Full-day JK/SK Ontario Liberal boondoggle?

What would you say if I suggested that parents place their children in a full day child care program that was going to cost them $42,857.00 a year? Based on 50 weeks a year and 5 days a week, that works out to around $172.00 a day or $25.00 an hour. Very expensive childcare indeed! 

Well, according to the National Post’s Kenyon Wallace  (h/t Jack),  the recently announced Ontario full-day junior and senior kindergarten is going to cost just that — plus much more because I am not including any capital costs. And, of course, all paid for by Ontario taxpayers.

Which means, without a doubt, a good idea ill-conceived, ill-timed and badly implemented is going to become a structural deficit that no political party will ever escape. Doubts? Well, here are the facts:

  1. The government is promising two adults — an elementary school teacher and an early childhood educator — in every classroom. While the teachers’ unions are happy with that decision, just imagine the cost for a qualified elementary school teacher and a well-trained early childhood educator — when one in the morning and one in the afternoon would have been just fine.
  2. There will be no capital funding for school boards to get ready for this program, year over year — which means they will be running deficits if they need to increase space.
  3. The government is not providing school boards with enough funding to cover the extra personnel costs. For example, the Toronto District School Board will have a salary shortfall of $817,000 in the first year of the program, rising to $1.7 million in 2011.
  4. This year 600 elementary schools and 35,000 students will begin the program at a cost of $1.5 billion.
  5. The government intends to have approximately 50,000 children in the program by 2011 and 240,000 by 2015.
  6. If 35,000 students are going to cost the Ontario taxpayer $1.5 billion per year, 240,000 students will cost $10.2 billion a year in 2010 dollars — not counting any capital costs to school boards.
  7. If it costs $1.5 billion for 35,000 students or $10.2 billion for 240,000 students, that works out to $42,857 per child per year.

So, while the cost of this program is horrendous and at a time when the province and country are just coming out of a recession, the fact it is so ill-conceived makes matters even worse.

Why, for example, did the program have to be universal? We have known for decades that children who attend schools in disadvantaged neighbourhoods do extremely well in head-start programs. Why, then didn’t the McGuinty government offer this type of program selectively rather than make it universal?

The crux of the matter is that this is going to be a huge Ontario Liberal government boondoggle — at taxpayers expense — that Ontarians will still be paying when the young children about to attend will be parents themselves!

Update: Since this “universal” program is for just ten months of the year, my figures are actually too low. If you remove July and August, two weeks at Christmas and one week in March, that works out to 37 weeks. So, $42,857.00 a year equals $1158.00 a week, $ 231.00 dollars a day or $33.00 an hour for seven hours. Far too expensive to be paid for by all taxpayers, whether they have children or not or whether they have already brought up their children or not. Besides, what do parents do for those weeks and months outside of school?

Endnote:  Here are two other posts I have written on this subject.