school might be different than those in another school because of where the students come from, the parental preoccupations, whether it is a Catholic or a private school. A French Catholic school might have a more focused effort on language transferral and success on the provincial tests than a neighbouring school might have. There is a universal interest in seeing the school system support the families in the communities while ensuring that the students have the best preparation for the life ahead.

Senator Raine: Beginning in the early 1970s, day-to-day administration of primary and secondary education was increasingly devolved to First Nations. Has the progress been tracked? It was quite a big change. We know that only a small number of people work in your department to try to administer education across the country. When it is devolved, do we track the progress?

Ms. Keenan: The census data speaks to that, so the department does not have to track it. The interest in different outcomes is triggered by the fact that what is there is not serving the students who are there.

Senator Raine: I would like to explore the tripartite agreements. Maybe you could explain what the department is looking for in these tripartite agreements. Do you think this is the way of the future to work closer with the provincial education departments?

Ms. Keenan: The interest in the tripartite agreements has to do with different representatives entering into a working relationship that is largely focused on improving student outcomes for First Nation students, whether they are in First Nations on-reserve schools or in provincial schools. The form of those agreements will vary. In some places it is province-wide, and in other places it is regional within the province. The particular focus decided on by the partners has varied. New Brunswick was first, and that province identified working on improving the early learning years for students entering school. I would say we are seeing an evolution in the substance of the memoranda of understanding as others learn from ones who have gone before. The MOUs are becoming less about good intentions and more about concrete steps that can be taken.

The obvious advantage to working there is that everybody has a shared interest in seeing the students do better. The First Nations on reserves are very mobile, with many of them ending up in provincial schools at some point. They might start in a First Nations school, but many communities are so small that they do not have the required numbers to sustain a high school. There is a shared interest among the educators on reserve and the provincial educators to ease the transition so that children can move easily into the next school system and so that children in both systems do better. The results in the provincial schools have room to improve as well.

The provinces have a particular advantage in that they have scale and scope that the First Nations within any one province do not have. They have ministers of education, school boards and a great deal of expertise in curriculum development. They are well placed to share that expertise with First Nation educators. As well, the First Nation educators need to share their knowledge and expertise to inform and shape the provincial curriculum to ensure that it is inclusive and reflective and that it serves all students within both educational school systems.

Senator Raine: We have heard about the cap on funding and the per-student funding being so different between on-reserve elementary schools and provincial schools. If the student goes to an off-reserve school, the federal government pays more to the provincial education department than it would pay if that student were on-reserve.

I do not understand how we are to deliver decent elementary school education on the reserves if we do not have equivalent or perhaps even more funding for them. Many special issues have to be dealt with.

Ms. Keenan: There is no simple answer, in part because of the complex way the Government of Canada funds First Nations education. We have had a fair bit of work going on now because, in order to answer fairly, we need to know how much money is going to each First Nation community for the students, whether they are in their school or in the provincial school.

I have seen a number of the reports you have referred to. Sometimes they are not complete; typically, when you see a huge gap, the analysis has been done based on the amount of funding provided for instructional services compared to the amount of funding available for provincial tuition. There are other envelopes that are also available to the First Nation schools.

When you are doing an actual comparison, you need to be inclusive in your approach. Even doing that you will still see that within any one province some First Nations might be funded at a higher level than what they are paying for provincial tuition; others may be similar, and others may be different. That is one of the issues that will have to be addressed as we move out with this.

Your point is well taken. We need to get the work done so that everybody has a very good appreciation of how much money is available to any one community, how that compares to the neighbouring school and whether there are other factors that have to be taken into account. At the end of day, it will not necessarily be exact dollar to dollar. Other things may have to be factored in.

Senator Raine: I urge you to get the figures in a form that can be compared, because it is causing many hardships. I know that with respect to the amount of money they are able to pay their teachers, it is a competitive situation. For instance, the on-reserve school might have a teacher who is doing great, performing well and has learned some special skills. Suddenly that teacher can make a lot more money down the road at a provincial school. The on-reserve school is not able to keep such teachers. Those are real challenges. If we do not fix those, we will not have a better outcome.

Ms. Keenan: Funding is certainly a tool, but it is not sufficient in and of itself. It is part of an overall package that must be in place.

The Chair: If we do not build a sound foundation it does not matter how much money we throw at the problem, it will not resolve itself.

Ms. Keenan and Mr. Guimond referred to remote communities in Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Conceivably we could go to a tripartite agreement involving First Nations, with the Crown maintaining its fiduciary responsibility. A great fear with First Nations is that the federal government is trying to abdicate its responsibilities by going into a different venue with education. I guess, as well, that it would take away the control of certain monies from the existing chiefs and councils; is that correct?

