With school slated to begin last week, parents are still scrambling to find places for their children if classes do not start as scheduled. The B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the Government of British Columbia have endured a contract dispute and teachers have been on a full-scale strike since the summer. With negotiations at a standstill and no conclusion of the dispute in sight, parents are left wondering where the 300,000 schoolchildren under the age of 12 will be headed come Tuesday morning.
Families are often stretched thin during the summer months, trying to balance work hours and camp hours with vacation days. While summer schedules are often planned months in advance, arranging for childcare on the fly is much riskier and the costs can be exponential. The impact at work will be obvious, with many parents having to take time off to watch over their children if the school doors do not open. Moreover, co-workers without kids will also continue to feel the impact, as they take on extra work to cover for fellow employees arriving late, leaving early, or not coming to work at all.
A recent survey by Insights West (link: http://www.insightswest.com/news/british-columbians-not-swayed-by-40-a-day-offer-for-parents/) shows that more than half of working parents are stressed at work as a result of the contract dispute. Furthermore, two of every five residents without children in the public school system admit that the contract dispute has affected them directly – most often due to their co-workers absence at work due to the strike. The bottom line is the dispute is causing stress among parents and non-parents alike and putting a strain on local families and local businesses.
With a $40 a day reimbursement for children under 13 from the Government of British Columbia, some day care options are still within financial reach for families. With long wait lists, some courses have been full since the minute they were announced. However, some programs are continuing to be added to the ever-growing list. For a continually updated roster of Day Camps and Kids’ Programs in Metro Vancouver visit (http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/08/26/day-camps-and-programs-offered-during-b-c-teachers-strike/). Some teachers are even offering to take in children for in-home childcare if the strike continues, placing ads online via Cragislist and other websites.
With each lingering day of the strike, teachers are starting to feel anxious about their financial position just as parents are feeling anxious about how much longer this dispute will go on. Parents are certainly fearful of how they will look in front of their boss or colleagues due to time lost at work if the strike continues and companies are wondering how long they can manage with absent employees or reduced employee work hours. Most importantly, students are potentially missing the basic right to attend public school. The importance of ending the dispute and finding a resolution is paramount to many people in the local communities.