Education in Canada
Education has two main goals: to give individuals the opportunity to develop
themselves, and to provide society with the skills it needs to evolve in its best
interests. Canada’s educational system is based on finding a coordinated approach
to the pursuit of these sometimes conflicting goals. Comprehensive, diversified, and
available to everyone, the system reflects the Canadian belief in the importance of
Education in Canada consists of 10 provincial and two territorial systems, including
public schools, “separate” (i.e., denominational) schools, and private schools.

Children are required by law to attend school from the age of 6 or 7 until they are
15 or 16. To make it possible to fulfil this obligation, all non-private education
through secondary (or “high”) school is publicly funded. In Quebec, general and
vocational colleges (CEGEPs, or Colleges d’enseignement gnral et professionnel)
are also publicly funded and require only a minimal registration fee. Most other
post-secondary schools, however, charge tuition fees.
A provincial responsibility
Unlike many other industrialized countries, Canada has no federal educational
system: the Constitution vested the exclusive responsibility for education in the
provinces. Each provincial system, while similar to the others, reflects its particular
region, history, and culture. The provincial departments of education–headed by an
elected minister–set standards, draw up curriculums, and give grants to educational
Responsibility for the administration of elementary and secondary schools is
delegated to local elected school boards or commissions. The boards set budgets, hire
and negotiate with teachers, and shape school curriculums within provincial
A broad federal role
The federal government plays an indirect but vital role in education. It provides
financial support for post-secondary education, labour market training, and the
teaching of the two official languages–especially second-language training. In
addition, it is responsible for the education of Aboriginals, armed forces personnel
and their dependants, and inmates of federal penal institutions. Overall, the federal
government pays over one-fifth of Canada’s yearly educational bill.
One important part of this contribution is the Canada Student Loans Program,
which assists students who do not have sufficient resources to pursue their studies.

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The program provides loan guarantees and, in the case of full-time students, interest
subsidies to help meet the cost of studies at the post-secondary level. Provinces have
complementary programs of loans and bursaries.
Another federal initiative, scheduled to take effect in the year 2000, is Canada
Millennium Scholarships. Through an initial endowment of $2.5 billion, this
program will provide scholarships to more than 100,000 students each year over 10
years. This represents the largest single investment the federal government has ever
made in support of universal access to post-secondary education. Scholarships will
average $3,000 a year, and individuals can receive up to $15,000 over a maximum of
four academic years. These scholarships could halve the debt load that recipients
would otherwise face.
Elementary and secondary schools
About five million children now attend public schools in Canada In some provinces,
children can enter kindergarten at the age of four before starting the elementary
grades at age six. General and fundamental, the elementary curriculum emphasizes
the basic subjects of language, math, social studies, introductory arts and science.
In general, high school programs consist of two streams. The first prepares students
for university, the second for post-secondary education at a community college or
institute of technology, or for the workplace. There are also special programs for
students unable to complete the conventional courses of study.
In most provinces, individual schools now set, conduct and mark their own
examinations. In some provinces, however, students must pass a graduation
examination in certain key subjects in order to proceed to the post-secondary level.

University entrance thus depends on course selection and marks in high school;
requirements vary from province to province.
Other schools
For parents seeking alternatives to the public system, there are separate as well as
private schools. Some provinces have legislation that permits the establishment of
separate schools by religious groups. Mostly Roman Catholic, separate schools,
which in 1995 accounted for about one-fourth of Canada’s public school enrolment,
offer a complete parochial curriculum from kindergarten through the secondary
level in some provinces.
Private or independent schools have a current enrolment of over a quarter of a
million students, and offer a great variety of curriculum options based on religion,
language, or academic status.
Teacher training
Canada’s elementary and secondary education systems employ close to 300,000
full-time teachers. Their professional training generally includes at least four or five
years of study (a Bachelor of Education degree normally requires university
graduation plus one year of educational studies). Teachers are licensed by the
provincial departments of education.
Post-Secondary education
For most of Canada’s history, post-secondary education was provided almost
exclusively by its universities. These were mainly private institutions, many with a
religious affiliation. During the 1960s, however, as the demand for greater variety in
post-secondary education rose sharply and enrolment mushroomed, systems of
publicly operated post-secondary non-university institutions began to develop.

Today in Canada, some 200 technical institutes and community colleges complement
about 100 universities, attracting a total post-secondary enrolment of approximately
1 million. Student fees, owing to substantial government subsidies, account for only
about 11% of the cost of Canadian post-secondary education.
Canada’s universities are internationally known for the quality of their teaching and
research. Examples include the neurological breakthroughs of Wilder Penfield at
McGill University and the discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto by
Frederick Banting, C.H. Best, J.J.R. Macleod, and J.B. Collip. Full-time enrolment
in Canadian universities stands at over half a million, with enrolments at individual
institutions ranging from less than a 1,000 to over 35,000. Women are well
represented in the universities: they receive more than half of all degrees conferred.
Canada’s school system: a national asset
The Canadian belief in education is general and deep. And this belief is reflected in
a considerable financial commitment: Canada ranks among the world’s leaders in
per capita spending on public education. Canada maintains this level of investment
because it continues to generate healthy returns. Almost everywhere, the quality of
education is directly related to the quality of life. In Canada, the high educational
level (almost half the population over the age of 15 now has some post-secondary
schooling) has proven to be a powerful contributor to the country’s favourable
standard of living, its growth of opportunity, and its reputation as a place where
intellectual accomplishment is fostered and profitably pursued.
Canada’s Landmass
Canada is the world’s second-largest country (9 970 610 km2), surpassed only by the
Russian Federation.
Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.
Provinces and Territories
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city (in
brackets): Alberta (Edmonton); British Columbia (Victoria); Prince Edward Island
(Charlottetown); Manitoba (Winnipeg); New Brunswick (Fredericton); Nova Scotia
(Halifax); Nunavut (Iqaluit); Ontario (Toronto); Quebec (Quebec City);
Saskatchewan (Regina); Newfoundland (St. John’s); Northwest Territories
(Yellowknife); and Yukon Territory (Whitehorse).
Diversity is the keynote of Canada’s geography, which includes fertile plains suitable
for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way
to Arctic tundra in the Far North.
There are many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the
permanently frozen icecaps north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant vegetation of
British Columbia’s west coast. Canada’s most populous regions, which lie in the
country’s south along the U.S. border, enjoy four distinct seasons. Here daytime
summer temperatures can rise to 35C and higher, while lows of -25C are not
uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall.
Parks and Historic Sites
Canada maintains 38 national parks, which cover about 2% of the country’s
landmass. Banff, located on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, is the
oldest (est. 1885); Tuktut Nogait, in the Northwest Territories, was established in
1996. There are 836 national historic sites, designated in honor of people, places and
events that figure in the country’s history. Canada also has over 1000 provincial
parks and nearly 50 territorial parks.
Mountain Ranges
Canada’s terrain incorporates a number of mountain ranges: the Torngats,
Appalachians and Laurentians in the east; the Rocky, Coastal and Mackenzie
ranges in the west; and Mount St. Elias and the Pelly Mountains in the north. At
6050 m, Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada’s tallest peak.
There are some two million lakes in Canada, covering about 7.6% of the Canadian
landmass. The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in Canada (many
large lakes are traversed by the Canada-U.S. border), are Huron, Great Bear,
Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario. The largest lake situated
entirely in Canada is Great Bear Lake (31 326 km2) in the Northwest Territories.
The St. Lawrence (3058 km long) is Canada’s most important river, providing a
seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The longest Canadian
river is the Mackenzie, which flows 4241 km through the Northwest Territories.

