Ottawa gives millions to Nova Scotia ahead of school reopening
HALIFAX -- With school set to resume next month, the federal government is giving $2 billion to provinces and territories from one end of the country to the other.
"Our share will be $48 million and we'll be using this to help keep our students and staff safe," Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said Wednesday.
McNeil said all schools in the province will have their ventilation systems checked before school starts back up and that some of the federal money could help pay for systems that need to be serviced.
It will also go to help support cleaning and sanitizing on both buses and in schools.
"We will use some of that money to support bus drivers and cleaning staff and if we have to hire more cleaning staff, we will do so. We've also learned that not all of our students have access to electronic devices, and we will be using some of this money to make sure that all of our students get that access," said McNeil.
Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union called on government to commit to providing parents with a detailed health and safety audit of classrooms before students return, providing information like the number of students in the class and the size of the classroom.
"We think it's really important that government is transparent with families and with staff that work in these schools about the state of safety upon return to work," said NSTU President Paul Wozney.
It's an idea the premier dismissed Wednesday.
"Classroom sizes haven't changed since last September. So, the configuration will be what our physical footprint is and the number of kids that would be in a particular class," said McNeil.
While tens of thousands of students get ready for a different school year, the province announced it is lifting some pandemic restrictions at long-term care homes.
"While indoor visits will continue to be restricted to one visitor at a time, we've lifted the limit on the number of people that a resident can identify for those indoor visits," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.
Long-term care residents will also be allowed to leave their facility with a family member to attend medical appointments.
In addition to the changes at long-term care homes, government says it is working with four venues, including Centre 200 in Sydney and the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, to host larger groups.
"The changes for these four facilities mean that they can host multiple groups of 200 people for indoor events and multiple groups of 250 for outdoor events, but only if each specific group of 200 or 250 remains separated from the other groups. So, what we're doing is creating individual bubbles of up to 200 indoors and 250 outdoors," said Strang.