B.C. teachers' strike: Parents scramble for daycare
Grandparents, community centres and Playland help out parents hit by teachers' strikes
B.C. parents were left jostling for daycare Monday, as teachers began four days of rotating strikes, affecting more than half a million children across the province.
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In communities where class was out, there were options available, but some were much busier than expected. In many cases, it was grandparents to the rescue.
Grandmother Nina Popovska said she was enjoying the opportunity to spend time with her grandsons, although days like this can be very difficult for parents.
"The dad leaves early in the morning, and mom takes care of them in the morning and sends them off to school then goes to work.
"Dad comes home and picks them up from school in the afternoon, but today there's no school so they're stuck."
Popovska says she supports the teachers and even took the boys to school to greet those who were picketing — before treating them to macaroni and cheese and heading off to the jungle gym.
Meanwhile, drop-in at Vancouver's West-End Community Centre was busier than on a Saturday morning, with more than 150 youngsters registered by noon.
Day camps at 13 community centres were also full. The YMCA was able to help families at only one of its facilities, where 73 children showed up for just 40 spots.
Langara YMCA director Jamie Waterlow says eight staff were called in to make sure no one was turned away.
"They were just happy to have something available for them," said Waterlow.
"A lot of them just sort of said, 'I looked everywhere. You know, I called family, friends,' or you know, 'We were just scrambling'."
Playland is also open on days that schools are closed. Organizer Laura Ballance said a special opening and discount prices attracted about 500 visitors.
"We started having parents calling us to ask if we were going to be open," said Ballance.
"And, so we made the decision to open and I think it's been a fantastic option for some parents and we'll see throughout the week how it goes."
Community groups, neighbourhood centres and various attractions have also come together to give parents some solutions for their childcare problems during the teachers' strike.
But for many parents, last minute plans were the best option, with some caring for their children while working from home — although they would much prefer them to be in school.