Ontario Helping More Schools Become Community Hubs
Province Investing in Schools to Better Serve Communities
Ontario is investing nearly $90 million dollars to expand child care and child and family support programs in schools and create spaces in schools for community use.
As a response to recommendations in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan, the province committed to supporting the use of schools as community hubs. Community hubs bring together and integrate a range of needed services under one roof to better serve their communities. A community hub can be a school, neighbourhood centre or other public space that houses coordinated services. Ontario's nearly 5,000 schools offer the ideal location for community hubs, as many of them are the heart of their community and are accessible.
As part of today's $90 million investment to further enable the development of community hubs, the province will provide:
- $20 million to create space for new child care and child and family support programs through Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres in schools
- $18 million to retrofit existing child care space within a school to open up more spaces for children under four years old
- $50 million to renovate surplus school space to make it available for use by community partners and the public
- Expanded eligibility for school capital funding to include building replacement space for eligible community partners in new schools or additions to existing schools in the event their original school location is closed.
Ontario is also making it easier for community partners to create community hubs in schools by expanding the list of public organizations able to purchase or lease surplus school property before it is placed on the open market. This list will now include Children's Mental Health Agencies, First Nations and Métis Organizations and others. More time will also be allowed for organizations to place an offer, allowing greater opportunity for continued use of these properties by the community.
Improving community access and increasing services offered in schools is part of the government's economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number one priority - growing the economy and creating jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is also making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario's history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.
- This $90 million dollar investment and changes to Regulation 444/98 support the goals of Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan. Changes to Regulation 444/98 will be effective September 1, 2016.
- A community hub can be a school, neighbourhood centre or other public space that offers co-ordinated services such as education, early years support, health care and social services.
- Overall, the province has invested about $13.5 billion in local school infrastructure, including 758 new schools and more than 735 additions and renovations since 2003.
- In April 2015, the province announced $120 million in new funding dedicated to building safe, high-quality, licensed child care spaces in schools across the province. So far, $90 million has been allocated, resulting in almost 3,200 new licensed child care spaces coming soon to communities across Ontario.
“Schools deliver one of our most cherished services — publicly funded education — and school buildings are ideally located within our communities to deliver additional public services. These investments and regulatory changes are an important part of our vision to unlock the potential of community hubs and make Ontario the best place to work, live and raise a family.”
“Today’s announcement responds to the recommended short-term strategy for schools in Community Hubs in Ontario: A Strategic Framework and Action Plan. We have heard that community partners need more time and information in order to consider opportunities to use schools as hubs. I am very pleased that Ontario is making changes to help local partners better serve their communities.”