How to apply for Ontario’s $250 per child ‘catch up’ payments

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

Ontario Secretary of Education Stephen Lecce announced this week that the province will issue a fourth round of direct payments to parents — to help students who are struggling to “catch up” in the classroom after two years of learning disruption from COVID-19.

Beginning Thursday, Ontario parents can claim the payments — $200 or $250 per child — to offset costs such as tutoring, supplies and equipment to support their children.

The announcement follows the release of EQAO results for 2021-22, which showed less than half of sixth-grade students – 47 percent – met the provincial standard in math in their senior year.

“It couldn’t be clearer that we need to keep students undisturbed in class, with a focus on catching up on the basics – literacy and numeracy – after two years of pandemic-related learning disruption,” Lecce said.

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

Who is eligible for catch-up payments in Ontario?

You are eligible to claim the payments if you live in Ontario and are a parent or legal guardian of a student from kindergarten through grade 12 through age 18; and/or a parent or legal guardian of a student from Kindergarten to age 21 with special educational needs.

Students are eligible if they attend a public school, private school, First Nation-operated school, or are homeschooled. Both face-to-face and distance learning students are eligible to participate.

According to Ontario’s website, the one-time payment is “intended to help with the cost of your child’s tuition, supplies or equipment in the 2022-23 school year,” but there are no clear rules or terms about how the money can be spent.

How much is the one-time payment?

Parents in Ontario can receive $200 for each school-age child 18 and under or $250 for each school-age child 21 and under with special educational needs.

Where can parents apply for payment?

Parents can request the catch-up payments through a portal on the Ontario government website.

Families can request payments through a secure portal on the Ontario Government website, where they can create an individual profile for each eligible student.

To apply, parents must create a My Ontario Account or sign in using the Government Sign-in by Verified. Me”, which allows access via online banking.

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

  • Name of your school and school board
  • the students Date of birth
  • a valid email address
  • Bank details (bank name, branch or transit number and account number)

Application deadline is March 31, 2023.

How long does it take for parents to receive payment?

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

Mr Lecce has said the money will be deposited directly into their accounts around two to three weeks after an application is submitted. The Ontario government’s website says it will take “a few weeks” to receive payment, depending on the payment method chosen.

How much will it cost the province in total?

The payments are part of a $365 million catch-up plan that the government first announced during August’s speech from the throne.

The provincial government also announced new digital resources for students and educators, new universal reading screening, and the expansion of the government’s tutoring program under the Catch-Up Initiative. On Thursday, Mr Lecce said his government would also deploy “math action teams” in school boards where students are underperforming.

Ontario issued multiple rounds of direct payments totaling $1.6 billion to parents during and just before the COVID-19 pandemic during teachers’ strikes. Last year, parents received $400 per school-age child and $500 for children under 21 with special educational needs.

With reports by Caroline Alphonso and The Canadian Press.

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