QUEBEC CITY – Thirty-five per cent of little ones in the Montreal area arrive in kindergarten with learning difficulties. Twenty-four per cent of kids in Quebec never finish high school. It’s statistics like these that have prompted the Quebec Education and Family Ministers to open up access to early kindergarten to four-year-old disadvantaged children.
“They see they cannot perform as the other children,” said Education Minister Marie Malavoy on Thursday in Quebec City.
“So in a class where they have exactly the kind of program they need, we think they will be in a better position to begin school.”
Malavoy is spending $8 million this year to create 12,000 early kindergarten spots and fulfil a Parti Quebecois election promise. Seventy English and French school boards will receive enough money to each create one classroom of 18 children. Bill 101 will apply.
But while Malavoy is busy creating a new program to help vulnerable children, her colleague, Labour Minister Agnès Maltais, is being bombarded with criticism for her decision to cut $20 million from the welfare budget.
“I think it’s double-talk,” said Françoise David, Québec Solidaire MNA for Gouin.
“On one hand you pretend to give support to vulnerable people and on the other hand, you allow cuts that affect those who are the poorest in our society.”
Maltais surreptitiously cut funds this week to welfare recipients between the ages of 55 and 58 and those living with pre-school children. She also made budget cuts to a program that helps recovering addicts. David noted the Parti Québécois did the exact same thing in the 1990s.
“Why did they make cuts in welfare? Because of the zero deficit. It’s always the same,” she said.
The opposition also accuses the Marois government of taking with one hand and giving with the other.