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The Ontario government is offering parents $200 or $250 per child to help offset the cost of catching up in school after two years of disrupted learning.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced this week that the province will be issuing a fourth round of direct payments to parents – meant to help students who are struggling to “catch up” in the classroom after two years of COVID-19 learning disruptions.

Starting Thursday, parents in Ontario can apply for the payments – $200 or $250 per child – to help offset costs such as tutoring services, supplies and equipment to support their children.

The announcement follows the release of EQAO results for 2021-22, which showed that fewer than half of Grade 6 students – 47 per cent – met the provincial standard in math in the last academic year.

“It could not be clearer that we must keep students in class without disruption, with a focus on catching up on the fundamentals – reading, writing and math – after two years of pandemic-related learning disruptions,” said Mr. Lecce.

Here’s what you need to know about who is eligible for the payments and how Ontario parents can apply.

Who is eligible for Ontario’s ‘catch up’ payments?

You are eligible to apply for the payments if you live in Ontario and are a parent or guardian of a student from kindergarten to Grade 12, up to age 18; and/or a parent or guardian of a student from kindergarten up to age 21 with special education needs.

Students are eligible if they attend public school, private school, a First-Nation-operated school or are home-schooled. In-person and remote-learning students are both eligible.

According to the Ontario website, the one-time payment is meant “to help with the costs of your child’s tutoring, supplies or equipment during the 2022–23 school year,” but there are no clear rules or strings attached on how the money can be spent.

How much is the one-time payment?

Parents in Ontario can receive $200 per each school-aged child up to the age of 18, or $250 for each school-aged kid up to age 21 with special education needs.

Where can parents apply for the payment?

Parents can apply for the Catch Up payments through a portal on the Government of Ontario website.

Families can apply for the payments through a secure portal on the Government of Ontario website where they can create a unique profile for each eligible student.

To apply, parents will need to create a “My Ontario Account” or log in using the Government Sign-in by Verified. Me,” which provides access through online banking.

Parents will need to submit a separate application for each student, and will need the following information:

  • the name of their school and school board
  • the student’s date of birth
  • a valid e-mail address
  • banking information (bank name, branch or transit number and account number)

The deadline to apply is March 31, 2023.

How long will it take for parents to receive the payment?

Parents can apply online for the payments and request the money via e-transfer, direct deposit or cheque.

Mr. Lecce has said that the money will be directly deposited into their accounts about two to three weeks after an application has been submitted. The Government of Ontario website says that it will take “a few weeks” to receive the payment, depending on the method of payment selected.

How much will it cost the province in total?

The payments are part of a $365-million Plan to Catch Up, which the government first announced during the throne speech in August.

The provincial government also announced new digital resources for students and educators, new universal screening for reading and the extension of the government’s tutoring support program as part of the Catch Up initiative. On Thursday, Mr. Lecce said his government would also deploy “math action teams” to school boards where students are underperforming.

Ontario issued several rounds of direct payments to parents during and just before the COVID-19 pandemic, during teacher strikes, totalling $1.6-billion. Last year, parents received $400 per school-aged child, and $500 for children under the age of 21 who have special education needs.

With reports from Caroline Alphonso and The Canadian Press.