TORONTO -- The provincial government has announced a plan to combat anti-Asian racism within Ontario schools that will see $340,000 in funding allocated to equity programs and community partners.

The support is intended to “help ensure students learn in more inclusive classrooms and are supported by their educators and communities,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement on Wednesday.

A March 2021 report released in a joint effort by several advocacy groups, including the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, stated that 1,150 cases of racist attacks against Asians took place between March 2020 and February 2021 in Canada. A majority of these incidents were reported from Ontario and British Columbia, says the ministry.

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our schools and our government is acting to protect students and promote inclusivity for all children,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, hate crimes have sharply and disturbingly risen against Asian-Canadians. In our schools, we celebrate diversity and champion inclusion, as no child deserves to feel unsafe in their schools and in this country,” he continued.

The funding provided by the government will be divided between the Hong Fook Mental Health Association, the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, the Asian Canadian Educators Network (ACENET), and Community Family Services of Ontario, says the Ministry.

“Too many Asian youth are struggling to access mental health and addictions care [..] These youth need our support. We are pleased to partner with the Ontario government to provide new resources that will embed equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism as fundamental principles in the delivery of mental health care and services for the student population,” said Bonnie Wong, executive director at the Hong Fook Mental Health Association. 

Wong says the association will use the new funding to expand current intensive outreach efforts and offer timely counselling services to youth and their parents.

“To honour the proud contributions, storied history, and sacrifice Canadians of Asian heritage have made to building this country, our government is partnering and investing to directly counter anti-Asian racism in our schools and communities,” added Minister Lecce. “We are acting to protect students, combat anti-Asian racism, and ensure that all children are celebrated.”