FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question as he speaks with media following an announcement in Brockville, Ont., Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds roll out $2 billion to fund return-to-school safety amid pandemic

Additional $112M will go towards First Nations schools

The federal government is giving $2 billion in schools safety for the coming school year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday (Aug. 26).

The cash will come as part of a newly created Safe Return to Class fund to “help keep students and teachers safe as schools reopen,” the prime minister said during a press conference at a public school in North York, Ont.

Trudeau also announced a separate $112M for schools in First Nations communities.

Trudeau said the $2 billion was flexible funding and that it was not meant to sidestep provinces, as education falls under their jurisdiction. The money can be used for anything from hand sanitizer to remote learning options, he added.

The prime minister was peppered with questions about why the feds were funding a provincial responsibility, as well as the timing of the money. Students in Quebec have already return to classrooms, while other provinces will have kids in school within the next week or two. Alberta students are scheduled to return Sept. 2 or 3, while B.C. classrooms will fill up with kids by Sept. 10.

“Over the past week or so I’ve heard from… parents across the country that are worried about how that reopening is going to go,” Trudeau said. “What [the provinces] choose to do is up to them… but we know there is more to do.”

Of the $2 billion, B.C. will receive $242.36 million.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation has called on the province to use the money to reduce class size, density and bring in better cleaning and ventilation, as well as remote learning options for students who need them.

More to come.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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