Ms. Keenan: Under the tripartite agreements that have been arrived at there is no change in where the funding goes. I think you are referring to what might happen if a regional educational authority were established in the future, along the lines of what Michael Mendelson proposed; then the funding would perhaps go to the education authority rather than individual bands. That is probably more the issue you have in mind.

The Chair: When we are studying this subject, do you think there is reason to consider that remote areas should be thought of differently than the First Nations communities that are adjacent to or within a stone's throw of urban and more built-up communities?

Ms. Keenan: Remote communities, whether First Nations or non-Aboriginal, face the same kinds of challenges. I think you are absolutely right: the economies are different, the economies of scale are different, the prospects for those students are different, the ability to get services and the ability to recruit strong teachers is different.

From a provincial perspective as well, there must be an interest. The dropout rates in rural and remote communities in the provincial system are much higher than those in a typical urban area. What you do in terms of structure remains to be seen, but certainly they are differently situated and they face challenges that communities close to an urban centre do not.

The Chair: Am I correct that under your directorate there are 75,000 students in about 515 schools?

Ms. Keenan: There are 515 schools, with a total of about 118,000 full-time students, of which 40 per cent are in provincial schools and 60 per cent are in First Nation schools on-reserve.

The Chair: I think it was Ms. Badets who spoke about the lack of support in these remote school regions for children who need assistance with learning disabilities and learning challenges, whether those challenges are the result of attention deficit disorder or fetal alcohol syndrome.

Ms. Keenan: There is a special education envelope available, but I think remote communities — First Nations or otherwise — will face particular challenges in being able to access specialized services.

Senator Hubley: Sections 114 to 122 of the Indian Act cover the education of First Nations children living on reserves, dating from 1927. Most of these sections deal with attendance and truancy. They contain no reference to any substantive education questions, including the quality of education to be provided.

Could you comment on the Indian Act and its capacity for playing any role now in the educational system, or would you consider it obsolete at this time?

Ms. Keenan: Your summation of it clearly illustrates just what a gap there is.

Senator Hubley: Thank you.

Senator Patterson: I did not catch your answer.

Ms. Keenan: I said the summation clearly indicated the nature of the gap.

Senator Patterson: I would like to pursue that a bit further, if I may. These current sections in the Indian Act are largely obsolete or inoperative. Do you agree with that?

Ms. Keenan: The Indian Act was drafted at a different time, and it is permissive in nature, but it does not address issues of quality of education.

Senator Patterson: Budget 2010 commits:

The Government will work with First Nations groups and other willing partners to develop options, including new legislation, to improve the governance framework and clarify accountability for First Nations elementary and secondary education.

We know also that there is legislation in some provinces that covers First Nations education. British Columbia has jurisdiction over First Nations education in the First Nations Education Act as of 2007. There is comparable legislation in Nova Scotia for participating Mi'kmaq First Nations.

Given the gap in the federal legislation, would you agree that new legislation should be introduced as an instrument to reform First Nations primary and secondary education?

Ms. Keenan: Certainly that option should be looked at. However, as we know from legislation in other places, you can have fine legislation. It is a tool. It does not guarantee improvements in and of itself.

I think there is a huge gap in the accountability framework for the quality of education and for the kinds of services available to First Nations students. That must be addressed. The pieces of legislation you referred to are amongst the options, but there may be other options as well. There may also be accountability frameworks or other mechanisms. It is not necessarily one piece that will be prescriptive and serve everyone's interests. Different things may be needed and done differently in different places.

Senator Patterson: Just a few months ago the government committed to working with willing partners and developing options, including new legislation. Is an initiative going on under your authority to look at this question? Is there a time frame?

Ms. Keenan: I cannot articulate a time frame at this stage because it is too early, but certainly there is a commitment to undertake to work with partners across the country on what might be done. The whole focus is about improving student outcomes. Legislation and accountability frameworks are tools to move towards that kind of initiative. The work is under way, but exactly what and when has not yet been finalized.

Senator Patterson: Senator Raine asked about support services available to First Nations schools compared to those provided by the provincial boards and education ministries. This question of developing legislation and accountability frameworks, as you described it, is challenging stuff.

We earlier got a detailed presentation on the First Nations schools operated under Indian and Northern Affairs, and we were told that roughly 60 people run the schools. You are the director general of education. Are you in a separate division, or are you one of the 60 or so who manage this big system?

Ms. Keenan: I head up the group within INAC where about 60 people on staff do policy and program management. However, the schools are administered and run by First Nation educators.

Senator Patterson: There are 60 staff, basically, in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Ms. Keenan: In the education program at INAC, that is correct.

The Chair: What do you mean by "First Nation educators"?

