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This article was published 16/3/2016 (1438 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba Liberals would spend $50 million over the next five years to expand kindergarten to a full day in every public school in Manitoba.
Leader Rana Bokhari made the announcement early Wednesday afternoon to open a campaign in which she starts with one incumbent MLA.
Bokhari was vague about many details, but said the $50 million would cover operating costs only, and she would find the money to pay for full-day kindergarten somewhere in the province's infrastructure budget.
"The big plan will be rolled out next week," she told reporters.
Backed by nine of her fellow candidates, Bokhari said both parents and school boards have advocated for full-day kindergarten. "We have fallen behind" other provinces, she said.
Bokhari said studies have shown children benefit significantly in social and language skills from a full day of kindergarten, but did not cite any when asked: "Um, you know what, there are many," she said.
She said there are five pilot projects in Winnipeg for full-day kindergarten, and about 40 such programs elsewhere in Manitoba.
School boards in Winnipeg and Brandon have full-day kindergarten in more than 40 schools this year or starting in September, paying the additional half-day completely out of property taxes. St. James-Assiniboia has had full-day kindergarten in schools in low-income areas for a decade. The province funds only the traditional half-day.
Bokhari could not say how much it will cost, or where she will get the money, for new classrooms and capital expansion of schools if they don't have room for extra kindergarten classes.
"At the moment, no, that ($50 million) does not include capital," she said. "You know what, we'll play it as we go."
Bokhari said the implementation will start with schools in areas with the greatest socioeconomic challenges, but did not know how many schools in which the Liberals will start full-day kindergarten in September or how her government would choose them. "You know what, I don't have that; let's get elected first," Bokhari said.
Bokhari would not say what she'd do with the NDP government's ongoing project to cap class size in kindergarten to Grade 3 at 20 students by 2017, a project on which the NDP has been spending millions of dollars a year in preference to funding full-day kindergarten.
"You know, we'll look into that and get back to you. This is about full-day kindergarten," Bokhari said.
She said parents will see their daycare costs reduced if their children are in kindergarten for the entire day.