Other large watercourses include the Yukon and the Columbia (parts of which flow
through U.S. territory), the Nelson, the Churchill, and the Fraser–along with major
tributaries such as the Saskatchewan, the Peace, the Ottawa, the Athabasca, and the
Time Zones
Canada has six time zones. The easternmost, in Newfoundland, is three hours and
30 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The other time zones are the
Atlantic, the Eastern, the Central, the Rocky Mountain and, farthest west, the
Pacific, which is eight hours behind GMT.
Political System
Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a federal state with a democratic
parliament. The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, consists of the House of
Commons, whose members are elected, and the Senate, whose members are
appointed. On average, members of Parliament are elected every four years.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canada’s constitution contains a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which sets out
certain fundamental freedoms and rights that neither Parliament nor any provincial
legislature acting alone can change. These include equality rights, mobility rights,
and legal rights, together with freedoms such as speech, association, and peaceful
National Emblem
The maple leaf has been associated with Canada for some time: in 1868, it figured in
coats of arms granted to Ontario and Quebec; and in both world wars, it appeared
on regimental badges. Since the 1965 introduction of the Canadian flag, the maple
leaf has become the country’s most important symbol.
The Canadian Flag
Several people participated in designing the Canadian flag. Jacques St. Cyr
contributed the stylized maple leaf, George Bist the proportions, and Dr. Gunter
Wyszechi the colouration. The final determination of all aspects of the new flag was
made by a 15-member parliamentary committee, which is formally credited with the
design. After lengthy debate, the new flag was adopted by Parliament. It officially
became the national flag on February 15, 1965, now recognized as Canada’s Flag
National Anthem
O Canada was composed in 1880, with music by Calixa Lavalle and words by
Judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier. In 1908, Robert Stanley Weir wrote the translation
on which the present English lyric is based. On July 1, 1980, a century after being
sung for the first time, O Canada was proclaimed the national anthem.
The Canadian dollar is divided into 100 cents.
As of the summer of 1996, Canada’s population was over 30 million.
Main Cities
As of July 1, 1996, the leading Canadian cities are Toronto (4.44 million), Montreal
(3.36 million), Vancouver (1.89 million), Ottawa-Hull, the National Capital Region
(1.03 million).
Distribution of Population
A large majority of Canadians, 77 percent, live in cities and towns.
Family Size
At the time of the 1996 national census, the average family size was 3.1, including
1.2 children.
Living Standard
Canada ranks sixth in the world in standard of living (measured according to gross
domestic product per capita), behind only the United States, Switzerland,
Luxembourg, Germany, and Japan. Canada’s rank among nations tends to rise even
higher in assessments that consider GDP per capita along with other factors (e.g.,
life expectancy, education) that contribute to “quality of life.”
Health Care and Social Security
Basic health care, with the exception of dental services, is free at the point of
delivery. And prescription drugs are in most cases dispensed without charge to
people over 65 and social aid recipients. Canada also has an extensive social security
network, including an old age pension, a family allowance, unemployment insurance
and welfare.
Aboriginal Peoples
In 1996, about 3% of Canadians belonged to one or more of the three Aboriginal
groups recognized by the Constitution Act, 1982: North American Indian, Mtis, or
Inuit. Of this percentage, about 69% are North American Indian, 26% Mtis, and
5% Inuit.
According to the 1991 census, more than four-fifths of Canadians are Christian,
with Catholics accounting for about 47% of the population and Protestants about
36%. Other religions include Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism.

Some 12.5%, more than any single denomination except Roman Catholic, have no
religious affiliation at all.
Canada has two official languages: English, the mother tongue of about 59% of
Canadians; and French, the first language of 23% of the population. A full 18%
have either more than one mother tongue or a mother tongue other than English or
French, such as Chinese, Italian, German, Polish, Spanish, Portuguese, Punjabi,
Ukrainian, Arabic, Dutch, Tagalog, Greek, Vietnamese, Cree, Inuktitut, or other
The Official Languages Act makes French and English the official languages of
Canada and provides for special measures aimed at enhancing the vitality and
supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities.

Canada’s federal institutions reflect the equality of its two official languages by
offering bilingual services.
Ethnic Origin
In 1996, about 19% of the population reported “Canadian” as their single ethnic
origin, with 17% reporting British Isles-only ancestry and 9% French-only ancestry.

