Future of full-day kindergarten in doubt as the province looks at 'what's working'

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The future of full-day kindergarten is in doubt after Ontario's education minister revealed the Ford government will hold consultations to determine whether the policy is working.     

Minister Lisa Thompson said the program would be available this upcoming fall, but would not commit to keeping the program beyond the 2019-2020 school year. 

"We're consulting with our education partners in terms of what's working and what's not," Thompson told reporters during an announcement at the Scarborough Boys and Girls Club. 

Thompson disagreed with the notion that full-day kindergarten is "on the chopping block" but said parents and school boards should "stay tuned" for any updates on the program's future. 

Introduced in 2010 by the former Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty, full-day kindergarten has been a costly measure, with a price tag of over a billion dollars. 

However, the former government maintained 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. 

The Liberals also pointed to a study, conducted in partnership with Queen’s and McMaster universities, that highlighted the benefits of full-day kindergarten. It suggested students in full-day kindergarten were better prepared to enter Grade 1. 

"Overall, Grade 1 reading, writing and math scores are 5% higher for FDK students, while reading alone is 6.4% higher for FDK students," stated a 2016 news release from the Ministry of Education. 

NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles called the move "terrifying" for parents. 

"The Minister needs to take this off the table immediately," Stiles said in a tweet. "The research is overwhelmingly supportive of FDK. This is yet another example of the destructive direction the #FordGovernment is taking our province. NOBODY asked for this. NOBODY."

Premier Doug Ford has promised to find 4 per cent savings across the provincial budget, amounting to a $6 billion reduction in spending.

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