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Elementary and Secondary Education across the Provinces

Ontario’s education system offers opportunities to learn in English, French, French immersion and English as a second language.


n the province of Québec, a few schools offer English immersion programs for advanced students. English schools offer a wide range of programs that include French as a second language, French immersion, and fully bilingual programs that teach both English and French as first languages. There are publicly-funded French and English schools. In Québec, all students must attend French-language public schools, except those who can obtain a Certificate of Eligibility for instruction in English-language public schools:
  • Children who have done most of their elementary or secondary studies in English elsewhere in Canada
  • Children whose father or mother did most of his or her elementary studies in English anywhere in Canada
  • Children of Canadian citizens, whose brother or sister did or are doing his/ her elementary or secondary studies in English anywhere in Canada
  • Temporary residents of Québec, with a proper authorization from the Protocol Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Québec

Typically, foreign students wishing to attend school in Québec are required to make a lump sum payment for their education. Permanent representatives, members of the administrative and service staff of a permanent mission, officials, as well as the spouses and dependent children under 25 of any of the aforementioned individuals are exempt from this payment.

Alberta Education, one of the ministries of the Government of Alberta, is responsible for primary and secondary education, while Innovation and Advanced Education is responsible for post-secondary education. Children attend public, separate, francophone or charter schools that are part of the public education system.

In British Columbia, the Ministry of Education is responsible for primary and secondary education, while the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology is responsible for post-secondary education.

The elementary and secondary school that a child attends is usually determined by the child’s home address. Most schools have a catchment area that entitles families residing within it to attend their schools. Parents are advised to start searching for schools available near their residences as soon as possible. Another option is to decide on the school district first and then find a home located in the school’s catchment area. This may be the only way to meet the need for services, such as those required by students with special needs.

The following table compares years of schooling across provinces