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.