Government Stands with Parents and Kids During Union-Led Strike Actions in SchoolsPublished on January 15, 2020
Minister of Education Offers Financial Assistance to Parents Facing Increased Costs
Today, the Honourable Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced the government's plan to offer parents up to $60 per day if strike actions close schools or school-based child care centres.
"Our aim has always been to reach a negotiated settlement that keeps kids in class, which we have done successfully with multiple labour partners to date," said Minister Lecce. "We recognize the impact of union escalation on families is real, and unions expect hard-working families to bear the costs of their cyclical labour action. While unions impose hardship on families and students, our government is taking proactive steps to ensure students remain cared for — and families supported — in the event that unions decide to further escalate job action in their fight for enhanced compensation and other demands. The contrast could not be clearer."
A full withdrawal of services could require parents to make alternative arrangements. A strike could also impact the operation of full-day child care centres located in schools — forcing them to close as a direct result of escalating union job action.
To address these potential realities, the Ministry of Education launched its Support for Parents initiative to make sure that child care and other safe spaces are as accessible as possible for any family impacted by strikes. It will also provide support to parents who are facing increased costs.
Financial support will be provided to parents for each day of school that a child misses on account of a labour disruption, or each day of child care that is not available if offered from a closed school.
Eligible parents of children up to age 12 (Grade 7), or up to age 21 for children and youth with special needs, in a publicly funded school, qualify for:
- $60 per day for children aged 0-6 who are not yet enrolled in school but attend a school-based child care centre that is required to close on account of the strike.
- $40 per day for students in Junior Kindergarten (JK) and Senior Kindergarten (SK).
- $25 per day for students in Grades 1 up to and including Grade 7.
- $40 total per day for students in JK up to and including Grade 12 with a special need(s).
Funding will also be retroactive for qualifying parents to cover costs already incurred due to labour disruptions that have occurred during the current 2019-20 labour negotiations.
More details about this financial support can be found by visiting Ontario.ca/SupportForParents or by calling the Support for Parents Helpline at 888-444-3770.
"Our government will continue to support parents and provide predictability during this period of union-caused uncertainty," said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues. "We will always put families and children first."
- During a strike, licensed child care programs, including before- and after-school programs, will be allowed to extend their hours, request temporary relocation to avoid labour disruptions and request an increase to the number of children they are licensed to support.
- The province also intends to allow day camps to open to school-aged students without it counting against their 13-week per-year operating limit.
- The ministry is also considering other ways to support students with special needs during any strike action by teacher federations and/or education worker unions.
- Parents can use the licensed child care finder to contact local operators about available licensed programs in their area.
- On November 4, 2019, a central agreement was ratified between the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Council of Trustees' Associations (CTA), with the agreement of the Government of Ontario.
- On December 10, Minister Lecce announced a tentative agreement with the Education Workers’ Alliance of Ontario.