Ontario spending $24 million to reduce risk of school violence, keep students and staff safe
Health & Safety ontario school safety workplace violence
Ontario is spending $24 million to reduce the risk of violence in schools and promote the safety of students and educators.
The province said the funding is a direct response to “recent incidents of violence in schools that have increased concern and fear amongst students, families and the broader community.”
That includes a shooting outside Weston Collegiate Institute in Toronto that injured a 15-year-old in February; a stabbing later that month that injured a 17-year-old outside Sandalwood Heights Secondary School in Brampton, Ont.; and the fatal shooting in October 2022 of 18-year-old in front of Toronto’s Woburn Collegiate Institute.
“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.”
Colleen Russell-Rawlins, director of education for the Toronto District School Board, said the funding will enable the board to continue pursuing new educational partnerships and expanding youth employment opportunities.
“We know that when the TSDB collaborates with community organizations, we can better engage students and changes lives,” she said.
Former Toronto Argonaut superstar Michael “Pinball” Clemons — whose foundation is receiving $500,000 as part of the initiative — said he was “proud” to partner the province.
“The best way to connect young people to life-long success is to provide them with hope and opportunity,” said Clemons.
Where the money is going
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 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.