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

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, displays a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest, first-ever in U.S.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read