GST/HST Memorandum 20-2 “Public Colleges” December 2019
Meaning of “post-secondary”
5. In order for a college or technical institute to qualify as post-secondary, its normal admission standards must include the requirement that prospective students have either a secondary school diploma or equivalency, or mature student status.
10. … [M]onies that are provided to an organization under agreements between the organization and a government or municipality for the provision of training to a particular group of students, such as recipients of income or employment assistance, do not meet this requirement. Funding to support job training activities is generally used by an organization to provide specific educational services over a limited time period and therefore does not relate to the ongoing provision of educational services to the general public.
Meaning of general public
11. The term general public, as it relates to public colleges, is interpreted to mean a significant segment of the general public. A post-secondary college or post-secondary technical institute may have certain reasonable admission standards, such as educational prerequisites, and still be considered to be providing educational services to the general public. Further, as long as a post-secondary college or post-secondary technical institute offers a variety of courses to the general public, it may be acceptable for a portion of the courses or programs offered to be limited to a narrow segment of the public.
Example of “general public” requirement not satisfied (union members only)
Company C is a corporation established by a union and registered as a post-secondary technical institute under provincial legislation.
Company C offers a variety of labour law and management training programs for which one of the normal admission requirements is either a secondary school diploma or equivalent or mature student status. All of the training offered by Company C is available exclusively to members of the union.
Company C receives funding from the province to finance the ongoing operations of its educational programs.
Company C does not qualify as a public college because it uses the government funding that it receives to subsidize the training of union members only and not to support the ongoing delivery of educational services to the general public.