By Jessica Robinson, Editor-in-Chief
The Laurentian strike isn’t only keeping students out of school; if it goes on long enough, it will also be keeping kids out of daycare.
Mackenzie MacDonald, a Communications Studies student at Laurentian University (who is also a contributor to The Lambda), originally wasn’t overly concerned about feeling the effects of the strike.
“[But] at 8:30am the morning of the strike, I received an email from my childcare subsidy worker that threw me,” MacDonald says. “My childcare subsidy would only continue until the 31st of October because Laurentian was striking and I was no longer considered a “full time student” for the strikes duration in the eyes of the city.”
This was communicated to MacDonald in a two-line email with the subject line, “University Strike.”
The City of Greater Sudbury runs the childcare subsidy program to help families reduce their child care costs in licensed child care programs. The subsidy is administered by the City of Greater Sudbury, and may cover all, or part, of eligible families’ child care costs. The amount of subsidy provided is determined by an income test.
In order to be eligible for child care subsidy, families must live in the City of Greater Sudbury, and both parents (or the lone parent) must be working, or going to school during the hours when the child is in child care.
“Without subsidy I would be looking to pay $50 a day for childcare, a total of $1500 a month,” MacDonald says. “And as a full time student living on OSAP, the only alternative would be to pull him from his school until I was able to return to Laurentian again.”
“The problem with that however, is that you’re required to give two weeks notice before your child’s last day [at daycare]. Since the strike can last for two weeks before they return to mediation, this would mean I have one-two days to figure out whether I can keep my son in his school, otherwise he loses his spot, which takes over a year’s wait to get.”
Not wanting to pay out of pocket for the unforeseen expense, MacDonald will have to decide by October 15 whether or not she wants to take the risk of trusting that the strike will be over by the 31st, or pull her child out of school and lose his coveted spot in daycare.
“I’m confused, angry, and feel I’m being penalized by the city for not being in school, despite the fact that I have no choice,” she says.
Shannon Dowling, a media relations officer for the City of Greater Sudbury, confirmed that the childcare subsidy will remain in effect until October 31, 2017.
“If the strike continues past that time, the assumption is, what is the need for childcare if the student is no longer in school at that time?” Dowling says. “If they’re no longer taking part in classes, there is no longer a need for the childcare.”
“We understand it’s a little bit of a challenge, considering the circumstances, but there are conversations that can be had,” she continues. “If any student wants to call the [Child Services] office and have a conversation with them, they’re more than happy to chat and explain the process, and address any questions or concerns they might have. Call 311 and ask to speak to somebody in Child Services about childcare subsidies.”
Laurentian University faculty have been striking since Thursday, September 28, 2017. After four consecutive days of mediated negotiating did not result in a deal, professors on the picket line have been telling students to take an early reading week.
The Lambda will continue to post updates on the strike as it unfolds at thelambda.ca.