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Government of Ontario Invests in Arts Programming for At-Risk Children

Ontario is supporting community building. arts programming, and support for priority neighbourhoods

Toronto, Ontario – May 8, 2018 – Ontario is supporting community building, arts programming, and support for priority neighbourhoods by investing in an after-school music education and social development program for at-risk children.

Today, The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MPP (Scarborough-Guildwood) announced that the Government of Ontario will provide $500,000 in funding to Sistema Toronto as part of an investment of $21 million over three years to provide students with access and exposure to arts education in dance, drama, music and visual arts.

Sistema Toronto currently serves 250 students and their families in neighbourhoods with some of Toronto’s highest child poverty rates – Parkdale, Jane-Finch, and East Scarborough. Sistema Toronto students develop crucial social skills like empathy, problem-solving, and communication while learning music together. Though social development is the primary goal, each student learns an orchestral instrument (violin, viola, cello, or double bass), percussion, choir, and Music & Movement and music theory. Children receive instruction with professional musicians, instruments to learn on, a daily nutritious snack, and a community of support helping them succeed in all areas of life all at no cost to participants’ families.

This funding will allow Sistema Toronto to bring more at-risk children into the program, as there are currently waiting lists at all three centres. The program will also be expanded to include more movement activities in all program areas and resources to enrich students’ learning experience.


“Our government is committed to the education of our children. There are many benefits of musical education it improves memory, motor coordination, confidence, and provides a means of self-expression - I have seen this first hand through Sistema. This one-time investment to Sistema Toronto will allow for the expansion of their program, allowing them to serve even more at-risk children from low-income homes.”

-        The Hon. Mitzie Hunter, MPP (Scarborough-Guildwood)

“Support from the Government of Ontario is monumental for our organization. Sistema Toronto provides vital support to vulnerable children and their families and we’ll be able to better serve our community with this funding. Our team is excited to expand our reach by welcoming more students into our program and look forward to seeing all that we can achieve thanks to this government support.”  

-        Christie Gray, Executive Director of Sistema Toronto


  •  As announced in September 2017 is investing $49 million over three years to develop and strengthen programs that improve students' cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development.  

  • Ontario has made a commitment in developing an Education Accessibility Standard to help address barriers that prevent students with disabilities from reaching their full potential, and further support their ability to participate in society and the job market. 


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