(Toronto, ON) The results of a new nationwide survey are shedding light on public misconceptions about the disparity in high school dropout numbers across the country, and what the impact is on Canada’s economy.

The survey was commissioned by Pathways to Education Canada, a national charitable organization working to break the cycle of poverty through education across the country. Pathways conducted the poll recently with 2,000 Canadian adults. The results indicate most Canadians don’t realize how many young people still aren’t graduating from secondary school.

It’s a timely look at the issue as International Day of Education approaches on January 24.

For example, more than half the people polled believe there are fewer than 30,000 students in Canada at risk of dropping out of high school annually—when the number is ten times that at 300,000. This reflects the number of youth in Canada who are living in poverty and often face significant barriers to education that limit their chances of graduating from high school.

As a result, there are many low-income communities across the country where the number of young people between the ages of 20-24 who do not have a high school diploma is double or even triple the national average, and in some cases can reach as high as 50 per cent.

“This has to be a real wake-up call for Canadians,” says Pathways’ President and CEO Sue Gillespie. “It is difficult to truly address a major social challenge when most people don’t even realize one exists in their own towns and cities. Awareness is crucial to success, and this study clearly shows many people are in the dark on this issue.”

Gillespie says this isn’t just a social issue—it’s an economic one. Almost half (46 per cent) of people polled believed a minimal 1% increase in the graduation rate would save the Canadian economy $2.8 million a year. The actual savings would be an incredible $7.7 billion a year.

Pathways just completed a three-month awareness campaign and will continue to educate and inform in 2020.

For more information about the work Pathways to Education Canada is doing and how you can be part of the solution, please visit: www.pathwaystoeducation.ca


Colleen Ryan, Director of Marketing and Communications, Pathways to Education Canada

(416) 646-0123 x 503, [email protected]

Quick Facts

  • Pathways to Education was founded in 2001 and has supported more than 13,000 youth living in low-income communities through 20 program locations in eight provinces (B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia).
  • Pathways helps students realize their potential and graduate from high school by supporting them with academic, financial, social, and one-on-one support.
  • 71 per cent of Pathways students who have graduated from high school have transitioned to post-secondary education or training.
  • Graduation rates in low-income communities that Pathways to Education serves have improved by up to an average of 85 per cent.
  • Pathways to Education Program eligibility increases adult annual earnings by 19 per cent, increases the likelihood of being employed by 14 per cent, and lowers reliance social assistance receipt by more than a third (Source: Lavecchia, Oreopoulos, & Brown, 2019).
  • Every dollar invested in Pathways to Education creates a $24 social return on investment (Source: Boston Consulting Group).
  • The survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadian adults, from November 25 to 29, 2019. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.
  • The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.