Parents, politicians meet on all-day kindergarten

Kindergarten will be an all-day learning program in Ontario starting in 2014.

Four schools in East York have already implemented the full-day kindergarten program and 11 more are expected to have full-day kindergarten by 2013.

Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns hosted a childcare meeting on Jan. 30 at Roden Public School to address concerns regarding full-day kindergarten. Also in attendance were city councillors Mary Fragedakis and Paula Fletcher, and TDSB trustees Cathy Dandy and Sheila Cary-Meagher.

Dandy said that although the all-day kindergarten program is a “real win” for some parents, others might find it disruptive.

“Most people in my neighbourhood are really, really excited about full-day kindergarten and the seamless day,” Becky McFarlaae said.

McFarlaae also thinks the provincial government “dropped the ball” on the full-day kindergarten initiative.

“This is a clear example of an utter lack of leadership on the part of the government to actually articulate a vision in which one can buy into or not buy into or push against or offer something else,” McFarlaae said.

The full-day kindergarten program will provide free education and supervision to four and five-year-olds during regular school hours. Some schools will also provide optional before and after school programs for a fee. These programs will run from 7 until 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. They will be implemented at select schools where there is enough demand.

Four and five-year-old children are not the only ones affected by full-day kindergarten. Childcare centres will lose some of their clientele and revenue. The losses will result in higher fees for infants and toddlers, and some childcare centres may close. In East York, it’s estimated that 16 per cent of childcare centres are at risk of closing their doors.

“When you hear about (provincial) financial mismanagement… you have to wonder if the problem with childcare in Toronto is not an issue of funds but an issue of priorities,” Fragedakis said.