The Quebec government’s promise to bring preschool for four-year-olds to elementary schools continues to create controversy.
On Sunday, government-subsidized daycare workers and all three National Assembly opposition parties came together to denounce the plan.
“When as a government you decide will invest as much as $700 million in reform, it is our responsibility to make sure this reform will really bring the results we want,” said Parti Québécois (PQ) MNA Véronique Hivon.
The PQ, Liberals and Québec Solidaire all sat with Centre de la Petite Enfance (CPE) professionals at a press conference on Sunday to speak out against one of Premier François Legault’s signature promises.
“We need to invest in what the population wants,” said Valérie Grenon, president of the CPE workers’ union.
WATCH: Preschool on the way for Quebec schools
She pointed to a recent Leger Poll that found less than one-in-four Quebecers are interested in preschool for four-years-olds instead of government-subsidized daycare.
“Early intervention does not have to happen in the school at four-years-old,” said Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone, the former head of the Quebec English School Boards Association.
More than 400 of the preschool classes already exist across the province, implemented by the Liberals.
Members of the opposition argued against an expansion of the program, saying that the money would be better spent elsewhere.
“Is this where you want your money invested? Or would you rather see improvements in education? Would you rather see more health care professionals assisting our children?” asked Maccarone.
WATCH BELOW: Quebec subsidized daycares, a model to emulate?
Meanwhile, Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge unveiled where the first of the classes will be rolled out this fall and under-crowded English schools will be getting a good amount.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board will be getting 19 new preschool classes, bringing their total to 23.
The English Montreal School Board will be getting 13 of the classes to bring their total to 25.
The Wilfrid Laurier School Board will get 10 of the classes, bringing the total there to 15.
WATCH BELOW: What are the advantages of starting kindergarten at the age of four?
Though vehemently opposing the Coalition Avenir Québec plan for the overcrowded French system, Maccarone said it will be good for the English system.
“I think it potentially has a benefit because it gets the population into our schools earlier,” she said.
“If the government wants to invest in schools that have space to accommodate, then absolutely. It’s about where there is a need. There’s a need in the English sector, so we’re not going to say we don’t want it there. Of course we want it there.”
A spokesperson for the education minister told Global News the number of classes that emerge in the coming years will depend on how they are received by parents, adding the government doesn’t understand all the opposition to giving parents more choice.
The CPE professionals planned to fan out across Montreal Monday to ask for signatures on their petition denouncing the plan.