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Child care scramble for a week highlights inequities

Longer-term: BC trying to tip the scales in favour of families.

Thursday December 30, 2021 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC

Socioeconomic Perspectives | by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Children of essential workers (including health-care workers, teachers) will be back in school January 3, ahead of the pack. Other families with children must fend for child care options for another week, as their children will be welcomed back to school the following week, on Monday January 10.

There will, for some families, be a ‘mad scramble’ to find safe and suitable child care if the adults in the household must be out-of-home for work. If not already registered with a licenced or available child care centre, families will rely on other family members, neighbours and friends. Perhaps it will feel like an extended week of vacation, but it’s also a lost week of education.

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Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside announced phased-in return to classes after winter break. [Dec 29, 2021]

This is of course due to the challenges that public health has on its hands to manage the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant during the ongoing COVID pandemic.

The announcement to phase-in the return to K-12 classes after winter break was delivered yesterday by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside.

Inequities in society:

Given the burdens on the essential workers and the class-system that this pandemic has made evident but in turn solidified (stay-at-home vs work on the front lines) it could be observed that schisms in the sought-for societal equities are highly challenged at this time.

This is despite the counterbalancing efforts highlighted during this pandemic to address inequities in society, including attention given to addressing gender-based violence and making efforts to deal with systemic racism.

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Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) announced the opening of a new child care facility at the West Shore Parks & Recreation building in Colwood, Dec 6, 2021. [Island Social Trends]

What happens ‘at this time’ (this tumultuous phase of change driven by a microscopic virus) is enabling deeper socioeconomic trenches to be forged.

As life carries on, people are either becoming advantaged or increasingly disadvantaged by the health and economic inequities that have scourged people’s lives for almost two years now.

Socioeconomic recovery:

Economic recovery efforts by governments (especially federal and provincial) will set in motion big changes for years if not generations to come. A small business that is held afloat now may prosper to grow larger. A family that receives support to keep a roof over their head may avoid a future of spiraling poverty.

It is all in this moment that we create our futures. The time is now, to make choices that set things on the right course.

Role of government:

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Minister of State for Child Care, Katrina Chen, at the opening of the new child care center in Colwood, Dec 6, 2021. [Island Social Trends]

BC has taken leadership with creating child care spaces (including the necessary steps like training for early childhood educators), and is the first province in Canada to have signed a deal with the federal government for helping to fund the goal of $10-a-day child care.

Much of the BC leadership of course comes from the penchant of Premier John Horgan to ‘set things right’ as to the equities of socioeconomics in this province.

Horgan’s government has also succeeded in demonstrating that child care is not ‘just’ social policy, but good economic policy; child care supports workers, and workers are needed in businesses. In the last couple of years the business community has slowly warmed to accepting this premise.

A balancing act:

The opening of school to children of essential workers next week at least does recognize the child care challenge for those families. But at the same time, all other families are taking a hit against the momentum of their children’s education.

Generating more child care spaces:

In Colwood earlier this month, Mayor Rob Martin — himself with a strong business career background — was excited about the opening of the new child care centre within the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre facility (owned and operated by five municipalities, including Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands through their consortium-style West Shore Parks and Recreation). The social support service provided by a child care centre replaced a former curling rink lounge which had sat largely underused. A provincial grant was the primary source of revenue to enable the building renovation to create the child care centre.

rob martin, colwood, mayor
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin helped open the new child care centre within the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre, Dec 6 2021. [Island Social Trends]

The pieces are being put into place, one by one, by Minister of Child and Family Development Mitzi Dean (MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, which includes Colwood where another child care center was recently opened) and Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care (MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed).

A steadfast belief in the importance of child care — held by these women in leadership, supported by their peers in government — runs deep in them, beyond politics. But it’s the politics, through government, that enables change to happen.

children, child care
Child care centre within the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre opened earlier this year, announced Dec 6, 2021. [Island Social Trends]


The gift of health this Omicron Christmas (December 23, 2021)

Huge letdown for low-income seniors as GIS clawback repayment promise drags on (December 16, 2021)

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women: 2021 (December 6, 2021)

===== ABOUT the WRITER:

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Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends.

Mary P Brooke is the editor of Island Social Trends (formerly MapleLine Magazine, Sooke Voice News, and West Shore Voice News). She has covered news of the west shore, Vancouver Island, BC and national issues with island impact since 2008.

While the past few years have been busy tending to the business management side of the growing publication enterprise, it’s Mary Brooke’s editorials that are the bedrock and distinction of her journalism. She writes for the reader, and to support a knowledge-based society.

Ms Brooke has been self-employed for pretty much her entire career. Mary raised her four now-grown children while building her publishing business.

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