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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School can wait: What happened when Seattle let its high schoolers sleep in – National

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The evidence continues to pile up: if you don’t hustle your teen out of bed and into the classroom early, they’ll get more sleep and do better academically.

The “Sleepmore in Seattle” study published this week in the Science Advances journal joins a pile of similar research in Canada and the United States in support of later school start times.

The crux of the issue? Most teenagers like to stay up late and sleep in late, a habit that tends to leave them chronically underslept and their brains less than fully functional when the school bell rings every morning.


READ MORE:
Quality sleep feels like winning the lottery jackpot, study says

So when the Seattle School District made plans to bump back its start time by an hour, researchers studied how high schoolers fared before and after. The result was more sleep, better attendance, and a 4.5 per cent increase in the students’ median grades.

But don’t expect your local high school to jump on board.

As Mary Carskadon of the Sleep for Science Research Lab at Brown University told Reuters more than a year ago when another study recommended high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later, “Efforts to delay the school bell are more likely to succeed best when parents and the teens themselves use better choices.”

In other words, set and stick to your bedtime and limit all the pre-bedtime activities that might inadvertently make it harder for you to fall asleep. Then, maybe, the focus could shift to start times.

In Canada, at least, there doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite for a later bell.

WATCH: Concerns raised about changing start times for Durham schools







Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute in Toronto used to boast one of the city’s latest high school start times at 10 a.m. The chance was made permanent after a pilot project found a delayed start yielded promising results.

“Students showed a four to nine per cent improvement in academic credit accumulation for Grades 9 and 10 following the later start to the school day,” said a 2011 report on the project released by the Toronto District School Board.

The report also showed improvements in performance in English and science among Grade 9 and 10 students, as well as better marks in English and math for Grade 11 and 12 students.

Eastern Collegiate was closed permanently two years ago, but those improvements were found to be greater than at any other school within the Toronto board.

Asked in 2014 why the success wasn’t prompting other school boards to follow suit, Brian Woodland of the Peel Region School Board said “it’s really about the economics of bussing.”

Last year, there was talk of another pilot in the Thames Valley District School Board, where high schools start around 8 a.m. Trustee Graham Hart spoke in favour of the initiative, specifically noting that one of the themes to emerge from a rash of suicides in the Woodstock area was a lack of sleep.


READ MORE:
London’s public school board approves pilot project giving students extra hour of sleep

Although the school board allocated $25,000 for the pilot project which was to last until now, an official with the board told Global News this week it was ultimately cancelled before going ahead and she couldn’t remember why.

Still, at least one Canadian school board has jumped on board.

In northwestern Ontario, the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board has had what it calls “harmonized” start times since 2014. The board, which includes many students travelling great distances from Indigenous communities to learn, felt the change was necessary.

WATCH: Life hacks to sleep better







Students at six of the board’s high schools start at 9 a.m., around 50 minutes later than they used to.

Before, the board’s director of education Sean Monteith told The Canadian Press students were dropping out and failing.

“To continue to allow the same historical practice to go on at the expense of kids dropping out was just simply unacceptable.”

The evidence is certainly in favour of the swap.

While this week’s study out of Seattle was cautious about directly attributing more sleep from later start times with better grades, researchers wrote that “it is certainly reasonable that students who are better rested and more alert should display better academic performance.”


READ MORE:
Let the teens sleep: Later high school start times boost attendance, graduation rates

The study comes four years after U.S. pediatricians asked high schools to let kids sleep in.

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common — and easily fixable — public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, lead author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement. The Canadian Paediatric Society said it agrees with the research.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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New vehicles coming to Ambulance NB fleet in attempt to cut rural wait times – New Brunswick

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Ambulance New Brunswick is launching a pilot project and adding more a handful of vehicles to its fleet, in an effort to reduce response times in rural communities.

Five rural communities — Minto/Chipman; Grand Bay-Westfield; Saint-Quentin/Kedgwick; the Acadian Peninsula and Blackville — will each have a new Rapid Response Unit (RRU).


READ MORE:
Rapid response, bilingual requirement to come to Ambulance New Brunswick fleet

“We’ll have two or three, multiple calls back-to-back in the areas,” says Crossman.

“Sometimes, the neighbouring ambulance is responding 40 or 50 minutes away.”

Though the pilot project was announced by government in July, the launch comes days after a 13-year-old died as the result of an ATV collision in Haut-Lamèque, which took an ambulance a reported 40 minutes to respond.

READ MORE: N.B. Acadian Society launches petition to cancel ambulance management contract

When the fleet is officially launched in November, the vehicles will look similar to this one

Callum Smith/Global News

The New Brunswick Acadian Society (SANB) launched a petition Tuesday, calling on the province to cancel Medavie’s contract with Ambulance New Brunswick.

“It’s a problem when people kind of ask themselves, in an emergency situation, ‘well, should I call an ambulance or should I drive myself to the hospital,’” asks Eric Dow of SANB.

Eric Dow of the New Brunswick Acadian Society (SANB) says the petition was launched as a result of overall performance over the years

Callum Smith/Global News

Ambulance New Brunswick says based on results in other jurisdictions, the RRUs have proven their success.

“They really have been able to demonstrate the benefit,” says Ambulance New Brunswick vice-president Matthew Crossman. “Specifically in rural communities, where there are long transport times and multiple calls.”


The RRUs differ from ambulances because they will have only one paramedic, rather than two. They also don’t have the ability to transport patients.

The new vehicles will respond, treat patients as needed until an ambulance arrives, and then be free to respond to another call as needed.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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