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Teachers’ strikes are taking their toll on London-area parents needing child care

All 83,000 elementary teachers across Ontario are on strike. Feb 6, 2020. Robbie Ford / Global News

Finding child care is becoming more difficult for some parents as elementary teachers enter another week of rotating strikes.

“We are struggling with both of us working full time, we are trying to manage our time and share the responsibility of working from home or finding caregivers,” Tania Bond said.

Bond was one of many parents at London’s Factory indoor adventure park on Tuesday, taking advantage of the “jump all day” promotions happening during the strikes.

The elementary teachers are among four unions participating in what appear to be stalled bargaining talks with the Ontario government.

The Thames Valley District School Board was among the boards striking Monday, and Tuesday the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is holding its second province-wide strike to put pressure on the government in contract talks.

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READ MORE: Elementary schools closed as teachers hit the picket line in 2nd Ontario-wide strike

Bond said it’s getting more difficult for her and many other parents but adds she is thankful her job has some flexibility.

“Parents are relying on each other at this point but we are getting worn out by having to rely on one another for child care and trying to find something.”

She said many parents are hoping for an end soon so their children can have some consistency.

Annie Brosens, who has four kids and works in health care at a hospice, says the strikes are starting to take their toll.

“I was done work at 7 a.m. this morning, and I am in Stratford and I drove here, so I don’t get to go home and sleep like I would, I have to just parent. It’s so exhausting.”

As the strikes continue, Brosens said she is going to have to start using sick days and find alternative options like relying on grandparents or finding a babysitter.

READ MORE: Several rounds of teacher strikes scheduled for Ontario schools this week

Last month, the Ford government promised to give parents of children affected by the strikes up to $60 per day.

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The ETFO has planned one province-wide strike a week until a new deal is reached and is holding rotating strikes, ensuring that each school board gets hits twice weekly.

Meanwhile, contract talks between the ETFO and the province seem to have broken down.

ETFO president Sam Hammond said after three days of recent talks, the sides were close to a deal, but said the province’s negotiators suddenly tabled new proposals at the 11th hour that the union couldn’t accept.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said compensation remains the key issue, and that the teachers are advancing higher wages at the expense of their students.

Teachers in the French system are holding a province-wide strike on Thursday, and high school teachers are staging a one-day strike at select boards that same day.

With files from the Canadian Press

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