September 21, 2023


Education is everything you need

Education dollars geared to ‘protect’ against COVID-19

Area schools glean more than $7M in federal, provincial funding

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Area schools have received more than $7 million, the lion’s share from the federal government and the rest from the province, for infrastructure upgrades.


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Projects, which officials bill as protections against COVID-19, include HVAC renovations to improve air quality, as well as the installation of water bottle refilling stations.

The funding is “wide open to a variety of uses,” Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan told a press conference Tuesday morning at Kiwedin Public School

‘We need to build today for the future we want tomorrow’

“Students, teachers and staff, deserve to work and learn in safe, modern learning spaces, and these investments will improve the safety of schools and classrooms in Sault Ste. Marie and across Ontario,” Sheehan said over the sound of construction crews carrying out work at the North Street school.

“We need to build today for the future we want tomorrow.”

The federal government is directing $5.7 million through its Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, while the province has earmarked $1.4 million. Algoma District School Board will receive almost $4.5 million, while Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board will get nearly $2.7 million.

The federal and Ontario governments recently announced $656.5 million in joint funding through the COVID-19 Resilience Stream to support more than 9,800 projects at almost 3,900 schools and co-located child-care facilities across 74 school boards in Ontario.

Sault MPP Ross Romano said the funding arrangement announced Tuesday is a testament to “exceptional collaboration” between the federal and Ontario governments during the pandemic.


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“I’m very, very proud of that collaboration. Here, we’re all part of team Sault Ste. Marie,” he said. “We love to be able to contribute in the ways we’ve been able to do so at this level.”

These “considerable funds,” Romano said, will “ensure, as we move forward from this pandemic, move forward in a reopening plan, that our students are going to have the safest, healthiest environments to learn in. And not only the students here today, but the students of future generations.”

Romano said officials are working on a school reopening plan to ensure a “safe” return to the classroom, adding Education Minister Stephen Lecce will share details “very soon.”

“And that is the No. 1 focus for everybody, of course, is ensuring the health and safety,” Romano said.

The government did release its back-to-school plan later on Tuesday, which included extracurricular activities resuming, relaxed rules on using shared spaces such as libraries and cafeterias, and continuing to require masks indoors for students in Grades 1 and up.

Lecce will not be available to answer questions about the plan until Wednesday, when he is set to announce $25 million more in ventilation funding for standalone HEPA filter units.

Funding, officials say, will also be directed toward network and broadband infrastructure to support remote learning, and space reconfigurations, such as new walls and doors, to enhance physical distancing.

Algoma District School Board director of education Lucia Reece said many projects are currently underway in her board and are slated to be ready for September.


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“As Ontarians, we should all be very proud of the level of collaboration we’ve seen throughout the pandemic in terms of supporting and ensuring that students have safe, healthy places to learn,” she said “The timing of this funding was fantastic as we try to do as much work as possible when the kids are out of school.”

ADSB chair Jennifer Sarlo said boards “consistently advocate” for capital funds to upgrade aging facilities.

“The pandemic exposed some high-priority areas that required immediate enhancements that could not be met within our current funding cycle,” she added.

Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board trustee John Caputo, speaking on behalf of director of education Rose Burton Spohn, said of the $3.4 million the board received, $2.6 million will be used to upgrade ventilation in St. Mary’s in Blind River, Our Lady of Fatima in Chapleau, Our Lady of Lourdes in Elliot Lake, St. Joseph in Wawa, and St. Basil’s in White River.

“These important upgrades will significantly increase the comfort and safety of our students and employees,” read Burton Spohn’s statement.

She said the board was also “very grateful” to have received $80,000 in funding for water bottle re-filling stations in elementary schools in Chapleau, Elliot Lake and Wawa.

“These stations will encourage our students to maintain and develop ecologically friendly habits that protect our natural environment and planet,” she added.

— with files from The Canadian Press

[email protected]

On Twitter: @JeffreyOugler



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