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Gov't Strike Website Part of $335,000 'Parent Information' Campaign

Money comes from general advertising budget, ministry says.

By Katie Hyslop 20 Aug 2014 | TheTyee.ca

Katie Hyslop reports on education and youth issues for The Tyee Solutions Society. Follow her on Twitter @kehyslop.

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The BC government budgeted $335,000 to keep parents informed during a potential September teacher strike. Parent photo via Shutterstock.

A website recently launched by the B.C. Education Ministry to keep parents informed about a potential fall teacher strike is part of a larger ministry "information" campaign with a budget of up to $335,000.

A spokesperson said the money for the campaign comes from the government's central advertising department budget. The spokesperson would not say where the idea for the campaign originated, only that it involves the education and finance ministries.

"Obviously government hopes that the program isn't needed; we hope that a settlement is reached before school and the fall will progress as per normal," the spokesperson said.

But if the strike continues, they said, it's important that parents have access to information about what support measures exist for them.

Today's Tyee story about BCParentinfo.ca, which includes information on the government's $40/day childcare reimbursement for parents of children 12 and younger and the bargaining positions of BC Public School Employers' Association, features two provincial labour experts who suggested the site's launch is more about putting pressure on the teachers' union than informing parents about a possible September strike.

Childcare concerns

With childcare notoriously hard to find in the province, Vancouver School Board Chair Patti Bacchus said she's heard from parents who are worried about strike time.

Some parents already find it tough to access childcare for scheduled school closures, despite receiving notice months in advance.

While she acknowledged the $40/day reimbursement will help some parents, her greatest concern is for those with young teenagers who can't access the reimbursement and may have to leave their 13 and 14-year-olds unsupervised in the event of a strike.

"Having had [young teenagers] myself, there's a lot that can happen in the course of a day if parents aren't around," she said. "We're getting concerned about safety and supervision, and the anxiety of no one really knowing what's going to happen."  [Tyee]

Read more: Education, BC Politics

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