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February 27, 2008
For immediate release

Ministers of Education Initiate National Dialogue


Ministers of Education from across Canada met in Toronto and agreed to new initiatives to promote and enhance their key priorities: Aboriginal education, literacy, and post-secondary education capacity.

Aboriginal Education:

Ministers believe that eliminating the education gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples is an economic and moral necessity. To that end, ministers will host a summit in 2009 on improving Aboriginal achievement rates. “We are committed to ensuring that all people have access to quality education. In a global economy, we need every Canadian achieving his or her full potential,” stated the Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Chair of CMEC, and Minister of Education for New Brunswick. The event will bring together Aboriginal education stakeholders to explore ways of improving the educational success of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Ministers are committed to partnering with Aboriginal peoples to support their life-long learning. Ministers met with Phil Fontaine, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation and Vice-President of the Métis National Council and the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg to discuss the recent Aboriginal University Education Roundtable.

Literacy – More Than Words:

Ministers declare that every Canadian must have the opportunity to acquire the highest quality literacy skills to sustain them throughout life. Ministers furthered plans for Literacy – More Than Words, a national forum on improving Canada’s literacy rates. The forum will be held simultaneously in cities across Canada on April 14-15, 2008, and will take advantage of the latest technology to create a virtual community, where all participants will be able to listen to and interact with keynote speakers in real time. A first for Canada, the Forum’s unique structure and format will ensure that literacy becomes a national conversation. A number of high profile Canadians, including the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and the Honourable Frank McKenna, will be speaking at the event.

Post-secondary Education Capacity:

Ministers recognize the importance of post-secondary education in creating the highly skilled workforce needed for a vigorous, competitive knowledge-based economy. “It is essential for our economic well-being that we create more opportunities for Canadians to attend our post-secondary institutions,” said Minister Lamrock. Ministers recognize that the respective responsibilities and interests of provinces, territories, and the federal government converge in this area. They will continue to urge the federal government to increase its financial contribution to post-secondary education through fiscal transfer as stated by the premiers at the 2005 meeting of the Council of the Federation. Ministers agreed to develop a data and information strategy to further define the gaps between the skills Canadians will need in the future and the capacity of the post-secondary education system to deliver them.

Ministers call on the federal government to continue and enhance financial assistance for students.

Ministers will hold their next meeting in Fredericton, New Brunswick in fall 2008.

CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects in areas of mutual interest and concern.

For more information, see the Council of Ministers of Education website

Media Contact: Island Information Service
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