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Author Topic: Don't expect Mary Poppins  (Read 1964 times)

Offline CareDC

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Don't expect Mary Poppins
« on: April 23, 2010, 02:14:28 PM »
Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean-Carleton, found out the hard way that Ontario's new all-day kindergarten will be somewhat less flexible than families were led to believe.

Her five-year-old was denied the opportunity to remain in half-day programming, because the school was chosen for full-day kindergarten. Alarming, yes, but not surprising. Province-wide, taxpayer-funded early learning programs spell the end of choice in child care.

The rhetoric says otherwise, to be sure. All-day kindergarten has long been framed as just another choice for parents. Indeed, when Dr. Charles Pascal released his early learning report to Premier Dalton McGuinty in June 2009, it sounded heavenly. Community-based hubs in schools would allow parents to come and go as they wished, in and out of a seamless day of care.

This sort of scenario is about as likely to happen as Mary Poppins ringing your doorbell with an offer to prepare supper. So how exactly is the Ontario Ministry of Education legislating choice out of existence?

For starters, simply by introducing a monolithic taxpayer funded plan -- legitimate and regulated child care providers can't compete. When the government subsidizes a service, it means others are put out of business.

All-day kindergarten also takes five-year-olds out of existing centres. These children are a day-care's bread and butter. Care of five-year-olds is substantially cheaper than infant care, which runs into the tens of thousands of dollars annually. Since no child-care centre could possibly charge parents the true infant price, they have balanced their businesses by charging less than the real cost for younger kids and more for older ones. The older ones who will now enter the "free" state centres.


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