Ontario government establishes $100M fund for colleges, universities hit by pandemic

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TORONTO — Ontario is pouring more than $100 million into a fund to support colleges and universities that have taken a financial hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister of colleges and universities says the cash will go to schools that have lost revenue while incurring additional expences related to remote learning and personal protective equipment.

Ross Romano says schools can also use the funding to offset COVID-19 expenses related to student financial supports and human resources.

He says the sector is "in fine financial health," but some schools have been struggling.

The $106.4 million will go to the new Postsecondary Education Support Fund, which the province says allocates money based on school size and the financial impact of the pandemic.

The Council of Ontario Universities, an advocacy group for the sector, has said the institutions are facing a shortfall of $500 million related to the pandemic.

The group said the province's 21 universities suffered a combined loss of roughly $1 billion for the 2020-2021 school year.

Savings and one-time cuts have brought that number down by about half, and the schools are now asking for sector-wide support from the province to help make up the difference, the organization said.

The council requested additional funding from the province late last month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press