Teachers picket outside Earl Marriott Secondary in South Surrey Wednesday.

Teachers picket outside Earl Marriott Secondary in South Surrey Wednesday.

Arrange childcare, Surrey School District tells parents

Clock ticks down as scheduled opening day draws near in the midst of a labour dispute

Surrey school officials are not optimistic parents will receive a last-minute reprieve.

In a letter to parents this week, superintendent Jordan Tinney encourages them to “begin to make alternate arrangements for the care of their children.”

“While we continue to hope for a resolution at the bargaining table, a deal does not appear to be likely this week,” Tinney writes.

He notes that if a deal is reached in the days ahead, “there is still time for schools to open on Sept. 2.”

The final week of the summer holiday opened Sunday with a demand in Kamloops from B.C. Teachers Federation president Jim Iker for an immediate start to mediation.

No formal bargaining dates are scheduled, but Iker, Education Minister Peter Fassbender and government negotiator Peter Cameron were to meet Wednesday afternoon in Victoria, raising hopes for some movement.

Teachers have also stepped up picketing as both sides prepare for the strike to stretch into September. Pickets were up outside select Surrey high schools this week.

At the same time, some are offering to fill the daycare void for parents stranded by the strike.

Elgin Park Secondary teacher Camila Muir describes the provincial government’s offer of $40 per day to help parents pay for childcare during the teacher strike as “ridiculous.”

The lump-sum payouts to parents following the end of the strike will consume all of the $12 million a day in strike savings the government would have amassed going forward.

It’s money that would be better spent helping improve the education system, Muir said.

She decided to offer daycare in South Surrey as soon as she heard of the funding plan, but decided this week to withdraw her offer following word the work could be deemed a breach of union policy.

She said her online ad gave her a good sense of the need.

“There’s lots of interest,” she said. “I just don’t want to do anything (that could jeopardize a agreement).”

Marion Goriak was among parents who had taken Muir up on the offer, after turning to Craigslist to find care for her seven-year-old daughter, Tasha, who is deaf.

For Tasha, school is “her whole life,” Goriak said. “It’s her social life, it’s her friends.”

When the strike triggered an early end to the 2013-2014 school year, Tasha – who attends the School for the Deaf in Burnaby – was “just a mess,” Goriak said.

“I’ve just been sick the whole summer, worried about what am I going to do.”

Goriak said many caregivers are nervous about taking on a deaf child –  or any child with special needs.

“I rely on the school,” she said. “All our children need school… but for my younger daughter, so much more is at stake.”

Goriak said she has enlisted family and a friend to help out, “but it’s going to be tough” if the strike continues. She knows of other parents who are in a similar position.

While both sides blame the other for the gulf between positions, Goriak said she firmly backs teachers, based on her experience in the school system.

“The teachers are just stretched so far,” she said. “I would like to see the government step up, do the right thing by parents.”

As the two sides met Wednesday, Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg told Peace Arch News his office has heard from constituents “on all sides of the issue.”

“Hopefully, something will come out of this meeting,” he said. “We all want to see the kids back in school, the teachers back in school.”

– with files from Jeff Nagel

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eternity Medical Equipment’s ECAN95 masks have received Health Canada approval and CSA certification. (Eternity Medical Equipment photo)
South Surrey N-95 equivalent manufacturer launches mask recycling program

Eternity Medical Equipment partners with Ontario-based LifeCycle Revive

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read