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Letter: Salmon Arm parent distraught over day-care sickness policy

I know everyone has had their struggles through Covid no matter what life stage they’re in, but the last six months have been particularly challenging for caregivers of young kids.

While workplaces loosened up and expectations of returning to normal work schedules/responsibilities increased, strict day-care sick policies remain in place.

Many parents I know, particularly women, have been doing double duty since flu season hit, working evenings and weekends, or managing the impossible task of working and looking after a toddler. This sometimes went on for weeks, usually because the child had a residual cough or runny nose. All the while parents paid full price for their day-care spot.

Many of us were very understanding of precautions during the uncertain times, telling ourselves like all mandates and policy adjustments, they would be temporary. That’s why I’m shocked to learn some day-care operations are planning to keep zero-symptom policies in place indefinitely.

They are making this decision despite updated BC CDC recommendations for communicable disease prevention in day-cares not being nearly as strict. This zero symptom policy is unscientific and ineffective at mitigating the spread of viruses. Case and point: a gastrointestinal virus breakout at our daycare last week. A facility that claims these no-tolerance policies mitigate the spread of illness had a viral outbreak. The reality is symptoms do not equal contagion – many viruses are spread when asymptomatic.

It seems to me that policies that do not do what they say they do ought to be reviewed.

The BC NDP has done an admiral job making childcare more affordable, but none of that matters if the facility is not reliable. Working parents seek out childcare because they have jobs to go to. It’s no wonder we have a labour shortage – half the population of people with kids under five can’t work. This isn’t sustainable and yet the fate of childcare reliability is up to the discretion of private business owners and boards that behave like autocrats.

Thanks to limited spaces available in relation to demand, childcare providers have the upper hand over desperate parents.

If you believe policies affecting the reliability of childcare should be set and directed by the province to maintain consistency in access across B.C., email Katrina.Chen.MLA@leg.bc.ca and let her know you support affordable, reliable childcare. Better yet, make it public and part of the educational system – but that’s perhaps another letter.

Kristine Wickner

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