Deliver on full-day kindergarten promise parties told

    TORONTO, Oct. 3 /CNW Telbec/ - A cross section of Ontario's who's who has
released an open letter calling on the political parties in the next
legislature to prioritize the promise of full-day kindergarten. Both the
Liberals and the New Democrats have committed new funding to turn half day
programs for four and five year olds into a full-school day.
    "Flying under the radar in this election is one of the most
transformational plans to hit public education in many decades," says the
Honourable Margaret McCain, a sponsor of the letter. "Full-day kindergarten is
about better health, fairness, equity and a best start on a lifetime of
    The petition, signed by over 60 individuals and organizations, demands
quick action, adequate funding, a design that recognizes parents' work
commitments and immediate financial help for Ontario's floundering child care

    Letter and signatories follow.

             An Open Letter to all the political parties in the
           2007 Ontario election campaign on full-day kindergarten
                               and child care

    This provincial election has seen a unique convergence of ideas with two
political parties promising to introduce full-day kindergarten. The strategy
delivers a double benefit. First, it provides free access to consistent
quality programming for all four and five year olds. Second, it releases
almost 42,000 child care spaces and 17,000 subsidies to address the child care
needs of other age groups.
    Ontario needs a comprehensive early learning and child care system for
children from 0-12, and beginning with four and five year olds make sense.
This approach starts where Ontario's early childhood services are already
publicly-funded and attended by virtually all age-eligible children. It
maximizes resources by adding new funding to an existing half-day program to
create a full school-day of early learning and child care.
    Publicly funded, full-day kindergarten provides a foundation for life-long
learning, support for working families and helps reduce child poverty.
Universal kindergarten is an environment where young children learn to respect
diversity, thereby supporting social inclusion in an increasingly diverse
Ontario. It is a critical part of the social justice agenda that Ontarians
    Full-day kindergarten is clearly a bold and intelligent policy initiative,
celebrated by Ontario parents and meeting the approval of critical
stakeholders. Doing it right, however, will require that full-day kindergarten
is firmly entrenched in a broad, long-term and visionary plan for early
childhood education and child care. If this program is to be truly optimal for
children and families, the next Ontario government must take several
additional actions.
    The undersigned are calling on all the political parties in this election
to make young children a first priority by committing to:

    - Fast-tracking implementation of the full-day kindergarten so it
      becomes fully operational for all four and five year olds during the
      next mandate
    - Adequately funding a child-focused, play-based curriculum delivered by
      appropriately trained and compensated professionals
    - Ensuring that the design of the new kindergarten program acknowledges
      the labour force commitments of parents through a seamless approach to
      full workday, full-year early learning and child care.
    - Providing immediate funding to address quality and stability issues in
      existing full day kindergarten and child care programs serving infants,
      toddlers and school-age children.

    Sincerely yours,

    Honourable Margaret Norrie McCain, Dr. Fraser Mustard, Dr. Stuart Shanker
    Co-Authors, Early Years Study
    Joan Arruda, Family Day Care Services
    Tom Axworthy, Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen's University
    Derek Ballantyne, Toronto Community Housing
    Morna Ballantyne, Code Blue for Child Care
    Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians
    Jane Bertrand, Ontario Best Start Expert Panel on Early Learning
    Arthur Biefeld, RabbiEmeritus, Temple Emanu-El, Toronto
    Shellie Bird, Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care
    Martha Lee-Blickstead, The Chang School of Continuing Education Ryerson
    Deborah Bourque, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
    John Campey, Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
    Patricia Chorney Rubin, School of Early Childhood, George Brown College
    Dr. Gordon Cleveland, Dept of Management, U of T at Scarborough
    Charles S. Coffey, OC
    Sue Colley, Building Blocks for Child Care (B2C2)
    David Cooke, Former Minister of Education, Ontario
    Dr. Michael Cooke, Vice-President Academic, George Brown College
    Dr. Carl Corter, University of Toronto, Atkinson Charitable Foundation
    Chair in Society and Early Child Development
    Janet Davis, Councillor, City of Toronto
    Cheryl DeGras, Early Learning Centre, University of Toronto
    Dr. Brian Desbiens Past President, Fleming College
    Dr. John R. Evans, Chair, MaRS
    Mary Ferguson-Paré, President, Registered Nurses Association of Ontario
    Robert Fox, Oxfam Canada
    Martha Friendly, Childcare Resource and Research Unit
    Nathan Gilbert, Laidlaw Foundation
    Carol Gott, Rural Voices
    Buzz Hargrove, Canadian Autoworkers
    Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, Ontario Nurses Association
    John Hoffman, Columnist, Today's Parent Magazine
    Michael Hurley, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions
    Jamie Kass, Canadian Union of Postal Workers Child Care Fund
    Bruce Kidd, Dean Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of
    Annie Kidder, People for Education
    Veronica Lacey, The Learning Partnership
    Deena Ladd, Social Justice Advocate
    Dr. Rachel Langford, Early Childhood Education, Ryerson University
    Frances Lankin, United Way of Greater Toronto
    Dr. Donna S. Lero, Jarislowsky Chair in Families & Work, University of
    Guelph and Chair, Best Start Expert Panel on Quality and Human Resources,
    Rianne Mahon, Institute of Political Economy and Chancellor's Professor,
    Carleton University
    Mike McCracken, Infometrica, Ottawa.
    Kerry McCuaig, Better Child Care Education Inc.
    Heather McGregor, YWCA, Toronto
    Michael Mendelson, Caledon Institute of Social Policy
    Paul Moist, Canadian Union of Public Employees
    Gail Nyberg, Daily Bread Food Bank
    Ratna Omidvar, Maytree Foundation
    Dr. Charles Pascal, Former Deputy Minister of Education, Ontario
    Dr. Gail Robinson, YWCA Toronto
    Laurel Rothman, Campaign 2000
    Wayne Samuelson, Ontario Federation of Labour
    Paulette Senior, YWCA Canada
    Anita Shilton, Dean, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education
    Ryerson University
    Brian F. C. Smith, WoodGreen Community Services
    Eduarda Sousa, Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario
    Adam Spence, Ontario Association of Food Banks
    Dick Stewart, Former Commissioner of Social Services, Regional
    Municipality Of Ottawa-Carleton
    Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Ontario Public Employees Service Union
    Dr. Linda A. White, Department of Political Science, University of
    Beverley Wybrow, Canadian Women's Foundation

For further information:

For further information: Kerry McCuaig, (647) 295-2808

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