Ms. Keenan: The reference was to 60 people running the schools, when in fact those 60 people have nothing to do with running the schools. The schools are run by the First Nations communities across the country. Those 60 people do the public service work required to develop programs and policies and to manage the program administration, which is a decentralized approach. That is the group you have within the National Capital Region. INAC has regional offices in every part of the country that do the overall program delivery, not just education, but all delivery to First Nation communities, and the school administration component of education would all be done at the local level, not by INAC.

The Chair: If you do not mind me interjecting, Senator Patterson, what expertise do the people who are responsible or who are being given the funding have in education to measure outcomes?

Ms. Keenan: Are you referring to the First Nation communities?

The Chair: Yes.

Ms. Keenan: Of all segments of the population, the First Nations community is probably one of the most varied. There are some extremely well-educated people administering the First Nation schools, but many of the schools are very small and in very small communities, so people do the best they can with the resources they have available. In the wake of devolution it was set up so that each community had its own school, and typically they do not have access to the kinds of services provincial governments now have. They do not tend to have entities like school boards to aid and abet, and they do not have ministries of education. They look to the provincial curriculum for the kinds of education they should be providing to their students, but it is a very fluid and unstructured approach to delivering education.

Senator Patterson: I appreciate Ms. Keenan's candour. My background is at the territorial level in education. I know that passing a law does not make things better, and I am not saying it is a panacea, but I am quite astonished, frankly, that we learned that the provisions in the Indian Act are so dated as to be pretty well obsolete or inoperative, mostly. Thought is being given to modernizing or developing new legislation, but it is at the very early stages. There is no minister of education for First Nations education, unless it is the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. I suppose that is where the accountability does ultimately end, but that is a very big job if he is the one who holds that responsibility. Our chair asked about things like special needs education and whether there are resources, or I would say whether those special needs children have rights to have their needs addressed. There may be a fund, but I am sure there is not really any real statutory muscle behind that program or that funding.

It seems like the system that has evolved over time is not coherent. Maybe responsibility has been handed to First Nations with the best of intentions but without structure or resources. Although we see some notable successes, generally those are exceptional. It seems to me that our committee has a huge challenge, Mr. Chair.

The Chair: I know. This issue has been studied to death from every which way. That is why we are trying to stay focused. We want to look at the question of what we need. Do we need a legislative framework? Are these tripartite memoranda of understanding with the provinces the route to go? Ms. Keenan's job is next to impossible. She has been totally candid and upfront. That is why I would like to stay focused. If we were to drop billions of dollars on First Nations right now, it really would not make that much difference because there are so many extenuating circumstances with education of First Nations. We need to build a foundation, a small foundation, and then build from there. We can go all over the place and criticize people in the past and the present and in the future for not giving the amount of funding, but if you do have not the structures in place to deal with some of these things, I do not think we will see the difference we expect and hope for.

I do not think there is anyone in the country or in the world who does not want to see improvement in this particular area, because it is so critical to the future of all of us — to First Nations, to Aboriginal peoples, non-Aboriginals and everybody. Ms. Keenan made reference to the number of people who are incarcerated. There is a direct relationship between incarceration and lack of education.

Senator Raine: I would like to interject a note of optimism. During the Olympics, I was invited to a forum held by the Governor General. She had about 600 young people, probably from age 15 to 20. About half of them were Aboriginal and the other half came from all different backgrounds. The forum was a dialogue back and forth.

I have never been so impressed with a group of young people as I was with the Aboriginal people that day. They were chosen by their communities as future leaders. They were articulate, bright and proud and they looked great. They were absolutely outstanding. This is a very young and dynamic community, and if we can engage them in their future, I am sure they will take it up.

Looking at it this way, we know there are a lot of young mothers with infants, preschool and early childhood infants, living on the reserves. Are we reaching out and engaging them in the education of their young people? In particular, we have numeracy and literacy, and the third thing we have to watch out for is physical literacy — physical education and watching out for diet, making sure people are getting the right activity levels. Could you explain the early childhood programs that might be working on that particular base?

Ms. Keenan: I like your optimistic note. I do not see that we have any choice but to see much better outcomes. There is too much potential to waste it.

In terms of early childhood learning, Health Canada administers the Head Start program, which has centres in about half of the First Nations communities across the country. Some work extremely well, and some struggle more.

A Head Start centre with strong leadership, where the children are learning and not just being, seems to have a high correlation with positive outcomes once the children get to school. It is true for the non-Aboriginal population as well, particularly for children who are relatively disadvantaged. It can make a big difference in closing the gap.

It is not the only answer, because children from more disadvantaged communities tend to lose a lot over summer periods. That is part of what needs to be looked at: How do you level the playing field to ensure they do not fall further behind when children from more privileged areas are travelling and participating in day camps and doing all kinds of interesting things that are important to their learning?