About 10% reported a combination of British Isles, French, or Canadian origin,
with another 16% reporting an ancestry of either British Isles, French or Canadian
in combination with some other origin. Some 28% reported origins other than the
British Isles, French or Canadian.
The educational system varies from province to province and includes six to eight
years of elementary school, four or five years of secondary school and three or four
years at the university undergraduate level. The 1996 census revealed that, among
Canadians aged 15 and over, about 23% had graduated from secondary school,
some 9% had bachelor’s degrees, and about 6% had advanced degrees.
Canada’s most popular sports include swimming, ice hockey, cross-country and
alpine skiing, baseball, tennis, basketball and golf. Ice hockey and lacrosse are
Canada’s national sports.
Main Natural Resources
The principal natural resources are natural gas, oil, gold, coal, copper, iron ore,
nickel, potash, uranium and zinc, along with wood and water.
Leading Industries
These include automobile manufacturing, pulp and paper, iron and steel work,
machinery and equipment manufacturing, mining, extraction of fossil fuels, forestry
and agriculture.
Canada’s leading exports are automobile vehicles and parts, machinery and
equipment, high-technology products, oil, natural gas, metals, and forest and farm
National Cultural Institutions: An Overview
CBC Since 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), one of the world’s
foremost public broadcasting organizations, has been helping Canadians to
appreciate their nation and understand the Canadian experience. It now operates
two core national television networks (one in English, the other in French); four
national radio networks (two French, two English); radio and television services for
the North in English, French, and eight aboriginal languages; two self-supporting
specialty cable television services (one English, one French); and an international
shortwave radio service that broadcasts in seven languages. Working under the
terms of the Broadcasting Act, the CBC provides a wide range of programming that
informs and entertains Canadians from coast to coast. Its public programming
enjoys a high level of approval: over half of adult Canadians listen to CBC radio
and about 9 out of 10 watch CBC television.
National Film Board Created in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is
a public agency that produces and distributes films and other audiovisual works
that reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world. The NFB is a centre of
filmmaking and video technology as well as a storehouse for an important part of
the country’s audiovisual heritage. Hailed over 3,000 times at major festivals, the
NFB has won nine Oscars for its productions and an honorary Oscar “in
recognition of its dedicated commitment to originate artistic, creative and
technological activity and excellence in every area of filmmaking.” Recent NFB
productions include documentaries, animation shorts, CD-ROMS and interactive
videos. NFB founder John Grierson wanted to establish a national cinema that
would “see Canada and see it whole: its people and its purpose.” This early
inspiration, through the work of the NFB, continues to consolidate the Canadian
character and give shape to the national dream.
Canada Council The Canada Council is an independent, arm’s-length organization
created by the Parliament of Canada in 1957 to “foster and promote the study and
enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.” To fulfill this mandate, the
Council offers a broad range of grants and services to professional Canadian artists
and arts organizations working in music, writing, publishing, dance, theatre, visual
arts and media arts. Each year, the Council awards some 4,200 grants in all
disciplines and some 10,700 payments to authors through the Public Lending Right
Commission. The Council also administers the Killam Program of scholarly awards
and prizes, and offers a number of other prestigious awards, including the Glenn
Gould Prize, the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prizes and the Governor
General’s Literary Awards. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO and the Public
Lending Right Commission also operate under its aegis.
Canadian Film Development Corporation (Telefilm Canada) Telefilm Canada, a
crown corporation, was created by Parliament in 1967. Telefilm’s role differs from
that of the National Film Board in that Telefilm is a funding agency rather than a
producer or distributor. It has financed some 600 feature films and 1,500 television
shows and series, helping to build what is now a multibillion-dollar Canadian
industry. Telefilm support has also allowed Canadian talent and culture to acquire
currency abroad: At international film festivals, works backed by Telefilm Canada
have won more than 1,600 prizes in some 35 countries. Of all who appreciate
Telefilm’s contribution, it is perhaps the audiovisual artists who best understand
what it has meant to Canadian culture. Filmmaker Denys Arcand (The Decline of
the American Empire) states the perspective from his province in words that hold
true from Newfoundland to British Columbia: “The existence of Telefilm
determined the existence of a Quebec film industry. Once again, in a province such
as Quebec, if there is no Telefilm, there is no film.”
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) SSHRC is
Canada’s federal funding agency for university-based research and graduate
training in the social sciences and humanities. Created as an independent body in
1977, SSHRC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Industry. SSHRC
contributes to Canada’s social and economic development through funding for
research and training in fields such as health care, social and legal issues, culture
and heritage, economics, and the environment. This research, besides being of
academic interest, furnishes an important part of the practical knowledge required
for sound decisions in matters affecting our standard of living and quality of life.
National Gallery of Canada Founded in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada holds
the country’s foremost collection of Canadian and European art. The present gallery
building, located on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, is a formidable work of art in its own
right–a magnificent structure of rose granite, towering glass, and steel enclosing
over 30,000 square metres of balanced space and light. The National Gallery has
always devoted itself to making Canadian art better known, sending exhibitions to
museums across Canada and around the world. The Gallery’s permanent collections
of Canadian, Inuit, European, American, Asian, and contemporary art, together
with its special exhibitions and creative programming, give the Canadian public
wide access to art of an exceptional range and quality.
Canadian Museum of Civilization The Canadian Museum of Civilization, located
across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill, is one of the most distinguished and
best equipped museums in the world. Designed by Douglas Cardinal and opened in
1989, the building is notable for its rare combination of massiveness and sweep,
which serves to bring the structure into accord with both its riverbank surroundings
and the flow of time depicted in its interior. With an archaeological collection dating
from 1842, and a tradition of anthropological research going back to 1910, the
Museum is an established centre for the study of human life in Canada. Activities
are based on four general areas of research: archaeology, ethnology, folklore, and
history. Now the nation’s largest and most popular museum, the Canadian Museum
of Civilization attracts over 1.3 million visitors a year.
Canadian War Museum Established in 1880, the Canadian War Museum is located
in Ottawa at 330 Sussex Drive, next door to the National Gallery. It houses
permanent and temporary exhibits about Canada’s accomplishments in war and
peacekeeping. Artifacts of all types and periods illustrate Canada’s past military
activities, from its days as a French colony to its modern missions in peacekeeping.

Life-size dioramas, displays, and a magnificent collection of war art allow visitors to
experience a part of Canada’s military history. The museum reveals, in a way that
words alone cannot, how Canadians fought and how the fighting affected Canada.

