Located in the heart of Canada and bordering the Great Lakes, Ontario is the country's second-largest province. Together, its location and size give it a unique combination of natural resources and urban centers. To the north, Ontario is largely rural and heavily forested. Meanwhile, the southern section of the province, particularly the southeast, serves as the population base. The provincial government reports two of every five Canadians live in Ontario with 85 percent of those located in the southern cities, many of which dot the shorelines of the Great Lakes. The federal capital of Ottawa is located in Ontario, while the provincial capital is Toronto. Other cities of note include Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, London and Windsor.
Schools in Ontario are an instrumental part of creating a workforce ready to fill jobs in key emerging sectors. From colleges in Toronto to universities providing online education, these institutions provide degrees, diplomas and certificates to students in Ontario and beyond.
Ontario's economy on the move
Although manufacturing has long been an important part of the Ontario economy, the sector has languished since the recession. In its place, a robust service sector appears to be emerging. The Ontario government indicates nearly 50 percent of all high tech and financial services jobs in Canada can be found within its borders.
As the province continues to adapt its economy, the government of Ontario has identified 11 priority sectors it expects to play a significant role in the years to come. These priorities blend traditional industries that have long been the backbone of the province with emerging fields that may employ the bulk of workers in the future. They are:
- Automotive manufacturing
- Clean technologies
- Financial services
- Information and communications technology
- Life sciences
- Entertainment and creative cluster
These priorities are similar to those identified by both Toronto and Ottawa as their key sectors.
In Ottawa, the government is a major employer, providing jobs for 110,000 people. However, knowledge-based support services are also a driving force for the local economy. Nearly 2,000 knowledge-based companies are operating in the city, and those firms employ more than 75,000 people. Invest Ottawa has identified eight key sectors including software, wireless and telecom, and photonics.
Toronto, the largest city in the province, has identified similar key industries. Among its 12 priority sectors are technology, design, education services, fashion and tourism among others.
Schools in Ontario
Students will find no shortage of higher education institutions in Ontario. The province is home to 22 universities and 24 colleges, including the following schools.
- Carleton University
- Queen's University
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology
- St. Clair College
- St. Lawrence College
As the largest city in Ontario, Toronto is a popular place to live and study. Universities and colleges in Toronto include these institutions.
- Ryerson University
- University of Toronto
- York University
- Humber College
- George Brown College
- Centennial College
However, students don't need to live near a campus to earn their degree, diploma or certificate. The 24 Ontario colleges have joined together to form OntarioLearn, a partnership providing access to community college courses online. Meanwhile, Contact North is a network of 112 centers offering distance learning and online education options to Ontario residents.
Finally, universities in the province may offer their own online degree programs. In total, the Ontario government estimates schools in Ontario offer more than 18,000 college and university courses, encompassing more than 1,000 distance learning programs.
Ontario colleges and financial aid
The provincial government has two main methods of helping resident students pay for their college education. One method offers grants and loans to students, and the other provides a significant reduction in the price of tuition.
Eligibility for Ontario financial aid is determined by application to the Ontario Student Assistance Program. Students who meet certain program requirements and household income limits may receive up 30 percent off their Ontario tuition bill.
Individuals may also be offered money through OSAP. This funding amount is based upon a formula intended to make education affordable. However, students who still need help even after receiving money through OSAP may get additional aid from schools in Ontario. This aid may come in the following forms.
- Summer employment programs
- Work study programs
More information on OSAP and the 30 percent off Ontario tuition initiative can be found on the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities website. In addition, students can contact Ontario colleges and universities directly to request details on the financial aid offered by those institutions.
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