School and childcare closures on Sept. 30 holiday creating issues for parents

WINNIPEG –

The closure of schools and daycares on the new September 30 holiday is leaving some Manitoba parents scrambling to find childcare options.

The Canadian government recently passed legislation making the thirtieth the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a holiday meant to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools.

As a federal statutory holiday, it is a designated paid holiday for federally regulated employees. That means people who work for the federal government or in workplaces such as banks, the post office or Via Rail are entitled to have the day off or receive holiday pay if they do work.

The Manitoba government is also formally recognizing the holiday, meaning all non-essential provincial government services and offices will also be closed for the day, including schools and daycares.

Janette Wallace Desjardins, a mother to children aged two and five, said she’d be stuck paying out of pocket for childcare come the holiday.

“This holiday is a bit of a concern to us as far trying to figure out childcare,” she said. “Neither of our workplaces are acknowledging the holiday as a stat because we are not federally regulated.

With schools and childcare centres closing for the holiday, Desjardin is left with few options.

“We are left trying to find alternate childcare while paying for the closed day; regular fees still apply. So not only are we stuck paying our regular fee, we are trying to find alternate care for our children, or we are taking an unpaid day off.”

Desjardin is in favour of the holiday but feels it needs to be recognized as a general holiday provincially.

“It’s incredibly frustrating for something like this to be created and feels like it’s only halfway,” she said.

“They’ve created this burden on parents, I know that wasn’t intentional, but it does create a burden on parents when they don’t make these things stat across the board. And it doesn’t allow people to really embrace the purpose of the day to begin with.”

In a statement to CTV News, the Manitoba Child Care Association thanked the government for recognizing the holiday and acknowledged the potential issues it could create.

“Absolutely, decisions to close child care, similarly to the decision to close public schools, have impacts on families who are still required to work,” read the statement.

“Today’s notice allows for just under three weeks for some time, albeit not a great deal of time, for child care arrangements to be made if required by families,” the statement went on to read.

As Desjardin ponders what to do with her kids, she hopes the holiday will be more widely observed next year.

“If you are going to do it, do it so everyone can participate. Don’t do it in a way for some employers to pick and choose because that means some people are participating and some people are not.”

-With files from CTV’s Sharon Lindores

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