Investment in Niagara Schools Boards to Protect Against COVID-19

Published on April 14, 2021

Beamsville - The governments of Ontario and Canada are providing $13,041,255 to the District School Board of Niagara and $7,089,000 to the Niagara 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 the local school boards will support building retrofits, updates and upgrades to their schools and co-located child care 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.

The investments build on the more than $1 billion the Ontario government has invested since 2019 in new schools and child care 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.

"These important upgrades and investments continue to demonstrate our commitment to keeping schools safe for students in Niagara," said Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education and MPP for Niagara West.

"Whether it is improved ventilation or other school-based infrastructure needs, these supports, together with the over $1.6 billion that has already been spent on student and classroom safety, show how much we value keeping schools safe and open."

"Ontario's government is focused on protecting the lives of students, staff and their families," said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

"We put a plan into action that leads the nation - delivering air ventilation improvements to over 95% of schools, 7,000 additional staff, and improved cleaning, testing, and stronger screening. This one-time investment will help improve the safety of schools, building upon Ontario's annual investment of over $1.4 billion to maintain schools and $550 million to build new schools. We also recognize that in addition to these school-based infrastructure investments, Ontario's plan to defeat this pandemic includes vaccines for school staff. We have prioritized education staff in high priority communities and all special education staff across the province and will expand to all staff as supply becomes available."

"As the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly highlighted, investments in the health and wellness of Ontarians are more critical than ever," said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure.

"Supporting air-quality and other infrastructure projects in schools helps to protect our communities, making them stronger, healthier and safer today, and for years to come."

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.