McGuinty gov’t full-day kindergarten to cost $3 billion plus

Readers will recall that I have been questioning how much the Ontario McGuinty government’s full-day kindergarten “Early Learning Program” (ELP) is going to cost after full implementation. Well, we already knew the initial costs were $1.5 billion. Now, thanks to Moira MacDonald and the Toronto Sun, we are finding out that full-implementation will cost another $1.5 billion and counting — money that apparently has not been budgeted!!!!

Here is a link to the MacDonald article which was dated April 26th, 2011 and missed because of the federal election campaign.

While I am in favour of the ELP in principle, because we know many young children can benefit from a head start, I am not in favour of it being implemented without the money to pay for it or without planning the roll out process properly. For example, initially there was much fanfare about the fact that school boards would also provide before and after school day care programs. Well, as it turned out, school boards didn’t have the facilities or budget to do that, so McGuinty cancelled it in favour of existing community providers — which actually made better economic sense.

Now, in my opinion, it is not reasonable to suggest the program should be cancelled. Parents now love it and depend on it. But, it is not necessary to implement the program in every single public school in Ontario. I mean, school boards provide busing for special education and other programs, so why not the ELP. Sure, that would cost money as well but not nearly what it would cost to put more teachers and early childhood educators in hundreds of additional classrooms.

Definitely something to talk about.

Good news: Hudak PCs would freeze full-day J/S Kindergarten

Credit Microsoft Clip Art

The sky is falling in Ontario. PC Leader Tim Hudak is now on record as saying, if elected, his government would freeze full-day junior and senior kindergarten (officially called the Early Learning Program) at current levels until the treasury indicated full implementation could proceed. Note that Hudak did NOT say his government would cancel the ELP! Rather, he simply said an Ontario PC government would “freeze” the program until Ontario taxpayers could afford it. 

Meaning, that what the Ontario Liberals are suggesting, indirectly, is that the same 4 and 5 year olds who would benefit from the ELP should be the ones to pay for it once they reach adulthood — which would take the concept of “student debt” to a whole new level! 

However, read this Ottawa Citizen column, “Hudak would freeze all-day kindergarten if he wins election” by Lee Greenberg, and you will know how this year’s Ontario election (October 6, 2011) is going to be fought. Will the McGuinty Liberals run on their record over the last eight years? Will they defend, for example:

  • Their broken promises, 
  • Their health care premium and how it hasn’t improved health care, 
  • Their HST and other tax increases,
  • Their green energy legislation and wind and solar power subsidies that don’t reflect reality; and
  • Their ever-increasing hydro rates?

Not likely.Rather, will they attempt to change the subject and create a crisis like they did with the faith-based funding issue in the 2007 provincial election? Yes, they will.

Leona Dombrowsky, the current Ontario Education Minister is actually quoted in the Citizen article that if the full-day kindergarten/ELP were frozen at current levels “it would create a crisis in the education system.” How? By creating a two-tier education system. Now, how lame is that? School boards currently have selected schools for special education and French immersion. How is this any different? It isn’t. That is just plain spin.

For instance, was there a crisis in the education system when, up to a year ago, junior and senior kindergarten were both a half day? I don’t recall any. I mean, if one school out of five still has the full-day program, all the school boards have to do is bus the children as they do now — assuming parents want that option. 

Then, of course, there is the unfortunate elephant in the room and that is the fact that the Liberals have already CANCELLED the before and after day care option. So, working parents will already have to make other arrangements in that respect.

So, PC Leader Tim Hudak is absolutely right when he says: “For those schools that have it [the ELP], we’ll keep the program. Our ability to expand beyond that is obviously contingent upon the funds that the premier leaves in the treasury.”

What a unique idea! Waiting until the treasury can afford the expansion of the program?

Actually, the only crisis in Ontario right now is that the McGuinty Liberals have taken our once great province from “have” to “have not” status and are not taking any responsibility for their part in that outcome.

Well, Ontarians will not be fooled this time. On October 7th, 2011, there will be a new government in Ontario, a PC government, a government that will bring back prosperity and govern responsibly while living within its means.  And, if that means freezing programs like the full-day kindergarten program, so be it because, as I said at the start of this post, it hardly seems right to leave the Ontario deficit and accumulated debt for today’s 4 and 5 years olds to pay off when they reach adulthood.

Endnotes: Here is what I have written about this topic before, as well as a Google page on the topic. C/P Jack’s Newswatch.

McGuinty gov’t to approve full-day Kindergarten

Can you believe it? Half-day kindergarten is fine the way it is. Very few parents are clammering for change. Yet, the Dalton McGuinty Liberals are pressing ahead with all-day junior and senior kindergarten in spite of a $25 BILLION dollar deficit. Check out this and this (H/T Jack’s Newswatch).

And, they are pressing ahead knowing full well there is a huge fight brewing with the teachers’ unions who are demanding that only qualified teachers teach the full-day. Well, as I have written before, during my career I have taught in both teacher education and Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs and I can say unequivocally that ECE instructors are very well qualified to do what they do. Teachers can be in charge of the formal curriculum (half the day) and ECE instructors the other half — involving resting, play and social interaction.
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McGuinty gov’t to approve full-day Kindergarten

Can you believe it? Half-day kindergarten is fine the way it is. Very few parents are clammering for change. Yet, the Dalton McGuinty Liberals are pressing ahead with all-day junior and senior kindergarten in spite of a $25 BILLION dollar deficit. Check out this and this (H/T Jack’s Newswatch).

And, they are pressing ahead knowing full well there is a huge fight brewing with the teachers’ unions who are demanding that only qualified teachers teach the full-day. Well, as I have written before, during my career I have taught in both teacher education and Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs and I can say unequivocally that ECE instructors are very well qualified to do what they do. Teachers can be in charge of the formal curriculum (half the day) and ECE instructors the other half — involving resting, play and social interaction.
Continue reading