TORONTO -- Ontario’s education minister says parents in the province can expect to begin receiving their latest round of direct payments from the Doug Ford government starting on April 26.

Stephen Lecce announced the date during a news conference in Durham Region on Wednesday afternoon.

The Ford government set aside $980 million in its 2021 budget for direct payments to parents under the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit, which aims to help offset costs incurred by parents as a result of the pandemic.

Parents will receive $400 per child from aged 0 to Grade 12. For parents with children who have special needs, they will receive $500 per child under 21.

The province has issued direct payments to parents on two previous occasions under the Support For Learners program, which was rolled out at the start of the pandemic. Parents previously received $200 per child and $250 per child with special needs, costing the Ontario PC government an estimated $868 million.

The new money will automatically flow to those who previously received payments from the province and parents who did not apply for that program can put in an application for the new child benefit between May 3 and May 17.

"Every parent in Ontario has faced new pressures due to COVID-19," Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said in a written statement released Wednesday.

"For some, that includes financial challenges caused by the pandemic. For many, it includes new expenses to support virtual learning or child care. And for all, it includes anxiety about their child's future in a world that will look different than it does today. While our government can't make this pressure go away, we can provide a helping hand.”