The Ontario government is again providing financial relief for families facing new education-related expenses in the COVID-19 era with support totalling $380 million.
Starting today, parents or guardians residing in Ontario can complete a simple online application through the Support for Learners web page. Applications will remain open until Jan. 15, 2021.
The new Support for Learners program will provide direct one-time payments to help 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, such as workbooks, school supplies, technology and developmental resources. The funding also assists with additional childcare costs, whether the child is in child care or at home. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
The program was launched today by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, at the Civic Centre Resource Library in Vaughan.
"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."
Parents or guardians residing in Ontario can complete one application per child to receive a one-time payment of:
$200 for each child aged 0 to 12; or
$250 if their child or youth is aged 0 to 21 with special needs
"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 Lecce. "Our priority remains keeping schools safe and open, and supporting families every step of the way through this incredible challenge."
"Whether kids are attending school online, in-person, or a mix of both, every parent in Ontario is feeling the strain of COVID-19," said Phillips,
"We have heard from parents that new expenses to support their kid's education in this COVID-19 era are straining their pocketbooks. This $380 million investment in families builds on the $378 million provided to parents during the first wave of COVID-19. So, for example, an Ontario family with three children, including one with special needs, would receive $1,300 this year to help cover the costs of an accessible workspace and technology to enable learning online. This is money well spent."
The government is committed to expanding support for those who need it most. Support for Learners is available to parents if their child is attending a publicly funded, private, First Nation operated or federally operated school (either in-person or online), is homeschooled, is enrolled in child care, or is at home.
This investment is in addition to the initial $378 million investment the government provided in Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID‑19, released in March, which assisted parents while Ontario schools and childcare centres were closed during the first wave of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Taken together, the Support for Families and Support for Learners programs provide significant pocketbook relief for parents with at-home learning costs and child care.
Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover is the next phase of a comprehensive action plan to respond to the serious health and economic impacts of COVID-19.