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B.C. sets up $60-million back-to-school affordability fund for families

BURNABY, B.C. — The British Columbia government says it wants to ease the burden of back-to-school costs with a one-time $60-million fund that expands meal programs and helps families pay for supplies and field trips.
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B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside attends the official opening of the relocated New Westminster Secondary School, in New Westminster, B.C., on Thursday, October 14, 2021. British Columbia is looking to make back-to-school costs more affordable with a one-time $60 million fund that expands meal programs and helps pay for supplies and field trips. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

BURNABY, B.C. — The British Columbia government says it wants to ease the burden of back-to-school costs with a one-time $60-million fund that expands meal programs and helps families pay for supplies and field trips.

Families are already struggling with rising costs due to inflation and the government's fund aims to take the sting out of costs associated with the return to school next month, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said Monday.

The back-to-school affordability fund is one of several measures the government plans to announce in the coming days to help people hard hit by inflation, she said at a news conference.

"As we look forward to the start of the school year, I want to reaffirm our government's commitment to making life more affordable for British Columbians, and to note that this is the first of several measures we will be rolling out in the weeks ahead to help people deal with the cost-of-living pressures they are experiencing right now," said Whiteside.

Whiteside said each of B.C.'s 60 school districts will receive a minimum of $250,000.

School districts will use the money to expand in-school meal programs, ensure students have required supplies and cover fees for activities, including field trips, she said.

The school districts will work with parent advisory councils, communities and local First Nations to address student priorities, Whiteside said.

"This fund will be used by school districts to expand school food and meal programs and to reduce additional costs to parents for things like field trips and school supplies," she said. "We want to support students and families and relieve some of the financial pressures for families throughout B.C. who need it right now."

The president of B.C.'s Confederation of Advisory Councils said the affordability initiative will allow individual schools and school districts to provide relief to families in need.

Chris Schultz-Lorentzen said families will be encouraged to reach out to their local advisory councils and school principals to get a share of the funding.

The Ministry of Education said the government will also provide $3.8 million to the Federation of Independent Schools Association of B.C. to help struggling families with students at independent schools.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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