Investments in youth and community programs will help keep schools safe
The Ontario government is investing $24 million to help reduce the risk of violence in schools and promote the safety of students and educators. This is in response to recent incidents of violence in schools that have increased concern and fear amongst students, families and the broader community.
“Our schools must be safe for students,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Students should never be afraid or nervous about going to school, and parents must be able to trust their children are protected. Today, our government is giving additional support to school boards and investing through partnerships to ensure our schools can provide a safe environment that promotes and fosters healthy learning.”
This funding will provide additional support to school boards and community organizations, including:
- More than $2.8 million to expand Focus on Youth, increasing the province’s investment in this program by 37 per cent to $10.45 million for 2022-23. This investment will provide high-quality program opportunities for thousands of children and youth in 24 school boards across Ontario by creating employment experiences for high school students. Further, the funding will help increase access to free/low-cost camps for children and youth (kindergarten to Grade 12) in high-needs areas where such opportunities may be limited.
- $1.8 million to the Toronto District School Board to work with community organizations to address incidents of school violence by supporting inclusion and engagement in schools.
- $500,000 (2022-23, 2023-24) to the Pinball Clemons Foundation to partner with the One Voice One Team Youth Leadership Organization. This partnership will provide mentorship, inspiration and ongoing opportunities for connection through in-school and after-school programming.
- $600,000 to partner with Respect Group Inc to deliver and implement the Respect in School Workshop, a 90-minute evidence-based online training program available in French and English designed for school leaders on the prevention of bullying, abuse, harassment and discrimination.
- $1.5 million (2023-24) in anti-hate initiatives that include development of classroom resources to promote diversity and that better reflect the population of Canada, and to partner with community organizations to provide curriculum-linked educational resources on digital literacy to increase student awareness of online misinformation, critical thinking skills and awareness of online hate and threats.
- $1 million in 2023-24 to partner with community organizations to combat racism and dismantle systemic barriers faced by underserved and racialized students through youth hotlines, counselling services, youth support networks, lesson plans and classroom materials.
To support student well-being, Ontario is providing $16 million in new funding in 2023-24 through the Safe and Clean Schools Supplement within the Grants for Student Needs that includes the following:
- $12 million to support the salaries and benefits costs for staff such as psychologists, social workers and child/youth workers to enhance additional direct services for students
- $4 million to support the salaries and benefits costs for educational assistants to work with students who may require additional support.
Ontario’s investments reflect the urgency of supporting communities to combat school violence through programs that engage youth, address the root causes of violence, support students to overcome personal and academic challenges hindering learning achievement, and help them create meaningful connections to — and a sense of belonging within — their schools and communities.
- In summer 2022, nearly 2,000 students were hired through Focus on Youth placements, while more than 28,000 students have benefited from free or low-cost programming.
- Ontario’s Urban and Priority High Schools program provides $10 million annually to 46 schools in 12 English and French school boards in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, London, Ottawa, Waterloo, and Windsor. The program supports participants to become engaged in and attend school regularly, improve their literacy and numeracy skills, participate in school activities, connect to their community, learn valuable leadership skills and plan for their future.
- For the 2023-24 school year, Ontario is providing a projected $43.5 million through the Safe and Accepting Schools Allocation within the Grants for Student Needs to:
- Hire child and youth workers, social workers, psychologists, education assistants and attendance counsellors to work with students who are at-risk of suspension or expulsion
- Provide programming supports to students who have been expelled or are on long-term suspension, including help meeting curriculum expectations while not in school, developing positive behaviours and attitudes, anger management, substance abuse counselling, self-regulation, conflict management or life skills coaching.