Canada and Ontario team up to enhance health and safety protection for students and staff in response to the impacts of COVID-19
OTTAWA, ON, April 14, 2021 – The governments of Canada and Ontario announced $656.5 million in funding to provide critical infrastructure upgrades to protect students and staff from COVID-19 in the province’s schools.
The infrastructure upgrades were announced by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure for Ontario, and the Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education for Ontario.
The majority of funding will support ventilation projects that improve air quality in classrooms across the province. Projects include HVAC renovations to improve air quality, installing water bottle refilling stations to improve access to safe drinking water, investing in network and broadband infrastructure to support remote learning, and space reconfigurations such as new walls and doors to enhance physical distancing.
The Government of Canada is investing $525.2 million towards these projects through the COVID-19 Resilience stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Government of Ontario is contributing more than $131.3 million to the projects.
“Ontario’s government is focused on protecting the lives of students, staff, and their families. We put a plan into action that leads the nation – delivering air ventilation improvements to over 95% of schools, 7,000 additional staff, and improved cleaning, testing and stronger screening. This one-time investment will help improve the safety of schools, building upon Ontario’s annual investment of over $1.4 billion to maintain schools and $550 million to build new schools,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education for Ontario. “We also recognize that in addition to these school-based infrastructure investments, Ontario’s plan to defeat this pandemic includes vaccines for school staff. We have prioritized education staff in high priority communities and all special education staff across the province, and will expand to all staff as supply becomes available.”
Both levels of government have teamed up to support Ontario families, businesses and communities, and continue to look ahead to see what more can be done in these unprecedented times.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the wellbeing of students, parents and teachers. As we continue to battle this crisis, ensuring a safe learning environment for our kids is critical. That’s why the Government of Canada is investing 80 cents on every dollar for a total of over $500 million to make schools across Ontario safer for students and teachers,” said Catherine McKenna, Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “These projects will improve air quality, install more hand washing stations and support better physical distancing. They are part of the federal government’s support to help Canadians get through the pandemic safely, create good jobs across the province, and build stronger, more resilient communities.”
The COVID-19 Resilience stream, implemented in response to the pandemic, allows the Government of Canada to invest up to 80% in projects that support provinces, and up to 100% in projects that support territories and Indigenous communities in their response to the pandemic.