Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Education Minister Mitzie Hunter announced on Tuesday that $200 million from the province's cap and trade program will go towards making schools in the province more energy efficient.
The amount is part of the $1.4 billion that has been earmarked in the 2017-18 fiscal year for school renewal and repairs, Wynne and Hunter said at a news conference at a northwest Toronto school.
Wynne said the money from what is known as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) will enable schools to install such energy-efficient features as new windows, lights and furnaces. Funded by Ontario's cap and trade auctions, the GGRF supports retrofit projects designed to reduce energy use in schools.
"Over half of the schools in Ontario were built more than 40 years ago. So the reality is, that those physical plants are starting to break down. They need repair," Wynne said at Cedarvale Community School, near Bathurst Street and Eglinton Avenue West.
"School boards around the province have done a good job of keeping those schools in good repair, but there comes a point where there needs to be an extra investment in the schools because big things start to break down.
TSDB to get $50M
"It's our responsibility to make sure that school board has the money that it needs to invest in schools and to keep them in really good shape."
Wynne noted that Cedarvale Community School, where she made the announcement on Tuesday, is itself 67 years old.
The Toronto District School Board will receive $50 million to invest in building improvements, she said.
"As we make these investments, we are actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Wynne said.
"Some of the money is actually going to come from cap and trade revenue. And some of that money is going to be invested in schools."
Part of the $1.4B investment, $200M will go towards energy-efficient building elements to improve student health & fight climate change. pic.twitter.com/iDXWPRSnoz— @MitzieHunter
Lorne Coe, Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP for Whitby-Oshawa and associate critic for education, said the money announced on Tuesday is "a drop in the bucket" of what is needed to keep schools functioning in the province.
"We are pleased that the Liberal government is finally answering our calls to address the state of disrepair in Ontario's schools that has accumulated over the past 14 years, but they've only announced these funds because it's an election year," Coe said in a statement.
"This will ultimately amount to nothing more than another broken election promise from a Liberal government."
Coe noted that Ontario's auditor general reported two years ago that the "deficit of disrepair" in Ontario schools had grown from $5 billion in 2003 to $14 billion in 2015.
According to the Ontario education ministry, the Toronto Catholic District School Board will receive $7 million, the Peel District School Board will receive $12.9 million and the York Region District School Board will receive $4.4 million.
The Ottawa-Carleton School Board will receive $10.4 million, while the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board will receive $4.6 million.