100th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)


HALIFAX, July 6, 2012 ― Provincial and territorial ministers of education  were in Halifax this week for the 100th meeting of their long-standing  intergovernmental body, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

Ministers used the  occasion of their 100th meeting to celebrate provincial and  territorial cooperation in education and to further discussions on current  challenges and opportunities related to the delivery of high‑quality education  in the 21st century.

Speaking at the close  of the meeting, the Honourable Ramona Jennex, Chair of CMEC and Minister of  Education for Nova Scotia, noted that the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces  and territories over education has favoured, and continues to favour, both high  achievement and high equity of outcomes among Canadian students. “Canada is in  a very advantageous position,” she said. “Our decentralized education systems  allow us to deliver education in a way that meets the different needs of very  diverse student populations in what is a vast and complex country. Our systems  are incubators of innovation and are able to adapt quickly and effectively to  the needs of 21st-century learners.”

Twenty-first century learning  was the defining theme of the Halifax meeting, where ministers exchanged on a  number of education-related topics.

Bullying: Safe Schools and a Culture of Respect  and Care

Ministers shared  information on anti-bullying initiatives in schools and strategies on how best  to ensure a safe, inclusive, and accepting environment for all students. Particular  attention was paid to the issue of cyberbullying and its negative effect on  student success and well-being, both in and outside the classroom. Ministers  discussed the importance of tackling the root causes of bullying so that every  student ― regardless of race,  ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, religion, gender, or gender  identity ― feels accepted at  school.  

“With advancements in communications  technologies, the environment in which teaching and learning occurs is changing  rapidly. Canada’s provinces and territories are already global leaders in  educational achievement and in equity, but there are always new challenges to  face. While each province and territory is working with its education community  in its own way to counter bullying, all ministers of education are united in  their commitment to ensuring that schools in Canada provide a safe and  welcoming environment for all students,” said the Chair of CMEC.

Ministers agreed to continue  to share best practices on bullying through CMEC’s national and international  networks to ensure that provincial and territorial education systems remain at  the forefront of work in this area.

Aboriginal Education: Moving forward

Aboriginal education  continued to feature prominently in discussions at CMEC. Ministers reiterated  their commitment to improving outcomes for Aboriginal learners through  individual provincial and territorial initiatives, in cooperation with local  stakeholders, and at the pan-Canadian level, through CMEC.

Ministers were pleased  to welcome the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Justice Sinclair provided ministers with  an update on the important work of the commission.

“On behalf of all my  colleagues at CMEC, I want to thank Justice Sinclair for the important work he  and his colleagues are doing in the service of equity and justice for  Aboriginal peoples,” said the Honourable Jackson Lafferty, Minister of  Education, Culture and Employment for Northwest Territories.

It was noted that  provinces and territories are looking forward to discussions with the federal  government on Aboriginal education, including discussions on the measures  announced in the recent federal budget.

Education in the 21st century:  Challenges and Opportunities

Ministers recognize  that education and postsecondary systems and institutions must adapt to a  rapidly changing environment, to equip students with the skills and training  needed for an increasingly demanding labour market and to support citizens in  the face of evolving social, economic, and environmental challenges.

In keeping with the  role of CMEC as a forum for sharing information on innovative policy and  practice in education, ministers discussed a variety of issues, including: the  diverse needs of the 21st century inclusive classroom, the role of  the teaching profession in the provision of public education, innovative postsecondary  education systems, and open-education resources (OER).

Ministers  recognized the value of these exchanges at a pan-Canadian level and agreed to  use existing CMEC networks to ensure that provinces and territories remain at  the forefront of global trends related to innovative policies and practices,  notably those related to the delivery of postsecondary education.

With  regard to OER, ministers reaffirmed their commitment to open access to  knowledge and education and to the need to adapt teaching and learning practices  to the new realities of the information age. They agreed that there was an  urgent need for provinces and territories to explore how to take advantage of  the opportunities provided by new communications technologies in order to  improve the availability of learning opportunities and materials at all levels  of education and for all learners.

International Education: Representing Canada

As Canada’s voice for  education, CMEC plays a leadership role on the world stage. Ministers shared  the lessons they had learned through representing Canada at recent  international meetings of education ministers, including meetings hosted by  OECD, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Asia-Pacific Economic  Cooperation (APEC) body. They also discussed the importance of engaging their  counterparts from other countries to ensure that the experiences of provinces  and territories in education are shared and that the performance of Canadian  students can be benchmarked against international standards. Ministers reiterated  the importance of respecting the understandings concluded between CMEC and the  federal government on Canada's participation at international meetings to  ensure participation is optimal.

Ministers also focused  on their continuing efforts to promote international student mobility and  ensure that Canada remains a preferred destination for students from abroad,  including their collective efforts to implement the recommendations of the  International Education Marketing Action Plan, published last summer by the  Council of the Federation.  

Provincial and  territorial ministers repeated their invitation to federal ministers to discuss  with them how efforts in the areas of international trade, foreign affairs, and  immigration could support provinces and territories in the implementation of the  action plan, with each partner drawing from their respective sphere of  jurisdiction and expertise.

“International  education is about sharing with and learning from the rest of world,” said Minister  Jennex. “We look forward to working with the federal government, through CMEC,  to make Canada a destination of choice for international students and to ensure  that young Canadians have increasing opportunity to study abroad.”

Early Childhood Learning and Development: Beginning  the Journey of Lifelong Learning

While in Halifax, ministers  discussed the recent experience of provinces and territories in bringing  together early childhood learning and development to create a seamless continuum  of learning from the early years through to formal public schooling. Ministers  also recognized the importance of engaging children through purposeful  play-based learning as a means to achieving quality outcomes for early  learners.

Provinces and  territories will continue to exercise their collective leadership in early  learning by working with their partners across sectors, both in Canada and  internationally, so that all children have access to high-quality learning  experiences in their formative years.

About CMEC

Founded  in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada’s ministers of education. It  provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels  and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and  territories over education. For more information, visit us at www.cmec.ca.

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Colin Bailey
Director,  Communications
Cell: 416-929-6970
Tel.: 416-962-8100,  ext. 259
E-mail: c.bailey@cmec.ca