Ontario increases financial support for Indigenous learners


Province expands Ontario Student Assistance Program at Indigenous institutes

TORONTO – The Ontario government is expanding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for eligible programs at Indigenous institutes, including one on Manitoulin, starting in the 2020-2021 academic year. This financial assistance will help ensure Indigenous learners have access to a culturally responsive and high-quality post-secondary education that will prepare them to meet local labour market needs.

The announcement was made January 22 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 post-secondary education system and this financial assistance will help Indigenous learners get the skills they need to succeed.” 

Among the nine institutes that are included in this OSAP expansion program is the Kenjgewin Teg. 

Previously, students attending Indigenous institutes could only receive OSAP if the programs were 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 approvals from the Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills Council.

“By investing in culturally responsive and high-quality post-secondary 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 post-secondary education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners. There is widespread agreement by Indigenous leaders, communities and education professionals that investing in culturally responsive post-secondary education opportunities for Indigenous learners will have tremendous benefits and reduce this gap.” 

“Indigenous institutes are a foundational pillar of Ontario’s post-secondary education system alongside colleges and universities,” said Rebecca Jamieson, acting chair, Indigenous Institutes Consortium (IIC). “IIC member institutes welcome the regulation changes 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.”