PEI·PEI Votes

PCs propose new $5M preschool program

The P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party promises to create a new preschool program for four-year-olds, free for parents, if they form the next government.

'This is a natural, logical step in the evolution of preparing our kids for a brighter future'

Preschool will give Island children a head start and give parents more flexibility to work, the Progressive Conservatives said Friday. (Sarah MacMIllan/CBC)

The P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party promises to create a new preschool program for four-year-olds, free for parents, if they form the next government.

The provincial election is April 23.

Leader Dennis King made the announcement at Kidz Korner Early Learning Academy in Roseneath Friday morning.

"Research shows that preschool for four year olds improves a child's language, thinking and social skills and better prepares them for kindergarten and school," King said in a news release, making reference to a McCain Foundation report released earlier this week.

The party estimates start-up costs for the program would be $5 million. King said a PC government would have it in place for September 2020. 

The program would be a half-day, and developed in collaboration with early learning centres, parents and communities.

"We believe that it's listening to parents, we believe it's listening to experts in the field of early years study. This is a natural, logical step in the evolution of preparing our kids for a brighter future," said King during the announcement Friday.

King also said he recognizes the challenge of recruiting educators, and the need for wage increases for early childhood educators — but made no specific commitments to increase wages.

"We want to make sure the wages get increased, but we don't want to unfairly burden single parents and people of low income who are struggling to pay more for their child care," he said.

"So there's a delicate balance that we have to walk here, but we're committed to working with families, working with professionals, and working with those in the industry to find some reasonable solutions."

More P.E.I. news

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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