A new Ontario program will provide full-day kindergarten to more than 35,000 four- and five-year-olds beginning in September, the provincial government announced Tuesday.

More than 600 schools throughout the province will offer the program, including at least one school from each board. The Ministry of Education posted a list of the schools on its website, at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/earlylearning/.

Schools will be added annually until the 2015-2016 school year, when the program is expected to be fully implemented. The $1.5-billion program aims to prepare Ontario children better for Grade 1, a goal that Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty believes is "in everyone's interest."

"That gives them a better chance of finishing high school, going on to postsecondary education and getting a good job," McGuinty said before announcing the list of participating schools at a press event in Chatham, Ont.

Each class will include an early-childhood educator, as well as a teacher and about 26 children.

Parents will pay extra if they want to enrol their child in an extended-day plan that provides before- and after-school programming for what the government says will be a "reasonable" fee.

Boards submitted lists of eligible schools to the ministry last month and the government said priority would be given to low-income neighbourhoods, as well as those that have available space.

The opposition Progressive Conservatives say the program should be put off until the province, which faces a $25-billion deficit, is in better financial shape.

The New Democrats say some kids won't be getting equal access to the program this fall because their schools don't have extra space or adequate facilities.

With files from The Canadian Press