On the eve of Earth Day, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced that $550 million would be spent over the next two years to enable schools across the province to be retrofitted with energy-efficient windows, roofs, and cooling and heating systems.
"A vibrant school environment starts from the ground up," McGuinty told Grade 1 and 2 students at the downtown St. Paul Catholic School on Sackville St.
"By retrofitting our schools, we're creating jobs while saving energy and money and teaching our kids about greener ways to live," he said, adding the measures should mean 5,500 new short-term jobs.
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said the money would be flowing out the door immediately.
"One of the reasons that we wanted to get the announcement out was so that boards could plan for those projects and could be doing them over the summer," Wynne said.
She said it would be up to Ontario's 72 public and separate school boards to decide which of the province's 5,000 schools would be repaired, and conceded there could be further closures of some older, unneeded facilities.
"The fact is we have more capacity than we need across the province. Boards have to manage their capital assets given that there are 90,000 fewer kids in the system," the minister said.