Education Minister Brad Trivers faced questions about the province’s plans to roll-out universal preschool for four-year olds.
During question period on Thursday, Liberal MLA Robert Mitchell asked Trivers about how working parents would benefit. The PC platform had pledged $5 million for “universal, half-day community-based preschool for four-year olds”.
“Why is this only half-day? Are parents who cannot afford to pay the remaining half-day expected to pick up their children at the end of this half-day program?" Mitchell asked Trivers.
In response, Trivers said the plan would be for the program to be community-based. Trivers said the province planned to roll-out the program as early as fall of 2020.
"A child can attend a half-day pre-kindergarden and be at the same centre where there'll be the other half-the-day in the vast majority, if not all, cases," Trivers said
Mitchell then asked if the registration process for four year old was on schedule for the program to be rolled out in fall 2020.
“The kindergarden children, the five year olds are being registered right now for next year. Are these four year olds being registered right now, Mr. Minister?" Mitchell asked.
In response, Trivers said the new program would not use the same model as the province’s kindergarden registration.
"Pre-kindergarden is going to be community-based, it's going to be located in communities at existing early years centres," Trivers said.
"So the registration process won't be the same."
Mitchell argued the program could not be deemed "universal".
"I think the honourable minister needs to open up the computer and google the definition of universal," Mitchell said.
In response, Trivers said the program would be offered to all four year olds in the province. He also said the program would be voluntary for parents, who would have the choice of opting in.