The governments of Ontario and Canada are providing $17,235,000 to Simcoe County District School Board and $7,442,675 to Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board to upgrade infrastructure at local schools to protect against COVID-19. The funding is being provided through the COVID-19 Reliance Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The funding for these school boards will support building retrofits, updates and upgrades to their schools and co-located childcare facilities. Projects can include HVAC renovations to improve air quality, installing water bottle refilling stations to improve access to safe drinking water, and space reconfigurations such as new walls and doors to enhance physical distancing.
“We want to see kids back in schools safely and this is a key investment to ensure that kids can return to in-class learning” said Andrea Khanjin – MPP for Barrie and Innisfil. “This investment will ensure for our kids that schools are healthy and safe places to learn and grow.”
The investments build on the more than $1 billion the Ontario government has invested since 2019 in new schools and childcare spaces and additions to provide working families with access to quality, safe, and state-of-the-art learning spaces. Supported by provincial funding, 95% of Ontario schools have reported upgrades or enhancements to their air filtration systems, with over 40,000 HEPA filters and other ventilation devices in classrooms.
The Government of Canada is investing up to $525.2 million towards these projects through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Government of Ontario is contributing $131.3 million to the projects.
Annually, the Ontario government invests $1.4 billion in continuous maintenance and improvements to school facilities.
“This funding will help educators, students and parents feel safer about in class learning” said MP John Brassard. “Putting students and their friends back in the classroom with clean air, new water stations and enhanced safety protocols is a priority so educators can focus on teaching and parents can feel more secure about their child’s safety.”
The COVID-19 Resilience stream will deliver $656.5 million to support individual school board submissions for education related projects.
The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) is a 10-year, $30-billion federal, provincial and municipal program that provides funding to improve public transit; community, culture and recreation; green; and rural and northern community infrastructure. Ontario is investing $10.2 billion in this program.
The federal COVID-19 Resilience stream has been adapted from ICIP to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. This ICIP stream, delivered through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, has been designed to help add flexibilities, expand project eligibility and accelerate approvals.
Ontario schools have been provided with more than $1.6 billion to better protect students, staff and families from COVID-19 including support for online learning, promoting student mental health, hiring additional staff and investing $100 million ear-marked for immediate improvements to air quality and ventilation.
Ontario is conducting voluntary targeted testing for asymptomatic students and school staff as an added layer of protection against the transmission of COVID-19.
The Ontario government invests $550 million annually to build new schools.