More important, it stands as a memorial, and a tribute, to all Canadians who served
in war and peacekeeping.
National Library of Canada The National Library of Canada, at 395 Wellington
Street in Ottawa, is home to Canada’s published heritage. The National Library’s
main role is to acquire, preserve, and promote the world’s most comprehensive
collection of Canadiana for all Canadians, now and in years to come. The Library
holds materials such as books, periodicals, sound recordings, manuscripts, and
electronic documents. Founded in 1953 as a department of the federal government,
the Library now contains some three million items. Notable strengths include
Canadian music, newspapers, and official government publications. The Library is
also a leading centre for Canadian rare books, city directories, literary manuscripts,
and literature for children and for adults.
National Archives of Canada Founded in 1872, the National Archives of Canada
today contains millions of records that bring the past to life, including texts,
photographs, films, maps, videos, books, paintings, prints, and government files.

The National Archives acts as the collective memory of the nation, preserving an
essential part of Canada’s heritage and making it available to the public through a
variety of means–publications, exhibitions, special events, and reference and
researcher services. Public records also provide much of the evidence required to
uphold rights, substantiate claims, and maintain justice. The National Archives is
located at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.
National Arts Centre (NAC) The National Arts Centre, located on the banks of
Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, is Canada’s leading bicultural theatre for the performing
arts. Designed by Fred Lebensold, the triple-hexagon building contains three superb
performance halls–the Opera, the Theatre, and the Studio–which together give the
NAC a seating capacity of over 3600. By consistently encouraging artistic excellence,
diversity, and youth, the National Arts Centre has helped to shape the careers of
countless Canadian artists. The National Arts Centre gives the public year-round
access to arts and entertainment, offering complete seasons of dance, English and
French theatre, music and variety. Prominent attractions include Festival Canada, a
summer celebration of the performing arts; and the National Arts Centre Orchestra,
one of the finest ensembles of its kind in the world.

Canada and the World
International Public Opinion
In 1997, a team of professional survey research firms under the supervision of the
Angus Reid Group polled 5,700 adults living in 20 countries (including Canada).

The poll, which was conducted in 24 different languages, offers insight into the
attitudes of people around the world toward Canada, and the views of Canadians
themselves. This “snapshot” of international public opinion shows that Canada is
held in very high regard indeed! Highlights of this public opinion survey include the
Canada on the Top-Ten List
Participants in 20 countries were asked to list their choices of countries to live in,
after their own. A sizable majority in all 20 countries put Canada on their top-ten
list of places in which to live. Residents of France, the United States and the United
Kingdom–countries with whom Canada maintains very strong political, cultural
and trading relationships–are particularly impressed with our quality of life. In
fact, Canada was the number one choice of people in the United States and France
as the country they would most like to live in after their own.
These results reflect the findings of the 1995, 1996 and 1997 United Nations Human
Development Report, which stated that Canada’s overall quality of life makes it the
best country in the world in which to live.
Canadians also express contentment with their country and their quality of life.

Overwhelming numbers of Canadians (nine of every ten surveyed) ranked Canada
as one of the three best places to live. The degree of personal freedom Canadians
enjoy, health care, the environment and the peaceful nature of our country are
considered key ingredients in their quality of life.
Canada: What the World Likes … and Doesn’t Like
Canada is best known abroad for its natural beauty. For many people in other
countries, Canada is wide-open spaces, mountains, trees and lakes. They are also
viewed favourably for being environmentally responsible.
In all countries, the vast majority of people polled consider Canadians to be honest,
friendly, polite, well-educated, interesting and healthy.
Throughout the world, they are known as a modern, progressive nation with an
open and generous society, a country in which all people have the opportunity to
grow and develop in their own way, and a country that upholds its international
As for what the world doesn’t like about Canada, the first thing to be noted is that
in half the countries surveyed the majority of respondents couldn’t think of a single
bad thing to say about Canada. But among those who did find something of
concern, one issue was a standout: their climate! The French, the British, the
Australians and the Chileans all registered this concern.
Respecting Diversity
Canadians are proud and appreciative of our cultural diversity. Throughout the
world, they are regarded as a nation that respects the contributions and
individuality of different cultures. In fact, Canada’s deserved reputation for warmth
to all peoples is considered an important part of our country’s international
Caring For and Helping Others
Canada has an excellent reputation for compassion towards its own citizens and also
for the ways in which we help countries in need.
Many of the people surveyed, and Canadians in particular, think our healthcare
system is among the best in the world. We are also admired for our generous
network of social assistance programs
In 15 of the 20 countries surveyed, majorities agreed that Canada plays a
“substantial role” in world peacekeeping efforts. Our continental neighbours in
Central and South America offered high praise in this regard, as did those polled in
the United States.
Canada has a solid reputation for generosity in providing aid to poorer countries. A
majority of Canadians think we are better than other well-to-do countries at
providing aid and assistance to developing countries. In more than half of the other
19 countries there was majority support for the view that Canada is more generous
than other developed countries.

Ethnic and Racial Diversity in Canada
Multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society. Our society
has always been pluralist and diverse and is bound to become even more so. Already
approximately two-fifths of the Canadian population has one origin other than
British, French or Aboriginal.
What is Multiculturalism?
In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt a multiculturalism
policy. In 1986 the government passed the Employment Equity Act and in 1988 it
passed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act.
Founded on a long tradition of Canadian human rights legislation, the
Multiculturalism Policy affirms that Canada recognizes and values its rich ethnic
and racial diversity. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act gives specific direction to
the federal government to work toward achieving equality in the economic, social,
cultural and political life of the country. Through its multiculturalism policy, the
government wants to help build a more inclusive society based on respect, equality
and the full participation of all citizens, regardless of race, ethnic origin, language or
In a recent report of the UNESCO World Commission on Culture and Development,
Canada’s approach to multiculturalism was cited as a model for other countries.

