As some 55,000 education support workers prepare to potentially strike Monday, private businesses across the province are offering programs and activities to accommodate alternative child care for parents.
The owner of Just Bounce says her North York and Newmarket locations will be open and ready to take any kids in what will essentially be fall versions of summer camps.
"We've got a set of coaches just on standby,” owner Jacinda David said.
“We've sent out two staff schedules for the week, one for if there's a strike, and one for if there's not. And our staff knows that if there is a strike, we expect to see them in the morning."
Ever since the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) announced the strike deadline, David and many other businesses in the GTA have been letting parents know about so-called strike camps.
An empty teacher's desk is pictured in an empty classroom at Mcgee Secondary school in Vancouver on Sept. 5, 2014. A major union representing education workers in Ontario says its members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a potential strike that could take effect by the end of the month.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
At Active Kids Zone in North York, posters on the centre's window have been telling parents they'll be open in the event of a strike.
"We had an email inbox full of online requests to register," co-owner Jennifer Fleischer said.
Fleischer said she is planning a reboot of summer camps, and has the flexibility to manage whatever happens.
"I do have quite a few staff that can help us out. I still have supplies and stuff left over from summer camp which was just a little more than a month ago."
At Toronto Athletic Camps headquarters in North York, director Alex Arthur has spoken to his team about how they'll manage if the strike goes ahead.
"We're prepared to go as long as the strike lasts, and to be here every day for the parents,” Arthur said.
“So anytime they want to click, register or drop in we'll be ready. And we'll be ready for as many people as we can."
The group offers a range of a sport and technical programs to keep kids busy when they would otherwise be in school. Arthur said thar parents are relieved to hear that popular camps will be running as long as the strike lasts.
"We know it’s a real crunch for parents. So they know for [camps], they can turn to us."
There are plenty of options for parents, but in each case they'll have to pay-out-of-pocket if a strike does take effect.
Here is a list of a few options for parents across Ontario:
- The Canadian Children’s Theatre Co. in Aurora is offering a musical theatre camp for school-aged children from junior kindergarten and up.
- Reptillia, which has locations in Vaughan and Whitby, will have day camps where kids can learn about reptiles.
- Hub Climbing rock climbing camps will be availabe at both their Markham and Mississauga locations.
- Electric Moon Theatre Company will be offering day camps, programs and supervised activities in the event of a strike.
- Krudar Muay Thai in Scarborough is offering a day camp where kids can learn the basics of the mixed martial arts.
- JEI Learning Centre will have camps available for kids at their Richmond Hill and Markham locatioins.
- The Groove School of Dance will feature camps for kids who want to sing, dance and act.