Each year, thousands of Canadian youth will drop out of high school. This seemingly simple and personal act alters the course of their lives forever. It’s a move that costs them their education and future earning potential. Taken collectively, it costs their community by ingraining a culture of failure. Nationally, it costs our economy through a reduced employment pool and tax base, and an enormous strain on public expenditures.

Tens of thousands of youth in Canada’s lower-income neighbourhoods have the potential to succeed in school but are unable to overcome the barriers to education that are created by poverty. Insufficient financial means, lack of positive role models in the community, absence of parental support, and integration into a new country and culture, are just some of the barriers that can make high school graduation seem like an impossible dream.

The problem is big and it is real.

While Canada’s provincial high school dropout rates range between 25 – 30%, in affluent communities, that number decreases to 6 – 11%. 

In low-income communities, where residents are more likely to be immigrants, Aboriginal or single-parent families, the rate can soar higher than 70%.

Research confirms that high school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, tend to commit more crime, have higher incidents of illness and drug use, and tend to rely more on social assistance.

What does it cost to leave entire communities of youth behind?

  • $307 billion – the estimated collective lifetime loss of earning potential of high school dropouts in Canada
  • $115 billion – the estimated collective loss of tax revenue from high school dropouts in Canada
  • $623 billion – the estimated collective private costs of health care over a lifetime for high school dropouts in Canada

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