Nova Scotia parents should know next week whether new pre-primary programs planned in their respective areas will go ahead.
Education Minister Zach Churchill told reporters Tuesday that job competitions across the province's school boards have closed for the early childhood educator positions to staff the 50 classes. Pre-primary, which will provide free daycare-style programming for four year olds, was a central part of the Liberals' re-election effort.
"We should have a better understanding next week if we'll be able to have a full staffing complement for the fall," said Churchill.
The programs are scheduled to begin in mid-September, pending enough staff being in place to meet demand. Churchill has previously said the province would look to partner with private operators in any areas were they are unable to accommodate everyone.
"We will need to have a full complement of [early childhood educators] in order to open up these classrooms," he said Tuesday.
The pre-primary classes will be offered during regular school hours. Parents will be responsible to get their children to and from class, even if that child has an older sibling at the school who takes the bus.
Grits reject calls to hit pause
Since the plans for the program were first announced in July, private daycare operators have complained about a lack of consultation and expressed fears the new program could jeopardize their business model.
Opposition parties, meanwhile, have called on the government to delay the start of the program until September 2018 to allow for thorough consultation.
Churchill said he believes the government will be able to meet its targets for this year as it works toward making the program fully available across the province to anyone who wants it within four years. The Liberals have pegged the cost of the program at about $50 million when it is fully available.
As of Thursday, 857 kids are pre-registered.