The federal minister in charge of families, children and social development came to London on Friday to restate an announcement already revealed by the prime minister on Aug. 26.
Ahmed Hussen reaffirmed the $763.34 million Ontario will receive from the federal government for the safe restart of schools, but how that money will be divided - locally - remained unclear until several hours after the morning news conference.
The federal government does not decide where the funding will go, it is up to the province to determine allocations.
The chair of the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), Arlene Morell, was present at the news conference at White Oaks Public School, but would not answer repeated questions about how much money the board expected, or hoped for.
But she did say she remains pleased, “with the flexibility for local decision making,” as schools prepare to start up amidst the pandemic.
Following the news conference it did not take long for a board spokesperson to follow-up with an email to CTV News that details the numbers.
The TVDSB will receive $8.5 million that will be allocated as follows:
- Additional Elementary Teachers - $4.8 million
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) - $2.1 million
- Supplies - $100,000
- Other - $1.5 million
The biggest expenditures relate to remote learning and the staffing required for it. It will also help pay for school PPE.
Hussen told the small physically-distanced crowd at the news conference that “keeping children safe must always be our top priority, as a government, as parents and as a general society and community”.
London-Fanshawe NDP MP Lindsay Mathyssen, who dropped in on the liberal government announcement in her riding, did not take issue with the funding, but conceded more may be needed if the pandemic intensifies.
“I think that there always could more, and even the minister acknowledged it."
Kwame Aidoo, a food services teacher in a London, Ont. high school, was invited to attend the event.
He stated the millions promised are encouraging and reassuring, however he plans to wait and see if it’s enough in a real-world classroom environment.
“I think, once those questions come up, it will be interesting to see if, ‘Hey can I get hand sanitizer? Can I get personal protective equipment?’ I think, for myself I teach food and nutrition, how can we still maintain the curriculum and keep the kids safe.”
The funding is being paid out to provinces in two installments, one in the fall and the other in early 2021.