Opposition says Quebec family minister doesn’t have plan for 4-year-old preschool

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WATCH: Opposition parties and public daycare operators continue to speak out against the government's preschool plan for four-year-olds. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, the family minister is still struggling to clarify how this will work, sparking even more debate at the National Assembly – Feb 22, 2019

Opposition parties and public daycares continue to speak out against the government’s four-year-old preschool plan, while the family minister still struggles to explain how it will all work. A debate at the National Assembly Friday raised even more questions.

READ MORE: Quebec government pushes on with plan to enroll 4-year-olds in preschool

“We don’t know where, we don’t know how, we don’t know how much,” said the Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone during a two-hour debate at the National Assembly.

She was referring to a press conference Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe held earlier this week where he announced the creation of 2,500 new daycare spaces without providing many details. Maccarone said it’s unclear how the government’s plan to implement four-year-old preschool will affect the daycare system.

Parti Quebecois (PQ) MNA, Méganne Perry Mélançon said she wants to know how the government will create 5,000 preschool classes in the next five years.

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“We are missing teachers right now in our schools and we’re missing classes as well,” Perry Mélançon said.

She added, “We never saw any plan.”

READ MORE: Quebec daycare workers, opposition parties denounce CAQ plans for preschool classes

The government insists it is possible. The CAQ says it will create enough preschool and daycare spaces for all Quebec children no matter the cost. The problem, say opposition parties, is that the government doesn’t know how many spaces are actually needed, something the minister also admits.

“It’s very hard to predict the choice of the parents,” said Lacombe.

Lacombe said the important thing is they have the choice: “I’m a father, I think I’m great for making the best choice for my kids, so I’m confident that all the parents in Quebec will [make a] good choice for their kids.”

READ MORE: Do children need preschool?

CPEs want to know if parents actually want the choice.

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“We are lucky in Quebec, we have an extraordinary system that is envied by other provinces, that is envied by other countries,” said Francine Lessard, the director general of the Conseil québecois des services éducatifs à la petite enfance du Québec (CQSEPE). 

The PQ said, if preschool is really the best option for four-year-olds, why not make it available to two and three-year-olds as well?

“France as a country is trying to see if it would be beneficial,” Perry Mélançon said.

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