Legislation to begin all-day learning for four- and five-year-olds in Ontario has been given final approval by the legislature.

The program, which will see teachers sharing the classroom with early childhood educators, will start this fall and expand across Ontario by 2015 at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion a year.

The bill calls on school boards to offer full-day junior and senior kindergarten, in addition to extended-day programs before and after class and even on days when schools are closed.

Parents can pay extra for child care before 9 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m., and there will be subsidies available for low-income families.

Boards will be allowed to use outside providers to help with the day-care programs, but only until current contracts expire.

The government says school boards must provide the all-day learning programs with their own staff within two years.

The government expects to hire 3,800 new teachers and more than 20,000 new early childhood educators over the next five years for the expanded programs for young children.

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