I would remind the hon. opposition member that our government firmly believes that all first nations students across Canada deserve access to a school system that meets provincial and territorial standards while respecting first nations culture, language, rights, and treaties.
It is not just our government that has been calling for change. First nations have been advocating for greater control over their children's education for decades. This has been reiterated to the minister on numerous occasions by first nations across the country that have been pressing for education reform.
Our government is listening to these calls from first nations leadership, educators, technicians, and youth who are unhappy with the current non-system that has been failing first nations students for years. It is time to provide first nations with choice in terms of the management and delivery of education in their communities. It is time to work with them to ensure that first nations students get the education system they deserve. In short, it is time for reform of the first nations education system.
Over the past year, our government has contributed over $1.5 billion to support first nations elementary and secondary education. On a per capita basis, this amounts to approximately $14,000 per full-time equivalent student. Not included in this calculation is an investment of approximately $200 million to maintain and improve education infrastructure for band-operated schools.
Despite these investments, it is clear that money is not the only solution. The non-system of education is not working for the majority of first nations students who do not graduate from high school. This is the sad reality and undeniable truth. Many with direct experience in first nations education, as well as the Auditor General of Canada, have said that this is due to a patchwork system that does not have the supports and services that are available to most Canadians.
Our government is committed to addressing this situation and is building on the successful models that already exist. That is why we have shared “Working Together for First Nation Students: a Proposal for a Bill on First Nations Education” with every first nation across the country. We have asked them to share a copy with their membership, along with provinces and key stakeholders, as part of the ongoing consultation process. We look forward to receiving everyone's feedback and input.
This draft legislative proposal would support the vision of first nations control of first nations education and would create a comprehensive framework to enable first nations to design and implement their own education systems, while meeting or exceeding minimum standards.
In addition, the proposal would ensure that education standards were equivalent to the quality of school systems off reserve and would deliver a curriculum that is reflective of first nations' unique needs, culture, and interests. This would help first nations students achieve a quality education that would allow them to move seamlessly between first nation and provincial schools and to pursue their studies in a consistent manner.
It would be up to first nations to decide how best to meet or even exceed these standards within their education programs. This draft legislative proposal is a significant step forward, in the spirit of reconciliation, in pursuing our shared goal with first nations of closing the gaps between first nations and all Canadians.
We continue to invite all first nations to provide input on the important issue of improving education outcomes and the proposed way forward.