The Nova Scotia government says every four-year-old child now has access to the province’s free pre-primary program.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Education Minister Zach Churchill announced Friday that Nova Scotia has finished rolling out the program, which is now available in 253 communities with elementary schools.

“Which is giving every child, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances, the best start in life,” said McNeil during the announcement at Colby Village Elementary School in Dartmouth, N.S. “We can now safely call ourselves a pre-primary province."

The province is spending roughly $51.4 million this year to deliver the pre-primary program.

The province says more than 14,000 children have attended the program since it was first launched in 2017. More than 5,900 children enrolled in 379 classes in 2020-21.

“We’re starting to see some great results in the beginning, but to see the real benefit of this, it’ll be 20 years from now,” said McNeil. “This really is an investment in our province to ensure that every young person is given that same opportunity.”

Churchill says the province has hired and created jobs for over 850 early childhood educators to roll out the program.

He also says, if there is an increase in demand, the province is prepared to add more classes.

“This program is for every single four-year-old, so every single four-year-old in Nova Scotia will have access to this, and if that means additional hires or additional class space, we’ll be mandated to do that,” he said.

The Nova Scotia government has also completed its rollout of busing for eligible pre-primary children. Roughly 2,600 pre-primary students are taking the bus to school this year. 

Families who wish to register their child for pre-primary can contact their regional centre for education or the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial.