Ontario Unveils Record Education Investment to Help Students Recover from COVID-19 Disruptions
Students to Benefit from New Learning Recovery Plan, Mental Health Investments in 2022-23 School Year
|NEWS||February 18, 2022|
Following two years of global learning disruption, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government announced record funding of $26.6 billion for the 2022-23 school year. This funding will support learning recovery and fund mental health supports for students to allow a return to a more normal school year next year.
As part of the announcement, Education Minister Stephen Lecce unveiled Ontario’s Learning Recovery Action Plan – a five-point plan to strengthen learning recovery in reading and math, anchored by the largest provincial investment in tutoring supports, summer learning and mental health.
“These investments will help students in our communities have access to the supports they need to ensure students feel safe and supported at school as they recover from the pandemic disruptions,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
Highlights from Ontario’s record investment in public education include:
- A $683.9 million increase in Grants for Student Needs (GSN) funding, with projected total funding of $26.1 billion. This represents a 2.7 per cent increase from 2021-22
- Average per pupil GSN funding is projected to rise to $13,059, which is an increase of $339 or a 2.7 per cent increase from 2021-22
- Over $500 million in Priorities and Partnerships Funding (PPF)
- $90 million in total mental health investments, representing a 420 per cent increase in funding since 2017-18
- $15 million to deliver expanded summer learning opportunities
- $92.9 million increase in Special Education Grant funding through the GSN where it is projected to increase to over $3.25 billion, the highest amount ever provided in Special Education Grant funding
- $304 million in time-limited additional staffing supports, through the COVID-19 Learning Recovery Fund as part of the GSN. This funding will go towards the hiring of an estimated 3,000 front line staff – including teachers, early childhood educators, educational assistants, and other education workers to address learning recovery
The government is also continuing to provide $1.4 billion for the repair and renewal of schools for the 2022-23 school year.
In the 2022-2023 school year, the following GSN funding will be allocated to the following school boards in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock:
|School Board||2022-2023 Projected GSN Funding|
|Kawartha Pine Ridge DSB||$434,757,722 million|
|Trillium Lakelands DSB||$218,553,275 million|
|Durham DSB||$862,549,944 million|
|Durham Catholic DSB||$263,077,781 million|
|Peterborough V N C Catholic DSB||$188,708,404 million|
“No government in Ontario history has invested more in public education, tutoring supports, mental health, and special education than ours led by Premier Ford,” said Minister Lecce. “We are bridging learning gaps that have emerged over the past years through a massive increase in small group tutoring programs and through the expansion of mental health supports to benefit children across all schools in Ontario.”
The Ontario Government’s $600 million Learning Recovery Action Plan will help students recover from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be available to students this year and into next school year. $175 million is being invested to expand access to free publicly funded tutoring in small groups after school, during school, on weekends and over the summer. This province-wide program will start in April 2022 and continue until December 31, 2022 to ensure continuity of access to tutoring to ensure students can catch-up as they start the next school year.
The plan leverages and expands proven, high-yield programs and supports, and introduces new initiatives to address critical gaps, with the following five pillars:
- Introducing comprehensive tutoring supports for students through school boards that will also include partnerships with community organizations
- Supporting student resilience and mental well being
- Strengthening numeracy and literacy skills
- Modernizing curriculum and programs to emphasize job and life skills
- Resuming EQAO assessments to measure and assess learning levels
As part of its commitment to support student mental health and well-being in 2022-23, Ontario will be investing more than $90 million including $10 million in new funding, of which $5 million is to be used for evidence based mental health programs and resources. This funding will help to retain the existing mental health workers in schools, including the 180 mental health professionals that are providing critical supports directly to students in secondary schools across the province.
In addition, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, will engage with a wide range of stakeholders to leverage the best available evidence on emerging student mental health needs. Consultations are expected to start in summer 2022.
The mental health components of the learning recovery plan may include:
- Mandatory professional development on mental health for educators
- Working with the Ministry of Health to consult with stakeholders to leverage the best available evidence on emerging student mental health needs and the potential of a graduation requirement on resilience and mental well-being
- Continuing to support student resilience and well-being with the following goals:
- mentally healthy classrooms and learning environments
- effective and responsive school mental health and addictions supports
- connections to the broader comprehensive system of mental health care.
The Ontario government also announced $26 million to renew funding for school-focused nurses in public health units, with up to 625 nurses supporting student health and well-being, along with and infection prevention and control plans and other supports to keep schools as safe as possible.
The Ministry of Education provides operating funding to Ontario’s 72 district school boards and 10 school authorities through the annual GSN education funding model. Funding to school boards is provided on a combination of per-student, per-school, and per-board basis.
- Since August 2020, more than $600 million has been allocated to improve ventilation and filtration in schools as part of the province’s efforts to protect against COVID-19. These investments have resulted in improvements to existing ventilation systems; deployment of over 70,000 HEPA filter units and other ventilation devices to schools, with an additional 3,000 HEPA units being provided; upgrades to school ventilation infrastructure; and increased transparency through public posting of school board standardized ventilation measure reports.
- As part of the government’s ongoing efforts to improve and modernize infrastructure, Ontario announced over $565 million in the 2021-22 school year to build 26 new schools and 20 permanent additions to existing schools, which will create new construction jobs and provide nearly 20,000 new student spaces across the province once complete.
- In recognition of increasing demands for digital learning in the classroom and increased network capacity, Ontario will be investing an additional $40 million in the 2022-23 GSN, to support the cost of associated with network connectivity, infrastructure, security and related operations in schools and school board buildings as usage increases and technology evolves.
- Under the Broadband Modernization Program, all schools across Ontario are equipped to provide adequate, reliable access to all students for online learning.
Office of Laurie Scott, MPP