There is a high correlation between physical activity and school outcomes, particularly for young girls who are physically active; they do better in school and are much less likely to end up with early pregnancies. That is an important dimension to keep in mind.

The whole neuroscience world is just beginning to understand how many external factors impact on the potential for an individual to be successful. Clearly diet, physical activity and stress levels for infants can have an impact on their ability to learn later on. It is a fascinating field. I can only believe that 10 years from now, we will have seen much progress.

Senator Peterson: Mr. Guimond, just a few final questions for the record. Could you speak to the issue of under-enumeration on First Nations reserves? Could this exert any influence on the reliability of the census data?

Mr. Guimond: Yes, there are issues relative to coverage every census. You see similar type of issues with respect to the entire Canadian population. Some communities refuse to participate as a whole. Generally, it is an issue that we see across the board for census data, and we see it from census to census.

With respect to this affecting our ability to track characteristics or even population size through time, it is my understanding that this particular issue has a limited impact on our ability to track over time. There would have to be tremendous variations from one census to the next in the quality of coverage for it to impact the measures that we use. They tend to be relatively constant, except for the 1986-1991 instance I referred to earlier. Now, generally, they go in the direction of improvement, as illustrated by some of the reports published by Statistics Canada following the 2006 Census. In a nutshell, my answer would be no, the quality of the information is sufficient to meet our needs.

Senator Peterson: Could you explain the term "ethnic mobility" and its potential relevance for comparisons of Aboriginal groups over time?

Mr. Guimond: I guess you read one of my studies. Ethnic mobility is a factor that refers to changes in self-identification of individuals or within families. There are two types of ethnic mobility; one is intergenerational and the other is intra-generational.

Intergenerational usually happens when you have intermarriage; a First Nations person forms a family and has children with a non-First Nations person. They will raise their children according to one or both cultures, or maybe a totally different culture. In those instances, we often see a shift in how the next generation will self-identity with no cultural basis.

Many of us have multiple ancestries, and that reflects this intergenerational ethnic mobility that we see from generation to generation. For example, I have French, Irish and Mi'kmaq ancestry, but I was raised in Montreal as a French Canadian, so that is how I self-identify.

The intra-generational one is related to folks who have multiple ancestries. Basically, it is people shifting how they self-report through time. It could be for individual reasons; it could be for political reasons.

We have definitely seen this phenomenon in Canada with the Aboriginal population, especially the Metis population. We have also seen it in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, along with ethnic minorities in the ex-Soviet Union and China.

Right now, the Metis population is growing at such a pace that basically it could double every 13 years or so. After 100 years, it would be 200 times its initial size. That would mean that eventually we could all be Metis in Canada. It will not likely be sustained over time.

That is what is referred to by the expression "ethnic mobility." It has contributed a great deal to the growth of the Metis population since 1986.

Senator Peterson: Are there any changes to the Canadian census — for example, changes in the questions between the census years 1996 to 2006 — that might have influenced the data on educational attainment?

Mr. Guimond: The education question or the Aboriginal identity question?

Senator Peterson: On the education question. Were any changes made to the questions?

Ms. Bougie: In 2006 there were changes to the education module. In a nutshell, previously the census was able to measure years of schooling without the person having completed any degrees. In 2006, it shifted to completed degrees. This was a major change, but we can still get the data on the proportions in the population having high school or less than high school, or trades, college and university. We would still have access to those indicators.

The Chair: Let us leave on a positive note. I think Ms. Keenan indicated in response to Senator Raine that there is hope, light at the end of the tunnel, and that we should maybe be guided by the Canadian Council on Learning, which said we should look at the positives and not only at the negatives. There is a bit more of a holistic approach, and possibly we can work toward a solution.

Ms. Keenan, can you add anything to this discussion? I am trying to focus. I do not want a huge report with a thousand recommendations. I would like to have something that builds on the foundation to get ourselves out of this situation right across the country, if that is possible.

Senator Patterson: On that note, if I may, Mr. Chair, I want to be optimistic as well. I hope I did not sound too pessimistic with my last intervention. I wonder whether Ms. Keenan would now or perhaps in the future be willing to give us some examples of best practices. I know there are areas and regions where things are working that maybe we could learn something from. That might be something the committee could appreciate.

The Chair: Could we impose on you for that, Ms. Keenan?

Ms. Keenan: I would be pleased to do so.

The Chair: I want to thank all of you for appearing tonight and being as candid and straightforward as you have been in answering questions. Your presentations were excellent. We may ask you to come back, if necessary. Senator Patterson's last intervention clearly indicates that we would like to maintain contact with you because you do hold, I am sure, some of the keys to the solutions we are seeking.

(The committee adjourned.)