Parents in ‘child-care bind’ with schools closing Monday in parts of Canada to honour Queen

Workers are scrambling to find last-minute childcare in many parts of Canada after governments announced the sudden closure of schools in honor of Queen Elizabeth on the day of her funeral.

The four Atlantic provinces, British Columbia and Yukon all declared Monday a holiday for provincial and territorial public sector employees, including teachers and school staff.

However, most private sector businesses will remain open, making it difficult for many workers to find childcare or in some cases take a day off without pay.

Kristine Grace, a mother of 2nd and 5th graders who lives in Dartmouth, NS, said the decision to respect the Queen’s funeral service by giving public sector workers a holiday was worth it. disappointed.

“Many workers are now in a bind with babysitting because they have closed schools but have not really declared a full statutory holiday,” she said.

After two years of school disruptions related to the pandemic, Grace said it was upsetting for families to once again be forced to grapple with sudden closures.

“I think decisions like this disproportionately affect women,” she said. “This is also a missed opportunity to discuss the monarchy in Canada and perhaps hold a meeting during the funeral or have a moment of silence.”

Jill Bruce, a mother of three also from Dartmouth, said working parents don’t have enough time to find a substitute babysitter.

“We’re scrambling to find a babysitter and some parents can’t afford to take a day off work,” she said. “This just feels unfair after two years of pandemic school closures. We’re all exhausted.”

Part of the problem, Bruce added, is the two-tiered nature of the holiday.

“Government workers get the day off and schools are closed, but for most working parents it’s like ‘You’re doing it yourself’.”

A ‘game’ to claim Monday is a holiday, says researcher

Judy Haiven, a researcher with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives and a retired professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, said it was a “charade” to assume that Monday is a day off when only civil servants are entitled to leave.

“They’re trying to override the idea that workers have more rights in this province, and that’s just not true,” she said. “Actually, the opposite is true because now some parents will lose a day’s pay because they have a responsibility to take care of their children.”

“Some parents will lose a day’s pay because they have a responsibility to look after their children,” said Judy Haiven, a researcher with the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives. (Brian MacKay / CBC)

It’s not just working parents who are affected by school closures.

Businesses are also arranging work schedules to accommodate workers who need to stay home to care for their children.

“This has left some employees scrambling to find alternative childcare options or options,” said Gary Sands, senior vice president of public policy for the Federation of Independent Grocery Stores of Canada. set a day off.

“Many businesses are dealing with labor shortages, so this is definitely a problem.”

Man in glasses smiling at the camera during a Zoom call.
Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Atlantic vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said that the federal holiday on September 19 could affect the ability of some businesses to operate. (Zoom)

Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Atlantic vice president for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said some small businesses have had to reduce hours due to staff shortages.

“This could affect the ability of some businesses to simply operate if workers are unable to come in because schools are closed,” he said. “It’s just very challenging.”

Mark von Schellwitz, Western Canada Vice President of Restaurants Canada, said the biggest challenge in the restaurant industry right now is labor shortages.

“It is very, very difficult to get employees,” he said. “Many operations are already at around 80% because they don’t have full-time staff.”

“If workers need to stay home because schools are closed, that makes it even harder for restaurants.”

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