While there is no doubt most parents and childcare providers in Ontario’s larger centres are delighted with the pending full-day junior and senior kindergarten program — usually referred to as the “Early Learning Program” or ELP — many in smaller and rural communities are not.
Why? Because, whether intentional or not, the ELP will:
- Put hundreds of private and regional subsidized daycare centres out of business;
- Mean huge Early Childhood Educator (ECE) job losses that won’t necessarily be translated into ELP positions, and
- Result in parents actually having fewer childcare choices than they have now.
For example, read this article by Scott Dunn in the Owen Sound Sun Times. The title says it all: “Parents, care providers dislike kindergarten change — Bluewater Board plan criticized for making scheduling more difficult” (h/t Catherine).
Now, I am not against the ELP per se. Most parents I have talked to are excited about it. My problem is its universal nature and the timing of its implementation — a time when there should be a freeze on new spending rather than spending on new, plush programs.
However, as is usually the case with anything the McGuinty Liberal government does, it’s full speed ahead and damn the torpedos regardless of a $25 billion and ever climbing deficit. Instead, the government has committed to spending taxpayers dollars they don’t have on a long-term program that will involve highly paid unionized workers — and all that implies.