It seems another example has arisen of the Ford government blinking again after even just hinting at the possibility of ending a popular government program.
Days after the government announced they were looking to do consultations and raising the possibility that all day kindergarten could end after 2019, they have seemingly backed off on that idea.
“We have been clear from the beginning that we are listening to parents and consulting with our education partners to modernize and improve Ontario’s education system from kindergarten to Grade 12. There has been speculation around the issue of full-day kindergarten,” Education Minister Lisa Thompson said in this statement.
“Let me be clear, we are absolutely committed to full day learning for four- and five-year-olds across the province. We value the experience and perspectives of our education partners and through the consultation we look forward to hearing their feedback.”
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However, there was some confusion as to what the minister’s statement actually meant, specifically when Thompson said ‘learning’ instead of ‘kindergarten’.
Just got clarity on Education Minister’s statement. Parents can count on some form of all day learning beyond next year, it may not be exactly what’s in place right now. Bottom line is all day kindergarten costs 1.5 billion a year, gov looking to cut costs. #onpoli
— Cynthia Mulligan (@CityCynthia) February 1, 2019
The former McGuinty Liberal government introduced all day kindergarten in 2010. Although it came with the hefty price tag, the former government insisted that parents were saving an average of $6,500 a year, as the financial burden of before-and-after school care shifted from families to the government.
But when the Ford government took office, one of the promises they made was to find $6 billion in government efficiencies, and since then a number of programs had been put on the chopping block. Critics have pointed out a series of cuts to education that had previously been announced.
Sam Hammond, the President of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, said he was pleased the government appears to be keeping the program, but wondered if that meant the learning model still includes a teacher and an ECE.In the end, it may come down to a perceived difference between the primary goals of ‘learning’ and ‘kindergarten’. While both have an education component, some may perceive two words to mean two different things altogether.
As this story changed within the past two days or so, this is just another example of this Ford government announcing plans by the seat of their pants.