Some parents may get direct payments from the Ontario government yet again this year.
The payments, which were previously not included in the 2022 budget, were first mentioned in the government’s throne speech on Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking in the legislature, Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell said that when the budget is re-introduced, it will include an additional $225 million over two years in direct payments to parents “to help their kids catch up.”
“This funding, which will put money directly into parents’ pockets, is on top of the more than $26.6 billion the province is investing in public education, the most ever in Ontario’s history,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance confirmed to CTV News Toronto this funding was a new addition to the budget and that details are still being finalized, including whether all parents will receive the payments or if the distribution will be more targeted.
Information about eligibility, as well as how much money parents can anticipate, is expected in the coming days.
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy told reporters the funding will help “fill gaps in learning for students after two years of pandemic disruptions.”
“We'll have more details in regards to how we're going to roll out that program. But let me tell you this, we're going to listen to parents, we're going to listen to many people to say what's the best way we can deliver the right type of funding to support parents.,” he said.
The funding is less than what was proposed in the 2021 budget, when the Ford government set aside $980 million to offset costs incurred by parents as a result of virtual learning.
At the time, parents received $400 per child aged 0 to Grade 12. Parents with children who have special needs under the age of 21 received $500.
This will be the fourth payout to parents since Premier Doug Ford took office in 2018. The other two instances were rolled out under the Support For Learners program at the beginning of the pandemic.
Under that program parents received $200 per child or $250 per child with special needs. This cost the Ford government an estimated $868 million.
If the same parents are eligible for this round of funding, it could equal about $90 to $100 per kid.
When asked why the $225 million wasn’t being directed to school boards, Bethlenfalvy pivoted to talk about the billions the government is already spending on education, tutoring and mental health supports for students in the public education system.
The union representing education workers, who are currently in negotiations for a new contract, said in a statement they have been calling for greater investments in schools.
“Meanwhile, this throne speech announced $225-million that would go to parents who are bafflingly supposed to now find private tutors to help their kids catch up,” President of CUPE Ontario Fred Hahn said.
“Ontarians deserve better than this recycled pre-election budget.”