Ontario has a huge $18+ BILLION dollar deficit and is now a “HAVE-NOT” province. Yet, you would never guess it given the decisions coming out of the McGuinty Liberal government. Yesterday, for example, we found out that the full-day “Early Learning Program” (ELP) for four and five-year olds that was rolled out last September in selected schools, would add another 900 schools in September 2011. I will repeat that.
NINE HUNDRED more schools!
So, how many more early childhood and elementary school teachers do you think will be needed to staff ELP programs in 900 more schools — which by the way are scheduled to start exactly one month before the 2011 Ontario election? Even if there were only one extra classroom in each of those 900 schools, there would need to be at least one qualified teacher and one “Early Childhood Educator.” Meaning, we are looking at the public school boards in Ontario hiring upwards to 1800 more employees, at a very minimum!
So, if the first part of the program involved $1.5 billion, then we are likely looking at another similar amount, in spite of the many problems being experienced now. For instance:
- We know that some communities don’t want the program;
- We also know that some communities are experiencing conflicts and logistics problems between existing non-profit and private day care operators and the before and after day care programs — which is why McGuinty gave up on that idea;
- Then, there are dozens of infrastructure-related problems, such as no capital funding to build more classrooms or to increase parking spaces for the increased numbers of teachers and parents at existing schools.
- And, of course, there really isn’t any parent choice, other than send your child for a full-day or keep them at home until they are six years old.
So, what does it all mean? Well, Premier Dalton McGuinty and the McGuinty caucus are hoping that young parents will suddenly forget how high their hydro bills are and that all the wasted money on wind farms and green energy boondoggles will be forgotten. They also likely hope that the teachers’ unions and their members will support the Liberals for all the largess they are going to receive on behalf of the Ontario taxpayer.
Well, I don’t think so! There is an old saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In other words, we will not be fooled a third time.
Will the Ontario PCs and its leader Tim Hudak cancel the ELP? Not likely. As PC MPP Jim Wilson says in this CTV article, they simply would not expand it any further. Why would they not cancel it? First of all, because some kids in some communities will benefit from a head start. Secondly, because no one is going to take away a program young parents have gotten used to and for the most part, like.
However, will the extension of the ELP into 900 more schools be a gift to the teachers’ unions? Absolutely!