‘It’s frustrating’: Saanich school strike enters third day

Click to play video: 'Saanich schools closed for second straight day'
Saanich schools closed for second straight day
Support workers continued to walk the picket lines outside 18 Saanich schools on Tuesday. Kylie Stanton spoke with one family that's feeling the impact of the strike on both ends. – Oct 29, 2019

A strike by school support workers in Saanich means another day off school, creating a major impact on more than 7,300 students and their families.

It’s hitting the Halber-Boshard’s particularly hard.

“Financially, emotionally, logistically,” said Michelle Bochard.

At issue is a wage disparity between districts, in some cases by as much as $4 an hour.

READ MORE: 18 Saanich schools to be closed Monday as support workers take strike action

Rene Halber works as an educational assistant in the district, and knows the struggle all too well.

“It’s frustrating, because we have a life to live, we have a mortgage to pay, we have kids to help at home.”

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Click to play video: 'Thousands of Saanich students out of class'
Thousands of Saanich students out of class

For Halber, the job never ends. The family is already homeschooling their 15-year-old son with special needs due to lack of support by the district.

“This strike is an acute presentation of a symptom that’s pervasive in the entire school system, no matter what district,” Boshard said.

READ MORE: B.C. teachers’ pay now at the heart of stalled contract negotiations

Now, having their 11-year-old daughter home as well means lost wages, and time off. Not knowing if or when the strike will end only adds to the stress.

“The political football will go on without addressing children’s and families’ needs, and as a result we could lose our homes, we could lose our jobs,” Boshard said.

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Click to play video: 'Commuters prepare back-up plans for looming transit strike'
Commuters prepare back-up plans for looming transit strike

“It’s a very real problem that needs a solution now.”

There is no word on when the two parties will be returning to the bargaining table, but Education Minister Rob Fleming said the province is ready and willing.

READ MORE: B.C. teachers head back to class amid stalled contract negotiations

“We’ve done that with 53 other support staff collective agreements under this mandate, and we want to do the exact same for Saanich, so we’re open to discussions.”

In the meantime, Halber plans to be on the picket line. He’s not only fighting for himself, but the support his family desperately needs and deserves.

“Hopefully something we can work out sooner rather than later,” he said.


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