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Premier Doug Ford promises all-day kindergarten next fall, but says have to wait before decisions are made on its future

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Premier Doug Ford promises full-day kindergarten will be offered for the next school year, but parents will have to wait to find out what changes are in store.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning at an mental-health funding announcement at CAMH in Toronto, Ford was asked several times about the program for Ontario’s youngest learners.

“We’re consulting with our education partners,” he said. “…But I can tell you that there’s going to be all-day kindergarten next year, and we’ll sit down and you’ll hear from us in the future.”

The premier also said “we look forward to coming up with a solution that’s better than the system that we have right now.”

On Tuesday, Education Minister Lisa Thompson also did not commit long-term to the program, which began almost a decade ago at a cost of $1.5 billion a year.

She said it was “premature” to comment on the program given the consultations with teacher and support staff unions, and trustee associations.

“What I’m saying is this: we’re consulting with our education partners and stay tuned,” Thompson told reporters Tuesday in Scarborough.

“What I’m saying is I’m absolutely respecting the process of consultation. We are listening. We’re asking first, we’re listening and then we’re going to analyze the information that has come back to us.”

Read more:

Education minister says ‘nothing decided’ on class sizes or kindergarten

The government has asked unions and trustee groups to comment on the full-day program, class-size caps in the primary years, as well as a controversial hiring rule known as Regulation 274 that compels principals to choose from among those supply teachers with the most seniority for long-term and permanent positions.

A ministry consultation document asks about full-day kindergarten and it’s staffing model, which is a full-time teacher and full-time early childhood educator with an average class size of 26, with a few exceptions.

The document asks if there are “other models the ministry should consider.”

Before full-day kindergarten was introduced, it was proposed that students continue to be taught by a teacher for a half day, with early childhood educators covering the rest, for an annual cost of $1 billion.

But then-Premier Dalton McGuinty chose the all-day teacher and early childhood education model, adding half a billion dollars to the yearly price tag.

In 2012, in his report to the Liberal government, economist Don Drummond said the $1.5 billion full-day kindergarten program should be scrapped or revamped.

During the 2014 election, former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak proposed a teacher-only model with a smaller class of 20 kids, saving $200 million.

On Wednesday, Ford said “there’s lots of areas of education that need to be fixed,” and said “I can assure you one thing — it’s very important. Any decision that’s made, it’s going to be better, it’s not going to be worse.”

Ford also said he’s concerned that “half our Grade 6 students have failed math. That’s staggering” and said while teachers “do a great job with our students” they can finish post-secondary studies without any math and then go in and teach our kids about math.”

He was referring to the most provincial standardized testing results that shows 49 per cent of Grade 6 students met the standard in numeracy. The standard is a level 3 or 4, which roughly translates to a B or better.

Ford also said he’d be “more than happy to go in any of the classrooms” to see first-hand what class sizes are like.

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy



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Anglais

A stunning Water Lantern Festival is coming to Montreal

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What might just be the most magical night ever is coming up for Montreal this year.

The Water Lantern Festival has announced that it will be gracing Mississauga with thousands of floating lanterns later this year, as part of a celebration that spans the entire world.

According to the festival’s official website, the event is a celebration of life with proceeds going towards charities and non-profit organizations within the area.

“Water Lantern Festival brings together individuals from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life to join in one emotional and memorable night. At the Water Lantern Festival, we cherish these moments and will do our best to help you have a memorable experience that you’ll never forget as you witness the beauty of thousands of lanterns reflecting upon the water,” the website states.

The festival takes place throughout multiple cities around the world, with the Canadian cities of Quebec, Regina, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Ottawa, Mississauga, and, of course, Montreal taking part.

For the Calgary event, a date has been confirmed and tickets are already rolling out. Montreal shan’t be far behind, and you can click the Notify Me tab on the event’s site to be kept in the loop.

Expect an evening filled with food trucks, music, lantern designing and finally, a magical launch of the lanterns into the water as the sun goes down.

For our pals over in Calgary, their event includes a floating lantern, a commemorative drawstring bag, a marker, and a wristband. Expect something similar, if not the same, when more details float through about Montreal’s event.

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Euthanasia order on hold for Montreal dog that attacked children

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A pit bull dog that attacked four children and two adults in August 2018 in Montreal North will not be euthanized in the immediate future.

The euthanasia order has been temporarily suspended pending the appeal of a Quebec Superior Court decision.

On Tuesday, Judge Lukasz Granosik rejected a request to halt the euthanasia order issued by the Montreal North borough, which declared the animal a “dangerous dog.”

The City of Montreal has not changed its mind. This is only a delay before it proceeds with euthanizing the dog, a source told the Canadian Press.

Shotta, the one-year-old dog, was in the care of its owner’s acquaintance in August 2018. The dog attacked four children and two adults, causing serious injuries in separate incidents on the same day.

After the attacks, the dog was taken from the home and entrusted to the SPCA.

WATCH: Dog found dead in Angrignon Park

The Road to Home Rescue Support, an American shelter, asked the court if it could take in the dog. Christa Frineau, the dog’s owner, had also asked that Shotta not be euthanized.

Granosik refused to grant the request.

—With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise

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Anglais

9 Things To Do In Montreal This Friday, Saturday & Sunday

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Today’s sunny skies have me itching to make weekend plans. I absolutely cannot wait to make the most of this warmer weather. This might be the time to inflate my bike tires and dust off my running shoes…

Whether you want to brush up on your cooking skills, let loose, or fill your stomach with amazing food, there’s an event out there for you. Read on for 9 fun things you can do with friends or a fling this weekend.

TL;DR Read on for 9 fun things you can do in Montreal this weekend.

Let Yourself Go At Dress Up

Where: 185 Avenue Van Horne, Montréal.

When: Friday, March 29, 9:00 p.m.

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