Kindergarten for 4-year-olds – a bill to be put on the back burner!

CUPE-Quebec, the largest affiliate of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ) and the SQEESFTQ, which represents members everywhere in Quebec, mostly in the health and social services sector, submitted a joint brief as part of Bill 5, An Act to amend the Education Act and other provisions regarding preschool education services for students 4 years of age.  

Like various civil society groups, both union organizations are firmly opposed to implementing preschool education services for all 4-year-olds. They maintain that the CPE (early childhood centres) network should be expanded and developed since it has already proved itself.

“The haste with which the government wants to make preschool education services mandatory for 4-year-olds cannot be justified. More extensive study and broader-based consultations should be conducted before forging ahead with such an ambitious project,” said Denis Bolduc, the President of CUPE-Quebec.

The brief also touched on the astronomical costs of implementing this project. The per-class cost was set at $122,400 during the election campaign, a figure that has now ballooned to $800,000 today.

The unions also point out that the lack of teaching personnel, the relative inability of the Quebec Government to attract new employees and the anticipated construction delays that would affect new kindergarten classes represent substantial obstacles.

“The investment in our children should not involve bricks and mortar but should instead focus on the current CPE network, which, in our view, is superior in every aspect,” declared Sylvie Nelson, the President of SQEESFTQ.

“In our opinion, better use should be made of the premises and infrastructures of the daycare services network before any consideration is given to new construction. Investing in new services would be more cost-effective from a socio-economic standpoint, and children under the age of 5 would gain more if that approach were taken,” added Ms. Nelson.

The SQEES and CUPE have asked the minister to put the bill on the backburner and undertake extensive consultation with the groups and organizations concerned and with subject-matter specialists to generate a consensus as to how investments should be made in the right model. Both unions are also hoping that the Minister of Families will spearhead this consultation.

Click on to read the brief. 

Source: CUPE National