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Understanding the Increases in Education Spending in Public Schools in Canada

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Understanding the Increases in Education Spending in Public Schools in Canada

Education spending on public schools in Canada increased by $19.1 billion (45.9%) between 2003/04 and 2012/13, from $41.6 billion to $60.7 billion. Compensation (salaries and wages, benefits, and pensions) accounted for the overwhelming majority of this increase, growing from $30.9 billion in 2003/04 to $44.6 billion in 2012/13, an increase of 44.6%—fully 72.2% of the total increase in education spending. Salaries and wages increased by 42.0%, from $25.5 billion in 2003/04 to $36.3 billion in 2012/13. Benefits increased by 36.2%, from $3.2 billion to $4.4 billion. Salaries and wages as well as benefits declined as a share of total education spending over this time period.

Teacher pension costs increased 89.0%, from $2.1 billion in 2003/04 to $4.0 billion in 2012/13. Pension costs increased as a share of total spending in public schools, from 5.1 to 6.6%. Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta account for over three-quarters of the total increase in pension spending.

Capital spending almost doubled (a 97.6% increase) over this period, from $2.4 billion in 2003/04 to $4.8 billion in 2012/13. As a share of total education spending in public schools, capital spending increased from 5.8 to 7.9% in 2012/13.

Three provinces—Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia—represent 92.0% of the total increase in capital spending. “Other” spending recorded the smallest increase of any category of spending in public schools over this period. As a share of total education spending it declined from 20.0% in 2003/04 to 18.6% in 2012/13.


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