Canada is recognized today as a world leader in this field.
The Federal Government’s Multiculturalism Program
In 1997, the department of Canadian Heritage restructured the federal
Multicultural Program. The renewed program works towards three main goals:
Identity. Fostering a society in which people of all backgrounds feel a sense of
belonging and attachment to Canada
Civic Participation. Developing citizens that are actively involved in shaping the
future of their various communities and their country
Social Justice. Building a nation that ensures fair and equitable treatment and that
respects and accommodates people of all origins
Campaigns and Promotional Activities
Promotional activities seek to improve public understanding of multiculturalism and
racism and to encourage informed public dialogue and action on issues related to
ethnic and racial diversity in Canada.
March 21 Campaign: “Racism: Stop It!”
The March 21 Campaign is at the heart of the Multiculturalism Program’s
activities. This nationwide campaign is intended to make the public aware of the
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The March 21
campaign features a broad range of activities throughout the country, involving
community groups, schools, school boards, colleges, universities, private companies,
parliamentarians and media.
The Mathieu Da Costa Awards
In 1996, the Multiculturalism Program established the Mathieu Da Costa Awards as
part of Parliament’s official designation of February as Black History Month. This
program encourages intercultural understanding and provides an excellent vehicle
by which youth can develop an appreciation of the diversity and shared experiences
that form the Canadian identity.
Multiculturalism in the Media
The Broadcasting Act, passed in 1991, affirms that the Canadian broadcasting
system should, through its programming and the employment opportunities it
creates, serve the needs of a diverse society and reflect the multicultural and
multiracial nature of Canada.
The ‘mainstream’ media is slowly coming to reflect the diverse nature of the
country. Successful television programs such as North of 60, Degrassi Junior High,
Jasmine and Ces enfants d’ailleurs are eloquent examples of this trend. The
Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television has a special Gemini award, called
“The Canada Award/Prix Gmeaux du multiculturalisme,” which is sponsored by
the Multiculturalism Program. It honours excellence in mainstream television
programming that best reflects the cultural diversity of Canada.
Ethnic radio and television broadcasting is also thriving in Canada. Nine radio
stations in five cities devote much of their programming to specific ethnic groups,
notably the Italian, Ukrainian, German, Greek, Portuguese and Chinese
communities. Toronto has a full-time ethnic television station which is available
throughout Ontario. Three ethnic specialty television services are licensed, and more
than 60 radio stations include ethnic broadcasting in their schedules. Numerous
cable companies carry programming in a variety of languages on community
In the print media, ethnic newspapers have flourished across Canada for more than
80 years. In Toronto alone, there are more than 100 daily, weekly, monthly or
quarterly ethnic-language publications. More than 40 cultures are represented in
Canada’s ethnic press; many of these publications are national in scope, such as the
Chinese version of Maclean’s magazine.
Multiculturalism and Business
Canada’s diversity is increasingly recognized as an asset in both the domestic and
the international market, and as a major contributor to Canadian economic
The Conference Board of Canada has worked with other business, industry and
trade associations to identify new ways for Canadian organizations to use Canada’s
linguistic and cultural diversity to their advantage at home and abroad. Also, the
Business Development Bank of Canada consults regularly with ethnocultural
business associations in major centres.
Canada’s multicultural nature will become even more of an asset in the emerging
global economy. Canadian companies already recognize the benefits and are
drawing on the cultural diversity of our work force to obtain the language and
cultural skills needed to compete successfully in international markets.
The Arts
Throughout the world, Canada is respected for its achievements in the arts. In
music, dance, literature, theatre, cinema and visual arts Canadians are held in high
The talents of Canadian musicians can be heard in all types of music.
Bryan Adams, Cline Dion, Sarah McLachlan, Leonard Cohen, Roch Voisine and
Daniel Lavoie are popular with rock fans all over the world. The group Kashtin has
added Montagnais to the list of languages in which Canadians songwriters and
performers can become famous.
Three large Canadian ballet companies perform on the international circuit: the
Royal Winnipeg Ballet; the Grands Ballets Canadiens; and the National Ballet of
Canada. They have been the home base and stepping stone to international careers
for dancers such as Karen Kain and Evelyn Hart.
Fans of modern dance throughout the world are delighted by the performances of
Canadian troupes that include: La La La Human Steps; the Toronto Dance
Theatre; the Desrosiers Dance Theatre; and O Vertigo.
Every year, a growing number of independent choreographers and dancers mount
performances in Canada and abroad. Among this group of more than 150 are
Margie Gillis, Marie Chouinard, Ginette Laurin, Judith Marcuse, Peggy Baker and
Jean-Pierre Perrault.
Canadian literature tells the story of Canada, in all its richness and diversity.
Canadian novelists, essayists, playwrights and poets such as Gabrielle Roy, Jacques
Ferron, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Anne Hbert, Yves
Beauchemin, Arlette Cousture, Michel Tremblay, Jacques Godbout, Hubert Aquin,
Gaston Miron, Northrop Frye, Michael Ondaatje, Nancy Huston, Tomson Highway
and Mordecai Richler have given voice to the deepest thoughts and feelings of
If all the world is a stage, Canada’s role on that stage is prominent and much
admired. The compelling nature and high quality of Canadian theatre is recognized
internationally. The Shaw and Stratford Theatre festivals are well known abroad.

Quebec theatre has become increasingly popular both at home and abroad in recent
years, thanks in good measure to the plays of Michel Tremblay, which have now
been translated into more than 20 languages.
Canadian theatre is distinguished by its innovative spirit and search for new forms.

Companies such as Carbone 14, UBU and One yellow Rabbit tour the world and
receive critical acclaim wherever they go. Others, like Green Thumb, Les Deux
Mondes and Mermaid have channelled their energies into creating outstanding
children’s theatre.
The Cirque du Soleil has been revolutionizing entertainment under its yellow and
blue big top since 1984. Millions of people around the world have marvelled at its
spectacular productions, which blend theatre, acrobatics and music.
Canadian cinema is known throughout the world for its universality and relevance.
International acclaim has been received by filmmaker David Cronenberg for his
film, Naked Lunch; by Denys Arcand for his films, Decline of the American Empire
and Jesus of Montreal; by Atom Egoyan for The Sweet Hereafter; by producer La
Pool for Anne Trister; and by the late Jean-Claude Lauzon for Lolo and Night Zoo.
The National Film Board (NFB), and Norman McLaren, in particular, have
established Canada as an artistic force in the field of animation. The NFB has been
nominated for 61 Oscars and has won 10. Frederick Back’s 1987 Oscar-winning
animated work, The Man Who Planted Trees, is a brilliant continuation of this
tradition. Computer-image animation is now providing fertile ground for the
imaginations and talents of Canadian artists in this field.
Visual Arts
From the landscapes of Cornelius Krieghoff and the portraits of Thophile Hamel to
the multidisciplinary works of Michael Snow and the hyperrealism of Alex Colville,
the tradition of visual arts in Canada is rich and varied.
Think of sports in Canada and you’ll likely think of hockey. Some of the world’s
best-known hockey players are Canadian. And hockey is by far Canada’s favourite
spectator sport and one of its most widely played recreational sports.
But ask young Canadians to list their favourite sports activities and a much broader
picture emerges. Those aged 13 to 24 cite swimming, downhill and cross-country
skiing, soccer, baseball, tennis and basketball. Canadians view sports as an integral
part of a well-rounded, healthy life.
Sports on Ice and Snow
More than 450,000 youngsters participate in organized hockey leagues. Many more
play on streets, lakes and outdoor rinks and even dream of joining the National
Hockey League (NHL).
The majority of the NHL players are Canadian and Canadians have fared extremely
well in international amateur hockey competition: the Men’s Junior National Team
has won five consecutive World Junior Championships; the Men’s National Team
captured silver medals in the 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympic Games; and the
Women’s National Team has won every world championship played to date (1990,
1992, 1994, 1997), as well as the silver medal in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games.

