Ontario Expands Access to Special Education Supports

Ontario Expands Access to Special Education Supports

New Supports Help Students and Families with Special Education Needs

April 04, 2022


TORONTO — The Ontario government is supporting students with special education needs, along with their parents, through new investments and partnerships that will help them succeed in the classroom. The investments are part of the government’s overall plan to support learning recovery and renewal, and address the impacts of learning disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the government’s Priorities and Partnerships Funding (PPF) COVID-19 Equity Supports, Ontario’s new investments in special education include:

  • $150,000 to Down Syndrome Association of Ontario (DSAO) to create digital and print content that supports parents, guardians and caregivers as their child with Down syndrome transitions through the school system
  • $100,000 to Child Development Institute (CDI) to implement the Stop Now And Plan (SNAP) program and the Early Assessment Risk List (EARL) framework for children with behavioural issues, and in support of their families. SNAP teaches children effective emotion regulation, self-control and problem-solving skills and techniques
  • $25,000 to Children at Risk for programs for children with autism to help develop their behavioural, communications and social skills.

“We are fully committed to improving educational outcomes and job prospects for students with special education needs, which is exactly why our government is funding new partnerships to better support children with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental and intellectual disabilities,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Working together with our partners, we are giving hope to these children, relief to their families and building a brighter future for some of the most dynamic and affectionate children that are among the most vulnerable students in our schools.”

These investments build on historic funding announced last month to overcome the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of Ontario’s $26.1-billion Grants for Student Needs (GSN) for 2022-23, the province is increasing total Special Education Grant (SEG) funding to more than $3.25 billion for the 2022-23 school year, an investment of over $92 million to support students with special education needs. This is the highest amount ever provided in SEG funding.

The government is also expanding summer learning programs in 2022 to include $10 million in funding for programs for students with special education needs. And as part of Ontario’s plan to support student achievement and help them reach their full potential, the province is investing $8.32 million in PPF for early interventions in math for students with special education needs to help them prepare for a de-streamed curriculum.

This builds on increased investment in mental health supports to the highest levels ever recorded in Ontario’s history. In 2017-2018, the province invested $17.4 million for school-based mental health supports. Under Premier Ford, the Government is investing $90 million, which includes an additional $10 million for the 2022-2023 school year.

Quick Facts

  • In 2020-21, almost 351,000 students in Ontario relied on special education programs and services, or about 17.3 per cent of the total student population.
  • The ministry is providing ongoing funding to associations for principals, the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario and Geneva Centre for Autism to develop resources and provide professional learning for educators to help them support students with special education needs.
  • The ministry is continuing to provide funding to select school boards to pilot a transition-to-work program. Participating school boards partner with businesses and community agencies to provide competitive employment opportunities for students with developmental disabilities.
  • The Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility is providing $6 million in application-based funding for school boards to implement initiatives to prevent and remove accessibility barriers and thus improve outcomes for students with special education needs/disabilities. Funded projects will address a number of accessibility barriers identified in the Education Standards Development Committee report.


“We (DSAO) are appreciative of the renewed focus from this Ontario government and the partnering support from Minister Stephen Lecce in the key area of education. We continue to encourage individuals with Down syndrome to strive for their best, and this funding will support families across Ontario with clear, relevant and consistent resources to achieve their goals which will enrich their lives.”

– Domenic Gentilini
Chair, Down Syndrome Association of Ontario

“CDI is delighted to partner with the Ministry of Education to support students with behavioural difficulties to reach their full potential. SNAP is an evidence-based early intervention children’s mental health program designed to strengthen social emotional learning. By teaching children how to stop and think before they act and make better choices ‘in the moment,’ SNAP helps keep children in school and out of trouble. As we work together with educators and student support services, SNAP and the EARL needs assessment tool provide vital resources to improve overall student mental health, safety and well-being.”

– Leena K. Augimeri, PhD
Director, Program Development and SNAP Co-Founder, Child Development Institute

“The past two years have been exceptionally difficult for a charity like Children at Risk, and the families we serve raising children with autism (ASD). Our charity relies on fundraising, donations and grants to be able to offer essential respite programs for these special-needs students – like March Break Camp. Without this timely and generous funding from the Ministry of Education, Children at Risk would not have been able to extend this critically important support due to cancelled fundraising events throughout the pandemic.”

– Brenda Reisch
Executive Director, Children at Risk

“I’m proud of our government for taking meaningful action to promote acceptance and inclusion for students of all abilities. These new educational resources will provide powerful supports for students with Down syndrome and for their parents and caregivers.”

– Robin Martin
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Member of Provincial Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence

“Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government took action to ensure Children at Risk could continue to offer programs for children with autism. Through this investment, families will be able to continue to rely on programs, like Camp Kaleidoscope, that have been so helpful for my family when my brother needed them.”

– Jeremy Roberts
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Member of Provincial Parliament for Ottawa West-Nepean

“We are committed to preventing and removing barriers to accessibility in the education sector for students with disabilities. We continue to collaborate with many partners to help advance accessibility and create an Ontario that is open and accessible for all students.”

– Raymond Cho
Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

Related Topics

Education and Training

Learn about Ontario’s early years, education and training systems. Includes information on child care, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities, skills training and financial aid. Learn more


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Media Contacts

Grace Lee
Minister’s Office

Ingrid Anderson
Communications Branch