The Opposition New Democrats say the Advocate for Children and Youth Annual Report tabled Tuesday underscores the unacceptable gap in graduation rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Corey O’Soup says graduation rates for Indigenous children last year was 42.3 per cent, up just over one per cent from 2016. Non-Indigenous graduation rates in 2017 was over 85 per cent.

The NDP have criticized the government for slashing the education budget in 2017 by $54 million, only to see the government ante up and additional $30 million this year.

MLA Trent Wotherspoon says the provincial government needs to address the underfunding of on-reserve education.

“We know we have the disparity with underfunding of on-reserve education, it has to be addressed,” stated Wotherspoon.

Tim Caleval with the Ministry of Education says progress is being made to close the graduation gap, pointing to new education initiatives and First Nations partnerships.

O’Soup recognizes there are jurisdictional issues between the province and Ottawa on funding on-reserve education. He recommends the government partners with First Nations to lobby the federal government for better on-reserve education money.

(PHOTO: Trent Wotherspoon. Photo courtesy of