The Canadian Press: Ontario Announces $1.5 billion all day learning for four and five year olds

Jan 13, 2010

Each class will include a teacher, an early childhood educator and about 26 children - higher than the current primary class cap of 20 to 23 kids.
Parents can pay extra for child care before 9 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m., which would be staffed by early childhood educators. Those fees will be determined locally by school boards, although subsidies will be available for poor families.

NDP Leader Andrew Horwath criticized the Liberal government's implementation of the program. "They were anxious to get some good news out the door and instead of putting in a fully acceptable program that's available to all families they've had no choice but to stagger it," she said.  "We saw six years of good economic times where this government could have made some of these things happen but instead they dragged their feet and now in the most difficult budget times is when they decide to do it."

The program will require hiring 3,800 new teachers and more than 20,000 new early childhood educators over the next five years, McGuinty said.

Full-day learning will also free up about 20,000 daycare spaces in Ontario, which would allow younger children to take the place of four-and five-year-olds who will end up in elementary schools, he added.

Education Minister Kathleen Wynne will sit down with the province's school boards and make sure that funding is being "properly allocated," McGuinty said.

"The purpose of this is not to impose new costs on our school board," he said. "It is to fund a new program - to fully fund a new program."
But parents may encounter a roadblock even if their child's school has been selected for full-day learning. If a school can't accommodate the high demand for enrolment, it's up to the school boards to decide which child will get a spot.

Busing will only be provided before and after school hours, which means parents will have to make other arrangements if they want their child to enrol in the extended day programming.

Parents who don't want their children to be in school all day will also have to make their own travel arrangements at the beginning or end of their child's day. Or they can ask their school board to switch their child to another school that offers the half-day program, government officials said.
School boards are also being told to offer similar services to children aged six to 12 at other times of the year if there is enough parental demand.
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec offer all-day kindergarten for five-year-olds. Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec offer some programs for four-year-olds.

British Columbia is planning to offer full-day kindergarten to all of its five-year-olds by 2011, starting with at least half of its schools next September.

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