Opinion

Parents facing childcare crisis

The recent Supreme Court decision that led to a new deal for B.C. teachers is good news for the province’s education systemas well as parents of school-aged children.

But the deal which will result in the hiring of more than 1,000 teachers and lower class sizes at schools across the province does not address an even more pressing need for many parents. While the number of classrooms will grow, a lack of space issqueezing out many children in need of out-of-school care. At Saanich’s Campus View elementary, for example, smaller classsizes combined with a bump in enrolment is resulting in the need for an additional kindergarten class. And with five portablesalready on the school grounds, the Campus View Out of School Club is feeling the pinch, with the waiting list to get into theprogram climbing to 70.

The problems here in Saanich are compounded by the potential closure of the University of Victoria’s Child Care Services. UVichas proposed cancelling their out-of-school services for elementary-aged children, and using the space that accommodates48 kids for a children under-five program.

“We had about 20 people sleep overnight in the freezing cold [on Feb.1] and that was just to get on the waitlist, and themajority of them were from UVic,” said Tracy Frolek, manager of the Campus View Out of School Club.

The desperate situation so many parents find themselves in makes it evident that the province and local governments must domore to address the growing need for childcare spaces. The problem has given rise to a $10-a-day childcare campaignseeing growing support across the province.

The success of that campaign would certainly provide more affordable care for B.C. parents, however, the additional spaceswould not appear overnight. The immediate need could be lessened through UVic’s Centre 6, which could add 50,000 hoursof availability annually by repurposing the facility that sits empty until 3 p.m.

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