The Ontario government is expanding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for eligible programs at Indigenous Institutes starting in the 2020-21 academic year. This financial assistance will help ensure Indigenous learners have access to a culturally responsive and high-quality postsecondary education that will prepare them to meet local labour market needs.
The announcement was made today by Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs, on behalf of Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities.
“For the first time in Ontario’s history, students will be able to access culturally supportive, OSAP eligible programs that are independently delivered at Indigenous Institutes,” said Minister Rickford. “Indigenous Institutes are an integral part of Ontario’s postsecondary education system and this financial assistance will help Indigenous learners get the skills they need to succeed.”
Previously, students attending Indigenous Institutes could only receive OSAP if the program was delivered in partnership with an Ontario college or university. Beginning this year, Ontario is designating Indigenous Institutes as approved institutions for OSAP purposes to allow eligible students to apply for assistance. Indigenous Institutes can begin offering their own independently delivered, quality-assured OSAP eligible programs with approval from the Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills Council.
“By investing in culturally responsive and high-quality postsecondary education, we are supporting Indigenous learners and communities by providing them with the tools and resources they need to build solutions, develop economies and become empowered leaders,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “We know there is an attainment gap in postsecondary education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners. There is widespread agreement by Indigenous leaders, communities and education professionals that investing in culturally responsive postsecondary education opportunities for Indigenous learners will have tremendous benefits and reduce this gap.”
“Indigenous Institutes are a foundational pillar of Ontario’s postsecondary education system alongside colleges and universities,” said Rebecca Jamieson, Acting Chair, Indigenous Institutes Consortium (IIC). “IIC member Institutes welcome the regulation change designating Indigenous Institutes as eligible to administer OSAP financial assistance to eligible students enrolled in accredited Indigenous Institute programs. This ensures that students enrolled in our programs have equal access to student financial assistance.”
“We appreciate the Government of Ontario’s ongoing collaboration and support for Indigenous postsecondary Institutes,” said Suzanne Brant, President of First Nations Technical Institute. “I would like to thank Minister Ross Romano and Minister Greg Rickford on the provision of OSAP to Indigenous Institutes for quality-assured postsecondary education credentials. It is a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to Indigenous students achieving their full potential in Ontario.”
- Since 2018, enrolment at Indigenous Institutes has increased by nearly 40 per cent.
- Indigenous Institutes currently partner with colleges and universities to offer degree, certificate and diploma programs.
- The Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills Council is an Indigenous-controlled and governed body which has the authority to approve quality-assured credentials in the Indigenous Institutes sector.
- There is an attainment gap in postsecondary education for Indigenous learners. Approximately 53 per cent of Indigenous people (aged 25-64) hold a postsecondary credential, compared to 65 per cent of the non-Indigenous population (2016 Canadian Census).