So my regional school districts have made their decision - they are not going to fund full day kindergarten like they have been since about 2004. I understand their decision, they just simply cannot afford it any longer. But it seems that many many people in my city do not 'get it'. They want either the City or the Province to fund it. Today I have read many comments/reactions from fellow parents that raised my eyebrows. Very few had anything to do with wanting their child to have the best start in life and enter a full day program - most were concerns about what they are going to do with their child while they are at work.
Well up until a few years ago, all the other parents had to do it that way. I have worked in daycare since 1994 and all parents had their kids in K in either the morning, afternoon, or every-other-day (MWF one week, the Tu-Th the next). We had to work around that to make sure we didnt go over our child:staff ratio and it was a bit of a nightmare, but that's what every center/dayhome had to do. For the past few years we have 'enjoyed' a more stable atmosphere of knowing exactly when each child would come, but we really missed having kindergarten-aged kids because we had none after fullday came in.
Anyway I digress,,, I've seen countless parents talk about how Sask has full day K, and how BC and Ontario will be be funding Full Day this fall. I saw parents talking about how Alberta is 'big oil' and supposed to 'have the most money' so 'why can't they fund it'. First of all, since it's tax payer dollars, they should be saying why can't WE fund it, but again, I digress.
I did not see a single mention of how Sask, Ontario, and BC have higher income tax AND sales tax - where of course Alberta has a flat rate of 10% income tax and NO sales tax. So for starters, there seems to be more avenues for tax funds to be tallied up. I seem to recall on the news a few weeks ago that Saskatchewan is raising it's liquor tax so that's some more revenue as well. But hey, who cares right? We should be able to fund it! That's what everyone says. I also did not see any mention of how much money Alberta has to hand out in 'equalization payments' compared to how much it gets back. In other words, Albertans are also helping to fund social programs in OTHER provinces while also trying to fund our own. But hey, who cares about that, we should get everything and not question where the money comes from or how much.
For comparison sake, here are some numbers:
Alberta income tax: 10% across the board
Alberta sales tax: 0%
BC income tax: ranges from 5.06% to 14.70%
BC sales tax: 7%
Ontario income tax: ranges from 5.05% to 11.16%
Ontario sales tax: 8%
Saskatchewan income tax: ranges from 11% to 15%
Sask sales tax: 5%
There are also other things to consider like the amount of tax added to fuel per province like at this LINK which shows Alberta to be second-lowest in the country for cents/liter fuel tax (although GST and HST/PST are included).
Alberta also seems to have the lowest Corporate Tax Rate which can attract more business to our province, and therefore helping us have more job opportunities. Do you think all those people from down east wanted to leave their families behind and go work in Fort McMurray several months or years straight? Or do you think they were so desperate for work, they ended up going to another province *ahem* Alberta to earn money to raise their families back home? Corporate tax rates in Alberta are 10%, compared to 12-16% in the Maritimes.
At any rate, there is a lot more to this issue than simply someone not thinking full day kindergarten is helpful. If the money isn't there, IT ISN'T THERE. End of story. But the majority of those same parents were not willing to directly fund it themselves by paying $300/month for the full day program. Instead, they want everyone else in the province to foot the bill. That really does not make sense to me at all.
PLUS we have to remember that BC and Ontario are only just starting this. Who knows where they will be in 5 years or if they will have to cut funding to other parts of the education sector in order to keep full day kindergarten afloat. Our rural school district stated in today's paper that they are holding off buying any new technology (ie computers they were planning to purchase) in order to run their kindergartens at 80% of last year's program. So - kids in older grades are not getting their new computers in order to keep the 5 year olds in an extra couple of days a week. Do you think some of THEIR parents might be upset about that? That some of the funding that their kids were supposed to get is now going to children who were being offered a half day program but wanted full day? I can see this getting nasty if people don't stop to think.
Personally I think education and health care should be the last things on the list to get cuts when the economy is struggling, but we're facing some tougher times and have to make some decisions. If 5 out of the last 50 years have been full day but the rest were half day, and that worked previously but full day is not working now, GEE what should we do??
With the equalization payments, Alberta did not used to even get a payment. I was trying to find some charts and found Alberta left off the list as receiving a payment for more years than I could count. If you google 'Alberta Equalization Payments' you get a giant list of articles to wade through but HERE is one example from a 2008 cbc article.One excerpt explaining the program: ""The federal equalization program is designed to compensate "have-not" provinces so that their residents can have the same level of services as richer provinces. In the 2008-09 fiscal year, six provinces — the four in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Manitoba — will receive more than $13.6 billion in equalization payments."" And then this one: ""The report notes that last year's change to the equalization formula from a five-province to a 10-province standard "brought Alberta into the picture and their soaring resource revenues" have driven up the base upon which equalization payments are based."" I have seen a few articles stating that Ontario received more money back than they put in, but several stating Alberta only gets back about 16% of what it has to put in... if that is true, we are giving out 80% of that money to other provinces to run THEIR programs, while our govt gets flack for not putting more money into our own. How can we when we have to send millions or billions of dollars to the 'have not' provinces each year?
Anyway it's just some food for thought. The same could be said for any social program that is going through funding problems right now - but what are you willing to sacrifice to keep them going? And does that include forcing everyone else in the province to sacrifice for your wishes as well? Maybe we should just go ahead and add sales tax, raise income tax or make it a sliding scale so those darn rich people can pay more, and raise corporate taxes, fuel and smokes and booze taxes more while we are at it - and then everyone will be happy and no one will complain :)