Ontario Boosting Special Education in the North

Province Providing More Support for 20,000 Students in Thunder Bay

The province is increasing support for approximately 20,000 students with special education needs across Northern Ontario, to help ensure that every student can be successful and reach their full potential. The creation of a new Northern Supports Initiative and increases in the Special Education Grant will benefit approximately 3,159 students in four school boards in Thunder Bay, and help address the unique challenges of school boards operating in Northern Ontario. This new funding will:  

  • Support innovative and cooperative programs and services that deliver special education supports, such as sharing professional support services across school boards, to support children and youth with special education needs in Northern Ontario
  • Provide school boards with additional resources, such as mental health and behavioural support professionals, to ensure students with special education needs have the opportunity to succeed. 
  • Align with other Ontario initiatives, such as the Special Needs Strategy and Moving on Mental Health.  

The targeted increases to the Special Education Grant will also assist school boards operating in remote and rural communities, as well as French language school boards. Enabling more students to achieve success in school and beyond is part of Ontario's plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.  


“Ontario is committed to ensuring that all students, regardless of where they live, have access to the supports they need to succeed in school, and in their lives. These investments are another critical step toward strengthening our publicly funded education system, and raising it to even greater heights."
- Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education 

“I’m proud of the progress Ontario is making to provide school boards with the special education resources they need to support student success. These investments will benefit students in Thunder Bay for years to come.”

- Bill Mauro, MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan 


  • Ontario is investing an additional $22 million annually in special education supports through the new Northern Supports Initiative and increases in the Special Education Grant beginning in the 2017-18 school year, targeted at supporting the unique needs of students in Northern, rural and French language school boards.
  • Thunder Bay school boards will benefit from the Northern Supports Initiative and received nearly $1.4 million in additional Special Education Grant funding.
  • The boards in Thunder Bay benefiting from this investment are: Lakehead DSB, Thunder Bay Catholic DSB, CSD catholique des Aurores boréales and CSD du Grand Nord de l'Ontario (also in Sudbury).
  • Over $13 million of this amount is being provided to Northern school boards. This includes $6 million in Special Education Grant funding which represents a 3 per cent increase over 2016-17.
  • This funding provides school boards with additional special education resources including behavioural supports, psychoeducational services, mental health supports, speech language pathology services, and other paraprofessional services.
  • The 2017 Budget includes an additional investment of $6.4 billion over three years in Ontario's education system. This reflects the government's commitment to help learners reach their full potential by supporting them from full-day kindergarten to postsecondary education and beyond. 


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