August 7, 2020, Premier Ford announced $230 million to support the safe reopening of child care centres in Ontario. The funding will help support child care operators with increased cleaning costs as well as implementing health and safety requirements in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Ford and Minister Lecce were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Lecce took questions from media regarding Ontario’s plan for reopening schools.
Investment to Support the Safe Reopening of Child Care
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Minister Lecce announced an investment of $234.6 million to safely reopen child care. This investment will support child care operators with cleaning and infection control costs, access to personal protective equipment for staff, promoting physical distancing, purchasing additional cleaning supplies, and hiring additional staff. The Government of Ontario will also supply face coverings to licensed child care settings, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, and First Nations Child and Family Program locations.
The funding announced today is a portion of Ontario’s $7 billion share of the $19 billion federal/provincial/territorial Safe Restart Agreement, announced on July 16.
Child care centres, including before and after school programs and early years programs, will be permitted to reopen across the province at full capacity starting September 1, 2020. Guidance documents to support the full reopening of the sector will be available shortly.
Questions from Media
Ontario’s Plan for Reopening Schools
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Lecce continued to face questions from media regarding whether the government would be open to lowering elementary class sizes ahead of the resumption of in-person learning in September.
While Premier Ford said that he understood the concerns surrounding class sizes, he asked parents, teachers and students to work with the government.
Minister Lecce reiterated that, given the heightened risk of COVID-19 for older students, the government has already taken action to lower class sizes for high school students in high-risk, densely populated regions of the province. $30 million has also been provided for boards to support additional staffing to enable distancing in schools. Minister Lecce reassured parents that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is confident in the multitude of public health measures in the government’s plan and that the issue of class sizes cannot be considered in isolation.
Minister Lecce also shared that his office would be meeting with representatives from the Toronto District School Board today, and would continue to work constructively with boards, especially those in high-risk regions, to find solutions such as innovative ways to re-purpose spaces in schools to enable distancing. He added that the government’s plan is a “living document” which will be responsive to the current level of risk and emerging public health evidence.