Canada’s Paralympic sledge hockey team won the silver at the 1998 Paralympic
Games in Nagano.
Skiing is a sport that has captured the hearts of Canadians. The country boasts
hundreds of ski areas, including world-renowned resorts in Banff, Alberta, and
Whistler, British Columbia, as well as an abundance of cross-country ski trails. In
international competition, Canadian skiers have excelled on the World Cup circuit
and at the Winter Olympic Games. Canada’s Paralympians are champions on the
slopes. At the 1998 Paralympics in Nagano, Dan Wesley put together a top-flight
performance, winning gold in the men’s super G for sit skiers, and taking a bronze
in downhill.
Sports Variety
A variety of warm-weather sports are played in Canada. These include swimming,
sailing, windsurfing, rowing, track and field, tennis, football, soccer, rugby, field
hockey and golf.
Swimming is not only one of the most popular recreational sports in Canada, it is
also a powerhouse event for Canadian athletes in international competition.

Canadians have won more than 50 Olympic medals in swimming events since the
1912 Summer Games in Stockholm and have held numerous world records.

Canada’s swim team ended the 1998 World Cup short-course season in spectacular
fashion, winning eight medals including a gold for Jessica Deglau of Vancouver in
the women’s 200 m butterfly.
Canada has also been a world leader in synchronized swimming since the sport
began more than 50 years ago. Synchronized swimming reached full medal status at
the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, where Carolyn Waldo won two gold medals for
Canada. At the Barcelona games in 1992, Sylvie Frchette was awarded the gold,
while the duo of Penny and Vicky Vilagos captured the silver. At the Atlanta Games
in 1996, the Canadian team won a silver medal.
Rowing has also enjoyed a recent upsurge in popularity in Canada following
tremendous success on the international circuit. Canada won four gold and one
bronze in rowing at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games, and followed up in the
1996 Atlanta Summer Games by winning six medals.
Soccer, the world’s most popular sport, is now entrenched in Canada with a large
base of young competitors and a professional league.
The sport of basketball, invented by Canadian James Naismith, is also very popular
in Canada, with almost 650,000 participants. In addition, the sport of wheelchair
basketball is one of the most popular sports for athletes with a disability. The
Canadian Women’s Team is the reigning World and Paralympic champion.
In terms of spectator appeal, professional baseball and football rank with hockey at
the top of the list. The annual Grey Cup game is traditionally one of the most
watched sports events in Canada.
Major-league baseball teams in Montreal and Toronto attract millions of spectators
every season. In 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays became the first team outside the
United States to win the World Series. The Blue Jays added to their fame by
winning the World Series again in 1993. Baseball and softball are popular
recreational sports in Canada, with countless local teams and leagues in operation in
the summer and autumn.
The Department of Canadian Heritage, through Sport Canada, provides funding
and support to high-performance sporting excellence and fairness in sport. It
contributes to the hosting of amateur competitions–international, national and
interprovincial. It works with partners to support Canadian athletes and to link
sport organizations at the community, provincial and national levels.
International Role
With more than 60 national teams participating in international competition,
Canada has a wealth of technical and administrative sport expertise that it shares
with other countries through various programs and exchanges.
Canada has hosted almost every major international sports competition: the
Summer and Winter Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Pan-American Games,
World University Games, and Special Olympics. The 1999 Pan-American Games
will be taking place in Winnipeg. In 2001, Canada will host its first Jeux de la
Francophonie in Ottawa-Hull.
The Future
Nothing unites Canadians like sport. Over 9 million Canadians participate regularly
in one or more sports at some level. More than anything else, sport reflects what
Canadians value most: the pursuit of excellence, fairness and ethics, inclusion, and
participation. Canada also supports international events because during such events
the whole world becomes a global village, united in its love of sport and in its
appreciation for the excellence of all athletes.
The federal government recently announced additional funding for sport of $10
million a year over five years. These funds will directly support high-perfomance
athletes, employ additional full-time coaches, and provide additional opportunities
for athletes to train and compete.
Our National Anthem
O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love
in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts
we see thee rise,
The True North
strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada,
We stand on guard
for thee.

God keep our land
glorious and free!
O Canada,
we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada,
we stand on guard for thee.
“O CANADA” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem on July 1, 1980, a
century after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. The music was composed by Calixa
Lavalle, a well-known composer; French lyrics to accompany the music were
written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The song gained steadily in popularity.

Many English versions have appeared over the years. The version on which the
official English lyrics are based was written in 1908 by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley
Weir. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a
Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons. The French lyrics
remain unaltered.

French Language and Identity: A Vibrant Presence
According to the 1991 census, French is the mother tongue of 82 percent of Quebec’s
population and is spoken at home by 83 percent of Quebeckers. More than a million
Francophones live outside Quebec.

French is spoken by 8.5 million people in Canada, 25 percent of whom live outside
Quebec. Of this number, 6.6 million have French as their mother tongue.

More and more children are learning French in schools throughout Canada:
enrolment in French immersion programs jumped from 40 000 in 1978 to some 313
000 in 1996.

