On Point | Kindergarten debate and budget cuts
Prominent St. John's business owner Cathy Bennett used a speech last week to the St. John's Board of Trade to put pressure on the provincial government to take a closer look at full-day kindergarten.
She said that research findings favour full-day kindergarten over the half-day program that the province currently has.
On this week's episode of On Point with David Cochrane, Bennett said it was unfortunate that children in Newfoundland and Labrador are not getting the opportunity for full-day programs.
"What a missed opportunity for us not to take our youngest, most precious asset and try to figure out how to make them even more effective and better than we are," she said.
According to Bennett, this is a critical time in the province's economy and the government needs to ensure it is investing properly to ensure it is competitive for family recruitment.
"Fundamentally, this is fabulous for kids and families, but more practically, it's also putting Newfoundland and Labrador in a competitive playing field with other provinces that already have full-day kindergarten."
She said families who may want to move here will compare the educational opportunities here compared to other province's, where full-day kindergarten is already implemented.
Cuts to spending
The debate around full-day kindergarten comes at a time when the provincial government is projecting the highest deficit in the province's history.
Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy announced last week that the estimated deficit may hit a record $1.6 billion for the end of the upcoming year.
Kennedy said the projection is a worst-case scenario if the province did not take any austerity measures.
"We have to project the deficit on the worst-case scenario, then to get rid of the deficit, we either have to raise revenues, i.e. taxes, or decrease spending," he said.
Kennedy said that they have yet to determine where the cuts will be.
"Everyone is looking at how they can decrease spending, some of it could be in the form of reduction of jobs, others in decreased spending," he said.
"There's different ways we're looking at - we haven't come up with any firm plans as to how we're going to do it yet."