Daycare closures prove problematic for essential workers
HALIFAX -- With schools and daycares closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, childcare has become an issue for many Maritime families, especially for those in essential services who have to keep working.
Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union, says childcare is a pressure point for nurses who are still working long hours.
“That's creating a challenge for childcare if they're married to someone who is also in an essential service and doesn't have the ability to work from home,” says Hazelton.
Jennifer Hollis is employed by the province of Nova Scotia and is now working from home.
Under normal circumstances, her four-year-old son would be at daycare.
“(Going to work each day) was the eight hours of me. I could get things done and run errands,” says Hollis. “No one other than my employer would ask anything of me, now I'm mom -- worker bee.”
It’s a different story in New Brunswick, where some parents say they are being charged to keep their spot in daycare. Others say their daycare laid off employees and they don't have to pay while the business is closed.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he is examining the policy.
“If someone else is home and they're concerned about paying a daycare operator who's still paying employees, but their salary hasn't been impacted, I think we have to consider the priorities here,” says Higgs.
In Ontario, some childcare facilities will open for the children of healthcare workers and first responders.
“At a time when we need you to do best, which is protect lives, be courageous in your public service, we believe, the government has an obligation to help you and we've got your back,” says Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
Hazelton says she hopes Nova Scotia considers making the same move.
“That might be something that our government at some point will have to consider,” says Hazelton.
Parents like Hollis are coping, trying to stay positive and making the best of a tough situation.
“I'm alright, there have been moments,” says Hollis.
Hollis says her employer is supportive, allowing her to balance her busy home life with professional responsibilities.