In 1995, 2.7 million young people (54 percent of students) were studying French or
English as a second language, an increase of 10 percent in 25 years.

According to the 1991 Statistics Canada census, the level of bilingualism among
young Canadians aged 15 to 25 has risen from 16 percent to 23 percent in a single
decade. Young Canadians in this age group are the most bilingual generation in our
nation’s history.

Internationally, it is estimated that some 800 million people speak English and 250
million speak French. As well, La Francophonie makes up 18 percent of the world
economy and accounts for more than $100 billion in trade annually. Clearly, a
knowledge of both languages provides a competitive edge in the battle to conquer
new markets. As a bilingual nation, Canada has that edge.

The Official Languages Act makes French and English the official languages of
Canada and provides for special measures aimed at enhancing the vitality and
supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities.

Canada’s federal institutions must reflect the equality of its two official languages by
offering bilingual services.

The Constitution Act of 1982 makes French and English the official languages of
Canada; the two languages have equal status in terms of their use in all the
institutions of the Government of Canada.

The Socit Radio-Canada (the French-language division of the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation) broadcasts programs in French across the country. In
addition, since January, 1995 the Rseau de l’information (RDI) has been
broadcasting French-language television news and public affairs programs 24 hours
a day. Its objective is to ensure a French current affairs presence throughout the

The Government of Canada supports a group of television networks from Quebec
and across Canada as part of an international Francophone broadcasting
consortium known as TV5. Today, the Government of Canada contributes $4
million annually so that TV5 can continue to provide high-quality domestic and
international Francophone broadcasting for Canadians.

Aboriginal peoples are thought to have arrived from Asia thousands of years ago by
way of a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. Some of them settled in Canada,
while others chose to continue to the south. When the European explorers arrived,
Canada was populated by a diverse range of Aboriginal peoples who, depending on
the environment, lived nomadic or settled lifestyles, were hunters, fishermen or
First contacts between the native peoples and Europeans probably occurred about
1000 years ago when Icelandic Norsemen settled for a brief time on the island of
Newfoundland. But it would be another 600 years before European exploration
began in earnest.
First Colonial Outposts
Seeking a new route to the rich markets of the Orient, French and British explorers
plied the waters of North America. They constructed a number of posts — the
French mostly along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi
River; the British around Hudson Bay and along the Atlantic coast. Although
explorers such as Cabot, Cartier and Champlain never found a route to China and
India, they found something just as valuable — rich fishing grounds and teeming
populations of beaver, fox and bear, all of which were valued for their fur.
Permanent French and British settlement began in the early 1600s and increased
throughout the century. With settlement came economic activity, but the colonies of
New France and New England remained economically dependent on the fur trade
and politically and militarily dependent on their mother countries.
Inevitably, North America became the focal point for the bitter rivalry between
England and France. After the fall of Quebec City in 1759, the Treaty of Paris
assigned all French territory east of the Mississippi to Britain, except for the islands
of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the island of Newfoundland.
Under British rule, the 65 000 French-speaking inhabitants of Canada had a single
aim — to retain their traditions, language and culture. Britain passed the Quebec
Act (1774), which granted official recognition to French civil laws and guaranteed
religious and linguistic freedoms.
Large numbers of English-speaking colonists, called Loyalists because they wished
to remain faithful to the British Empire, sought refuge in Canada after the United
States of America won its independence in 1776. They settled mainly in the colonies
of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and along the Great Lakes.
The increase in population led to the creation in 1791 of Upper Canada (now
Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). Both were granted their own representative
governing institutions. Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in 1837 and 1838
prompted the British to join the two colonies, forming the united Province of
Canada. In 1848 the joint colony was granted responsible government except in
matters of foreign affairs. Canada gained a further measure of autonomy but
remained part of the British Empire.
A Country Is Born
Britain’s North American colonies — Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince
Edward Island and Newfoundland — grew and prospered independently. But with
the emergence of a more powerful United States after the American Civil War, some
politicians felt a union of the British colonies was the only way to fend off eventual
annexation. On July 1, 1867, Canada East, Canada West, Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick joined together under the terms of the British North America Act to
become the Dominion of Canada.
The government of the new country was based on the British parliamentary system,
with a Governor General (the Crown’s representative) and a Parliament consisting
of the House of Commons and the Senate. Parliament received the power to legislate
over matters of national interest (such as taxes and national defence), while the
provinces were given legislative powers over matters of “particular” interest (such
as property, civil rights and education).
Westward Expansion
Soon after Confederation, Canada expanded into the northwest. Rupert’s Land —
an area extending south and west for thousands of kilometres from Hudson Bay —
was purchased by Canada from the Hudson’s Bay Company, which had been
granted the vast territory by King Charles of England in 1670.
Westward expansion did not happen without stress. In 1869, Louis Riel led an
uprising of the Mtis in an attempt to defend their ancestral rights to the land. A
compromise was reached in 1870 and a new province, Manitoba, was carved from
Rupert’s Land.
British Columbia, already a Crown colony since 1858, decided to join the Dominion
in 1871 on the promise of a rail link with the rest of the country; Prince Edward
Island followed suit in 1873. In 1898, the northern territory of Yukon was officially
established to ensure Canadian jurisdiction over that area during the Klondike gold
rush. In 1905, two new provinces were carved from Rupert’s Land: Alberta and
Saskatchewan; the residual land became the Northwest Territories. Newfoundland
preferred to remain a British colony until 1949, when it became Canada’s 10th
The creation of new provinces coincided with an increase of immigration to Canada,
particularly to the west. Immigration peaked in 1913 with 400 000 coming to
Canada. During the prewar period, Canada profited from the prosperous world
economy and established itself as an industrial as well as an agricultural power.
A Nation Matures
Canada’s substantial role in the First World War won it representation distinct
from Britain in the League of Nations after the war. Its independent voice became
more and more pronounced, and in 1931 Canada’s constitutional autonomy from
Britain was confirmed with the passing of the Statute of Westminster. In Canada as
elsewhere, the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 brought hardship. As many as
one out of every four workers was without a job and the provinces of Alberta,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba were laid waste by drought. Ironically, it was the need
to supply the Allied armies during the Second World War that boosted Canada out
of the Depression.
Since World War II, Canada’s economy has continued to expand. This growth,
combined with government social programs such as family allowances, old-age
security, universal medicare and unemployment insurance has given Canadians a
high standard of living and desirable quality of life.
Noticeable changes have occurred in Canada’s immigration trends. Before World
War II, most immigrants came from the British Isles or eastern Europe. Since 1945,
increasing numbers of southern Europeans, Asians, South Americans and people
from the Caribbean islands have enriched Canada’s multicultural mosaic.
On the international scene, as the nation has developed and matured, so has its
reputation and influence. Canada has participated in the United Nations since its
inception and is the only nation to have taken part in all of the UN’s major
peacekeeping operations. It is also a member of the Commonwealth, la
Francophonie, the Group of Seven industrialized nations, the OAS (Organization of
American States) and the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) defence pact.
A New Federation in the Making
The last quarter of a century has seen Canadians grapple once more with
fundamental questions of national identity. Discontent among many
French-speaking Quebeckers led to a referendum in that province in 1980 on
whether Quebec should become more politically autonomous from Canada, but a
majority voted to maintain the status quo.
In 1982, the process toward major constitutional reform culminated in the signing of
the Constitution Act. Under this act, the British North America Act of 1867 and its
various amendments became the Constitution Act, 1867-1982. The Constitution, its
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its general amending formula redefined the
powers of governments, entrenched the equality of women and men, and advanced
the rights of individuals and ethnocultural groups.
Two major efforts were made to reform the constitutional system: the 1987 Meech
Lake Accord which was not implemented since it did not obtain the legislative
consent of all provinces and the 1991 Charlottetown Accord. The Charlottetown
Accord would have reformed the Senate and made major changes in the
Constitution. It was rejected in a national referendum held on October 26, 1992.
The Parliament of Canada has since passed a bill, on February 2, 1996,
guaranteeing Canada’s 5 major regions that no constitutional change concerning
them would be made without their unanimous consent. As well, less than a month
after the Quebec sovereignty referendum of October 30, 1995, the Parliament of
Canada passed a resolution recognizing Quebec as a distinct society within Canada.
Federal evolution is also underway in Canada’s North. On April 1, 1999, the
Northwest Territories was divided into two by Act of Parliament, creating a new 2
000 000 km2 territory called Nunavut (“our land” in Inuktitut, the Inuit language).
Women have a long history of active involvement in all aspects of Canadian life. In
1918, after a long struggle, they won the right to vote in federal elections. In 1929,
they helped overturn a previous court ruling that barred women from appointments
to the Senate on the grounds that they were not “persons” within the meaning of
the law.

