Question Period (04.26.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Families in Newfoundland and Labrador are facing a crisis in child care. Parents in this Province right now are paying upwards of $1,500 per month for spaces in regulated child care. Now, the Budget says this government is going to have some sort of plan for child care eventually, but at this rate, Mr. Speaker, that is going to be a grandchild care plan, not a child care plan.

So I ask the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KIRBY:when is this government finally going to act on the concerns of working parents and provide early learning and care programs that families can actually afford?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

After six weeks, I finally get a question, so thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you what kind of child care plan we are going to have. We are going to have a premature child care plan, because you are certainly not going to have to wait to be a granddad to see this action take place, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, we have announced in the Budget that we will spend $457 million over the next ten years. Already we have increased spaces since coming into power by 50 per cent, but we are not going to stop there. We are going to increase spaces by 70 per cent more, an addition of 4,800 spaces.

When it comes to quality, Mr. Speaker, we are completely revamping the quality standards, providing opportunities for ECEs to get their Level 1 training. When it comes to affordability, we will be capping fees for child care centres that come in (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Provinces that invest in all-day kindergarten are seeing a return on investment in terms of higher school achievement and fewer students at risk of falling through the cracks. Yet there is no mention of all-day kindergarten at all in this government’s Budget.

I ask the Minister of Education: Will he take this evidence seriously now and see that all-day kindergarten is introduced in this Province as soon as possible?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, we had a three-hour love-in here this morning in Estimates – that is the only way I can put it, Mr. Speaker – trying to educate the members opposite on where we are going with positive initiatives in education. I have said it time and time again in this House and in Question Period, one of the best areas that we can invest, and research shows it, is in those early years from zero to three. That is where we have started.

Kindergarten – we are looking at it, Mr. Speaker, but we are not there to announce it yet. We are investing in the most critical area, the area from zero to three, for parents and students, Mr. Speaker.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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