Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 06, 2009

McGuinty's Dilemma: Kids Or DRIC

You are the Premier of a have-not Province that used to be the richest one in Canada. Your deficit has grown to the multi-multi billions, so much so that your Minister of Finance can barely mention the number without choking.

However, somehow you have found a spare $1.5B to play with.

You could use it to build the most expensive road in Ontario's history in Windsor, an area where the sitting MPP/Cabinet Ministers are virtually unbeatable and the small-town Mayor does not know his place and keeps on attacking you.

OR you could use the money for children across the Province including ridings where sitting members are at risk and in Opposition ridings where you could take a seat or two. Moreover, there are going to be some nasty election issues that are coming up and you do need some good news.

What to do with it? What to do?

Kids or DRIC. DRIC or kids.

I think I know the answer

  • "With full-day kindergarten, McGuinty builds a legacy

    Mr. McGuinty, there to announce the details of his early learning plan, was plainly excited. And why wouldn't he be? More than anything else he's done in office, and more than anything else he'll do going forward, this was him leaving an indelible mark on his province...

    But with full-day kindergarten, the initiative at the heart of the early learning plan, Mr. McGuinty has found his sweet spot - a policy that he desperately wants to be remembered for, and one that future governments will find very difficult to make Ontarians forget.

    "It's not the only test," Mr. McGuinty said in an interview last month. "But one important test of public policy is, do I think that anybody would seek to undo this. I find it hard to see somebody seeking to undo this..."

    For a projected annual cost of $1.5-billion, then, Mr. McGuinty has acquired a legacy. And because nobody wants their legacy to be half-assed, he has gone further than expected in adopting Dr. Pascal's recommendations - notably fee-based before- and after-school programs not just for kindergarten students, but (where demand warrants) for older children as well. After months of hints that the Liberals would stick fairly rigidly to their previous campaign commitment, which was just all-day kindergarten, some schools are going to look quite a bit like the community hubs Dr. Pascal envisioned.

    No wonder Mr. McGuinty was in such a buoyant mood yesterday

  • "Ontario's roll out of all-day kindergarten to take five years: source

    Premier Dalton McGuinty will announce Tuesday that it will take Ontario five years to phase in a much-touted plan to offer all-day kindergarten for all four- and five-year-olds, The Canadian Press has learned.

    Some 35,000 kids – about 16 per cent the eligible junior and senior kindergarten students in the education system – will be offered full-day learning next September, but the program will be fully implemented across the province by 2015, a government source said....

    The logistics of the scheme are almost overwhelming. But Mr. Pascal said he's feeling “very positive” that Tuesday's announcement will mark a new beginning for the province.

    “This is absolutely critical for the social and economic progress of our province,” he said in an interview.

    If you compare all-day kindergarten to other stimulus ventures like bridge-building and road repairs, the investment in children is the project that “keeps on giving,” he said.

    With early learning, children are better prepared for elementary school and parents seeking supports for their kids are no longer navigating a “fragmented” system, he said.

    “There is no better return on a taxpayer's investment than early learning in terms of our future progress,” Mr. Pascal added.

    All-day kindergarten should be a priority for the Ontario Liberals because it would create a foundation for other positive changes in education, said Annie Kidder of People for Education.

    “Economically, it does makes sense, even though we're in a recession,” she added.

    “In terms of actually getting ourselves out long-term of a deficit [and] providing more economic stability, investing in early childhood and education have the best cost-benefits of any government investment.”