Holiday for Queen’s funeral: B.C. school closures challenge parents

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B.C.’s grade school students may be excited to have Monday off to mark the Queen’s funeral but many of their parents, who still have to work, are struggling to find last-minute child care.


“We don’t like surprises when we are trying to orchestrate all of the moving parts of kids’ schedules. It seems a bit insane,” said North Vancouver parent Brendon James.


After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s declared the day a federal holiday Tuesday, the province announced how it would be marking the occasion – including the plan to shutter schools from kindergarten through post-secondary. While some workers in British Columbia will get the day off, many more will not.


Grandparent Tim Brooking agrees that parents and caregivers are being put in a last-minute bind.


“It’s very fortunate for my daughter because I can look after the children,” he said. “In terms of child care, this being thrown on the Canadian public at this time — it’s just crazy. There is no warning, it’s just, ‘You’re going to have a day when you have to look for child care.’ It’s madness.”


Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Childcare Advocates said the province’s decision to only make Monday a day off for students and civil servants makes life difficult for working families.


“For parents, it’s a scramble to know if their child care provider will be available. And for the operators, their question is: Are they going to have access to the schools if that’s where their program is located? Are they going to be able to have staff who can move from before and after school to being a full-day program?“ said Gregson who added many facilities have not yet decided if they will open or extend their hours on Monday.


“Just like we discovered during the pandemic, child care is the backbone of how people go to work and how the economy moves along,” she added.


Brooking, who is visiting from the U.K., says forcing schools to close for the Queen’s funeral is a step too far.


“I don’t understand it. If people want to pay respect to the Queen that’s fine by me, but for them to be made to have a day off to pay respect is ludicrous, and all the problems it creates,” he said.


James also believes the Queen deserves recognition, but doesn’t think schools need to close on the day of her funeral.


“She did a great job, awesome career, I respect that,” he said. “But I think we are so far removed. To kind of put the brakes on an entire day for our society is kind of silly.”

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