There have been remarkable changes to society and to the lives of Canadian women
since then. In 1929, less than 4 percent of women worked outside the home; in 1991,
60 percent were in the labour force.

In previous generations, a typical Canadian family had a father as the only
breadwinner and a mother working unpaid in the home, looking after the children
and shouldering the responsibility for household tasks. In 1992, only 16 percent of
all Canadian families were still of this type. While the predominant family type is
now the dual-earner couple, with or without children, 16 percent of families are
headed by a lone female parent.

Perhaps the most remarkable change in recent years has been the increased number
of mothers who have young children and work outside their homes. A record 69
percent of mothers in two-parent families with children under age six are now in the
paid labour force, while 47 percent of lone parent mothers with young children are
in the same situation.

Not surprisingly, these rapid changes in family life have focussed attention on child
care and the balancing of work and family responsibilities. It is estimated that 60
percent of families with children younger than 13 need some supplemental child care
while the parents are at work. The federal government provides more than $1 billion
a year in support of child care through tax deductions and allowances. In the 1997
Budget, the Government of Canada allocated an additional $600 million in child
benefits for low income families.

All jurisdictions in Canada give women a statutory right to take maternity leave
without penalty, usually for a period of 17 weeks. An additional period of 24 weeks’
parental leave, which may be taken by either parent, is available to certain workers,
mostly in the federal public service, banks, and transportation and communications

While these rights are for unpaid leave, the Employment Insurance Program
provides 15 weeks of maternity benefits for mothers and 10 weeks of parental
benefits for natural or adoptive parents.

Women and The Economy
Women now account for 45 percent of the Canadian labour force, compared with 36
percent in 1975. In fact, women accounted for almost three-quarters of all growth in
employment between 1975 and 1991. However, women still tend to be concentrated
in lower-paying occupations. On the other hand, the number of women who are
employed in their own businesses has increased 172 percent since 1975. Women now
make up 30 percent of all self-employed persons in Canada.

A wage gap persists between women and men in the labour force: women working
full-time for a full year in 1993 earned, on average, 72 percent of what men earned.

Equal pay for work of equal value laws have been in place at the federal level for
more than a decade, and several provinces are also trying to integrate pay equity
legislation in their jurisdictions, to which most Canadian workers are subject. The
laws are based on an evaluation of jobs that takes into account the skill, effort and
responsibility required to do a job, and the conditions under which the work is

Employers with more than 100 employees and those who want to do business with
the federal government also fall under a program of employment equity. Employers
are required to report annually on their progress in integrating women and other
target groups into their workforces.

About one-quarter of employed women work part-time. In fact, 69 percent of all
part-time workers are women. There is a growing trend to part-time work in the
Canadian economy, particularly in the service sector, where the majority of women

Increasingly, in Canada as elsewhere, a “feminization of poverty” particularly
affects lone female parents and their children, as well as elderly women. Women
who head lone parent families are now among the poorest of the poor: almost 62
percent of families living in poverty are headed by lone female parents.

Poverty rates among the elderly have been declining, thanks to government
programs such as the Old Age Security benefit and the Guaranteed Income
Supplement. However, elderly women, especially those who have never been in the
labour force, still face economic challenges.

One of the keys to women’s economic equality is improved access for women and
girls to education and training opportunities. Of all women aged 15 and over, 40
percent have a high school diploma or better. Over 10 percent of women hold a
university degree. Women make up more than 53 percent of full-time
undergraduate students at Canadian universities. Federal, provincial and territorial
governments have been working together to eliminate sexual stereotyping in school
curricula, textbooks and career counselling. They also encourage greater
participation by women and girls in non-traditional disciplines such as mathematics,
science and technology.

Women and Government
Since 1985, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of Canada’s Constitution, has