MP: Federal funding of $242m for B.C. school restart plan 'flexible' in use

The federal government’s contribution of $242 million to the B.C. education system is a “flexible” fund to help schools in their restart plans, according to the MP who made the announcement on Friday.

Joyce Murray, member of Parliament for Vancouver-Quadra, made the announcement about B.C.’s portion of federal funding of $2 billion announced earlier this week, the “Safe Return to School Fund.”

“This funding is flexible so ultimately schools can use it for what they need the most, from online learning to hand sanitizer,” Murray said.

At the announcement, Bruce Ralston, MLA for Surrey-Whalley called the $242 million a “very pleasant surprise.”

Ralston said the education minister has been working with school districts to expand remote learning that will still allow students to stay connected to their own schools, Ralston said.

“This funding will help provide more resources to districts like Surrey and the other 59 throughout the province so they can invest even further in these areas, so they can continue to provide safe, on-going learning opportunities,” Ralston said.

The Ministry of Education has mandated schools reopen after Labour Day, with students coming back on Sept. 10, two days after teachers and other staff return. Schools in B.C. have been largely closed in B.C. since spring break with a partial return in June.

Each school district across B.C. had to create its own plan for the restart of schools, which needed approval from the education ministry.

“We know there’s no better place than in-class learning,” Ralston said at the announcement. “The academic benefits are incalculable, so is the social aspect having students interact with classmates and teachers.”

Murray also announced the federal government was spending $112 million on First-Nations schools across Canada.

“No matter where they live, students must be safe in their classrooms,” she said.

Funding will be provided to B.C. in two installments. The first disbursement will be in the fall and the second, in early 2021. 

Murray made the announcement at Forsyth Road Elementary in Surrey.