The Province of Ontario will receive $381 million dollars this fall, out of a newly announced federal Return to School fund.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the funding stream on Wednesday morning, saying up to $2 billion will be spread across all provinces and territories. “As a former teacher and a parent, I know first-hand the importance of school for kids’ social development and mental well-being, not to mention their ability to learn,” said Trudeau. “The return to school is also an important step to restart our economy and get parents back to work while not worrying about the health of their children.”
“Education is, of course, a provincial jurisdiction, and I told the premiers yesterday we absolutely respect that,” Trudeau added. “What we’re announcing today is designed to support provinces and territories in the best way possible.”
The Ontario Government has already dedicated its share of this added funding to several initiatives; $70 million will be committed to student transportation including driver retention and helping to reduce the number of students per bus. The province will use $200 million of this funding to help implement its school reopening plan, including $100 million towards hiring new custodians, HVAC improvements, and internet for students learning from home.
Federal funding will also be devoted to hiring more public health nurses across Ontario, support special education and mental health needs, and some remote learning costs.
“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,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Ontario’s investments lead the nation in supporting priorities like more cleaning, physical distancing, testing, and hiring of staff to ensure a safe reopening of our schools this September.”
The province will set aside $50 million of this added funding to cover unexpected future needs.
Funding will be provided to provinces and territories in two instalments, with the first disbursement this Fall and additional funding available for early 2021. Ontario is expected to receive another $380 million at this time.