Ontario to receive $762M from federal government to help schools safely reopen
TORONTO -- Ontario is set to receive $762 million from the federal government to ensure the safety of students when schools reopen their doors in September, as part of a $2 billion safe restart plan.
Ontario’s per capita share will be delivered in two parts – $381 million for the back to school plan in September and $381 million in January during a potential second wave of the virus – and will be spent on hiring additional school janitors, public health nurses and teachers and installation of HVAC systems for proper ventilation.
“Today’s investment by the federal government complements the already landmark investments made by our government in support of safe and healthy schools in Ontario,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement.
Here’s a break down of how the money will be spent, according to the province:
Implementation on reopening plan:
- $100 million for health and safety including the hiring of custodians and improvements to HVAC systems
- $30 million for additional personal protective equipment
- $70 million to hire temporary educators to lower class sizes
- $44.5 million to retain and hire school bus drivers
- $25.5 million to help reduce the number of students on buses
Special education and mental health:
- $12.5 million to hire and train additional staff to provide mental health support for students
Public health nurses:
- $12.5 million to hire an additional 125 public health nurses to help school manage COVID-19 cases
- $36 million to ensure virtual schools have a dedicated principal and administrative support
- $50 million for any “pandemic learning needs” in the Fall.
The $381 million in federal funding is more than what the Ford government has set aside for the education sector for COVID-19 related expenses.
The province announced a total of $359 million for the fall re-opening, while allowing school boards to tap into their own reserve funding to hire additional teachers for smaller classroom sizes.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said by accepting the federal government’s money Premier Doug Ford is acknowledging that his government “hasn’t invested enough.”
“I think it shows that Mr. Ford is, once again, turning to the federal government instead of stepping up to the plate with provincial dollars,” Horwath said at a news conference.
Horwath called on Ford to “double or more” the investment from the federal government to resolve the issues raised by parents and educators.