With kids in B.C. not returning to school after spring break, many parents may be left having to find daycare for their children – and it isn’t yet clear if those costs will be reimbursed.
On Tuesday, the province announced that schools will be suspended until further notice for all students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The move follows a ban on gatherings larger than 50 announced by B.C.’s provincial health officer on Monday.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said that some schools will act as emergency child care spaces for kids of essential workers so health care and frontline workers are not pulled away from responding to the novel coronavirus. However, Fleming was unable to speak to any details surrounding how the rest of B.C.’s workforce will be able to access similar child care if needed.
He said the number of essential workers with children is small, but that information is still being gathered.
Premier John Horgan said that daycares will not be closed like schools – but that could change quickly and parents should be ready.
“At this time, childcare will remain available,” he said. “A parent should take comfort in that, but it is an evolving situation and should the public health officials give us different directions, we’ll be taking different actions.”
Alberta and Saskatchewan have closed daycares until further notice.
He added that the province hopes to unveil a pandemic economic plan to help people and businesses being impacted financially by the novel coronavirus, but will be looking to an expected announcement by the federal government about financial support on Wednesday.
“If we are looking at the changes we would like to see… that will allow families to care for their children, self-isolate as required and not lose revenues for their home budgets,” he said.
Black Press Media has reached out to the Ministry of Children and Family Services, which oversees daycare operations in the province, for comment.