The federal government is giving $2 billion to provinces and territories to help them ensure kids can safely go back to school next month.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the latest funding from North York, Ontario.
He said the funding is to be allocated based on each province and territory’s number of students.
The money will be given through the Safe Return to Class Fund.
According to the federal government, the Fund will help provinces and territories by supporting adapted learning spaces, improved air ventilation, increased hand sanitation and hygiene, and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
“Our children must always be our top priority. And now parents can get back to work with less worries,” Trudeau said.
Education is a provincial jurisdiction and Trudeau said he will fully “respect that.” Provinces and territories will be able to spend the money as they see fit to ensure schools have the safety measures they need.
“This funding is flexible so provinces and schools can see what they’d need most,” Trudeau added.
“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. 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.”
Ontario will be receiving a total of $763.34 million with a first funding installment of $381 million.
“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,” Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, said in a statement.
“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.”
For all provinces and territories the first funding round will be in fall 2020, with additional funding to be available in early 2021.
The Prime Minister also announced an additional $112 million in funding for First Nations to support community measures to ensure a safe return to school on reserves.
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According to the federal government, the maximum total allocation by province and territory are:
- Alberta: $262.84 million
- British Columbia: $242.36 million
- Manitoba: $85.41 million
- New Brunswick: $39.79 million
- Newfoundland and Labrador: $26.18 million
- Northwest Territories: $4.85 million
- Nova Scotia: $47.88 million
- Nunavut: $5.75 million
- Ontario: $763.34 million
- Prince Edward Island: $10.39 million
- Quebec: $432.15 million
- Saskatchewan: $74.90 million
- Yukon: $4.16 million
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh responded to the Prime Minister’s announcement calling it “very late, without details, and without any help for child care.”
“Recent and devastating reports have shown the level of participation of women in the workforce is at its lowest in thirty years. With more uncertainty about child care and school, in most cases, it will again be women — even those who would have otherwise worked outside of the home — who will be staying out of the workforce to care for their kids,” said Singh.
He added that Trudeau should not be shutting down parliament, but should work to deliver help for Canadians during this time.