The Ontario government has announced it will be providing financial relief for families facing new education-related expenses in the COVID-19 era.
The announcement, totalling $380 million, will provide parents or guardians with a one-time payment of $200 for each child aged 0 to 12 or $250 if their child or youth aged up to 21 with special needs. Parents or guardians residing in Ontario will have to complete an online application to apply for the funds — applications will remain open until January 15, 2021.
The program was launched Monday at a press conference in Vaughan, by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance.
“During this very difficult period, our parents have been the unsung heroes in the fight against COVID-19, whether it’s screening their child before school or assisting them with remote learning,” said Ford. “Parents have been there for us, and our government will continue to be there for them. That’s why we’re providing additional payments to help families with some of the costs of learning and childcare as we battle the second wave of COVID-19.”
The new Support for Learners program was designed to offset additional learning costs, whether their children attend school in person, online or a mix of both. Funds can assist with additional education expenses during COVID-19.
This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
“COVID-19 has imposed many costs on families in this province, which is why we are again providing financial support directly in the pockets of working parents,” said Minister Lecce. “Our priority remains keeping schools safe and open, and supporting families every step of the way through this incredible challenge.”
To be eligible for funding, you must live in Ontario and be a parent or guardian to a child that is between the ages of zero and 12 or if the child has special needs, the age limit will be increased to 21.
For students with special needs, the provincial government is defining special needs as any student reported to be receiving special education programs or services by their school board, any child enrolled in licensed child care reported to be receiving special needs funding or support, and any child identified as having a special need.
On the Ontario government website, it indicates that it doesn’t matter if your child is enrolled in school or child care. All children are eligible based on their age.
Parents will be eligible to apply if their child attends a publicly funded school, attends a private school, attends a First Nation operated or federally operated school, attends school in-person or online, is homeschooled, is enrolled in child care, or a child that stays home.
Only one parent or guardian may apply for each child. Each application will be verified, processed and paid separately. Parents or guardians with more than one child may not receive payments at the same time.
Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review