A shot of a picket line


I 100% Support Our Teachers, But This Strike Is Damn Hard

Feb 5, 2020

This week is the first week that my kids are missing two days of school due to the Ontario teachers’ strike — and with the government unwilling to meet the teachers’ requests, it looks like it won’t be the only week. The Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation (OSSTF) and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) are all participating in province-wide strikes every week, in addition to weekly rotating strikes across school boards.

"At the end of the day, it’s not the teachers I blame for the financial burden and emotional stress we’re dealing with — it’s the Ontario government[...]"

As a mother to three young children I understand everything our teachers are fighting for. Full-day kindergarten, appropriate and effective support for children with special needs, fair hiring practices and wage increases at the rate of inflation (around 2 per cent) are just a few of the hot button topics at the bargaining table. My family has been vocal in our support for teachers locally and throughout Ontario. We’ve tried to show our support tangibly too, by dropping off Timbits for teachers at the picket line and honking and waving when we drive by. I also plan to bring my children to the picket line to show our support and walk with our educators in an act of solidarity.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the strike hasn't had a profound impact on our family, and on many other families I know. Last week I scrambled to get deadlines done. As a self-employed writer that works from home, it’s virtually impossible to do my work while also taking care of three kids. My business has suffered, and this week the only alternative was to register my school-aged kids for emergency strike camp.

In the City of Guelph, where I live, there are quite a few camps, but none of them are well-promoted. It took me hours of searching and calling to find a location with spots available, and most of the reasonably priced camps said they filled fast. The only space available was at a camp that charges $60 per child, plus HST. That’s around $135 for one day of childcare, $70 more than the government rebate of $65 per strike day that I’ll be receiving.

This mom writes about how her young family struggled with food insecurity on $20,000 a year income. Read her story here.

The longer this strike goes on, the harder it will be to justify the additional $140 weekly for childcare. Then I consider my child who is currently enrolled in full-day kindergarten, and my youngest who will be starting in 2021. How much would I be paying for daycare if my child wasn’t enrolled in kindergarten right now? Certainly more than $140 weekly.

I understand what our teachers are fighting for, and I fight with them. But I also see how challenging this strike has been on families and students. My own children have a hard time understanding the nuances of the strike. They’ve cried over cancelled class field trips, and I know other students who have been disappointed with cancelled school plays and many other abandoned extracurriculars. It’s hard to see our kids suffer, and it's even harder to explain to them why the government is refusing to support them.

At the end of the day, it’s not the teachers I blame for the financial burden and emotional stress we’re dealing with — it’s the Ontario government, who once again isn’t prioritizing the well-being of our children.

Are you a parent? Are you a writer? Do you have a different opinion on this subject? Please reach out to us with a pitch here.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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