The province will invest an additional $120 million in school infrastructure work across Northern Ontario, bringing the total investment for school repairs for the region to $300 million over the next two years.
Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement on Monday at Northern Heights Public School in Sault Ste. Marie as part of her week-long visit to more than a dozen communities across the North. Northern Heights is currently undergoing a major refurbishment funded by a previously announced investment in the Algoma District School Board. As part of the new investments announced today, the four school boards serving the Sault Ste. Marie region will receive more than $62 million over two years — nearly $25 million more than originally budgeted.
Wynne said: “Through our record investment in infrastructure, we are repairing and renewing existing public schools in Northern Ontario — and across our province. This investment will give school boards the tools they need to create safe and modern spaces where our kids can learn and excel.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne at the Elliot Lake online learning centre – as part of her Northern Ontario tour.
Roof repair, electrical and plumbing systems
The $300 million in funding for northern schools will help school boards repair roofs, update HVAC units, and modernize electrical and plumbing systems. It will also help improve parts of schools that directly impact students’ daily lives, including walls, flooring, ceilings and playing fields.
Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, said: “Investing in our schools is one of the most important infrastructure investments we can make for nearly two million students in Ontario. Our government believes in better buildings for better learning and well-being. Making sure schools across the province are in a state of good repair is an essential part of supporting student achievement. The investment announced today is great news for students, educators, communities and the economy.
The funding to repair and renew Northern schools is part of a provincewide investment of $2.7 billion over two years. This is $1.1 billion more than the government initially allocated.
This funding is part of the largest public infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history — $160 billion over 12 years — which is supporting 110,000 jobs every year across the province, with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals.
- The $2.7 billion provincewide investment represents an increase in funding for elementary and secondary school renewal of $500 million for the 2015–16 school year and $575 million for 2016–17.
- This new funding addresses the Auditor General’s 2015 recommendations to increase investment in school renewal to 2.5 per cent of schools’ replacement value, and to direct two-thirds of infrastructure investment in schools to renewal and one-third to new construction.
- Since 2003, the province has invested more than $14 billion in school infrastructure, including nearly 760 new schools and more than 735 additions and renovations.
- The province is providing school boards with more than $12 billion over 10 years to help build new schools in areas of high growth, improve the condition of existing schools and invest in projects to reduce surplus space through school consolidations.
- To support transparency, the province will publicly post detailed information on the condition and renewal needs of each of Ontario’s 4,900 public schools, about half of which are more than 40 years old. – CINEWS