Here is a letter I wrote to my MPP:

Doug Downey,

My last email to you was long. I don’t know what your schedule for returning emails tends to be, but I look forward to your response. However, today I’m writing you on a related but different topic.

Last week Doug Ford wouldn’t commit to full day kindergarten for the 2020-2021 school year.1 This concerned me but my email was already too long. Today I would like to ask about this. I’m aware that Lisa Thompson clarified that there would be ‘full-day learning’2 of some form delivered in some undefined way if and when full day kindergarten is scrapped.

Certainly this alleviates some fears about working parents not having the ability to find affordable childcare if they need to be at work, and the lack of childcare spaces. It also alleviates my fears of turning the pre-grade 1 program into nothing more than childcare. Learning is important and students entering grade 1 with a solid grasp of the fundamentals is required for students success.

I support full-day government funded programs for kindergarten-aged students. I also support full-day learning.

I oppose downgrading full-day kindergarten-aged learning by removing full-time teachers from kindergarten classrooms. I also oppose increasing the ratio of students to teachers in a class. A kindergarten class should have a teacher, a DECE (designated early childhood education) staff and EAs (educational assistants) as required. Do not increase the number of students a teacher is responsible for. Do not replace teacher-led hours with non-teacher hours in the classroom.

Doug Ford specifically said that the budget must be cut to balance the books.1,3 But last year he campaigned on a ‘middle class’ tax cut that would mostly benefit the rich.4 In the fall, the Ford Government put forward a tax cut for low income earners that was criticized because it wasn’t as much help to earners as the scrapped minimum wage increase.5 Doug Ford said everyone would have to make sacrifices5 but that doesn’t include requiring businesses to pay a livable wage or to pay their fair share  to provide for the vulnerable and underprivileged.

Also, studies have shown that good education by qualified professionals working together reduces government expenses.8 Solid full-day kindergarten saves social costs, avoids many social problems, helps prevent future educational costs by addressing issues early, increases tax revenue through employment and adds to the economy.9 Full day kindergarten is an investment and preventative measure to save taxpayers money8,9 with a return on investment of approximately 100%.10 That doesn’t even count the economic benefits.

  1. There are already too many students per teacher now. Do you support maintaining the current ratio, or even reducing the number of students at the kindergarten level?
  2. Will you support full day teacher-led kindergarten instruction?
  3. Will you listen to education experts and teachers first and foremost when making your decision?
  4. Doug Ford referenced cutting the budget to deal with the deficit. Have you considered tax raises?
  5. Did you vote for the tax decrease in the fall?
  6. Has the Ford Government considered closing tax loopholes so the wealthy and corporation pay an amount closer to their base tax rate?
  7. If balancing the budget is so important, how do you justify tax cuts that reduce government revenue?
  8. If everyone must make sacrifices for the budget, how do you justify giving people tax cuts at all?
  9. How will we pay for increased educational and social services needs if we reduce teacher-led hours?
  10. How will we maintain or increase our educational outcomes/successes if we reduce teacher-led hours or increase the number of students a teacher leads?

I look forward to your response,

Shawn P. Conroy

Notes and additional reading

  1. Ford government says full-day ‘learning’ will stay, but it won’t necessarily be kindergarten from The Globe and Mail (Video)
  2. Doug Ford government says full-day learning is here to stay in Ontario from The Toronto Star
  3. Ford government says full-day ‘learning’ will stay, but it won’t necessarily be kindergarten from CBC
  4. Reality check: Who will benefit from Doug Ford’s promised tax cut? from Global News
  5. Ontario PCs slash spending and oversight, unveil tax cut and new LCBO hours in 1st economic plan from CBC
  6. The Winners And Losers Of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s Spending Cuts So Far from Huffington Post
  7. Ontario Tories promise low-income tax cut, scale back political fundraising rules in first fiscal outlook from The Globe and Mail
  8. Understanding and Addressing Workforce Shortages in the ECEC Sector (2009) from Child Care Human Resources Sector Council
  9. Early Years Study 3: Making decisions, Taking action from Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation
    Figure 4.3, Page 67 (PDF page 82)
    By Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain, J. Fraser Mustard, Kerry McCuaig
  10. That’s 100% profit. Not breaking even, which would be an ROI of 0%.
  11. I really am sorry this email is so long. It didn’t start out that way.