NS NDP

June 29th, 2017

Liberal plan for 30 pre-primary programs may only mean 14 new centres

Cabinet meeting cancelled despite questions

HALIFAX – New information obtained by the NDP Caucus suggests there could be as few as 14 new pre-primary centres opened by the Liberals.

There are currently 16 existing programs for 4 year olds that are funded directly by the province. Eight of these programs are through the Early Years Centres, and another eight are through Schools Plus and other programs.

"There's a big difference between 30 new centres and 14 new centres," said Claudia Chender, NDP spokesperson for Education and Early Childhood Development. "Parents, teachers, and early childhood educators deserve to know the true number of new pre-primary programs we can expect in September."

During the election, McNeil claimed he would open 30 new pre-primary programs in September. Last week, however, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Zach Churchill quickly changed his tune explaining that the 30 programs would include 22 new centres and the existing eight Early Years Centres originally opened by the NDP.

It is unclear how the pre-primary programs at Schools Plus locations, fit into the Liberal plan. If they are included in the total of 30 sites, then the Liberals would need to open just 14 new sites. According to the Liberal platform, the 30 new sites were supposed to help 750 children access pre-primary. If only 14 new sites are opened this means only 400 additional children will be able to access the program.

Despite these pressing questions, Stephen McNeil cancelled today's cabinet meeting.

"We are just two months away from September and there are a lot of unanswered questions about this pre-primary program," said Gary Burrill, Leader of the NDP. "It is concerning that the Premier thinks it's appropriate to cancel a cabinet meeting when parents, teachers, and early childhood educators are anxious for answers."

There are also 15 French-language pre-primary programs at Counseil scholaire acadien provincial (CSAP) schools that are partially funded by the federal government. It is also unclear how these sites will fit into the Liberals’ plan.

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Click here for a full list of pre-primary locations.