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Coronavirus: Quebec announces funding for day camps while parents scramble for alternatives

Coronavirus: Parents struggling to find summer childcare as many day camps plan to stay closed
WATCH: The Quebec government announced $11 million in extra funding for day camp operators on Tuesday, to help offset the costs of hiring extra staff and other COVID-19 related expenses. Some camps, however, say they still won't be able to open, leaving some parents scrambling for alternatives. Global's Felicia Parrillo explains.

Beth Beecher’s two sons wait all year for summer to come along, just so they can go to Montreal West’s day camp.

“It fits with our budget, it fits with our lifestyle and yesterday we were informed that they’re not opening the camps for the summer,” she said.

Beecher says the cancellation is disappointing for her and her sons, but it’s also left her scrambling for other options.

READ MORE: A list of Quebec summer camps that have chosen to remain closed

“The only alternative, other than bringing the kids to work, which is really the nine times out of 10 what happens, is to cheaply employ a high schooler with this as our budget. This is what we got, what can you do with it,” said Beecher.

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Nearly two weeks ago, the provincial government announced day camps would be allowed to operate this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, many municipalities and private camps have decided not to, citing the strict public health guidelines provided to them.

READ MORE: Day camps to open on June 22 as Legault says Quebec not yet ready for 2nd possible coronavirus wave

On Tuesday afternoon, Quebec made an announcement aimed at helping camps open.

The province will be giving $11 million to the Quebec Camp Association to help pay for extra staff.

“I hope the camps that said they will not open this summer will reconsider because our goal is to make sure as many children as possible are participating in camps this summer,” said Isabelle Charest, Quebec’s junior education minister.

Several Montreal-area municipalities cancel 2020 day camp programs
Several Montreal-area municipalities cancel 2020 day camp programs

Since many traditional camps won’t be open for business this summer, a 15-year-old Hampstead resident came up with an idea after his neighbours asked him to babysit their kids.

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Matthew Fixman working on a free trial for his outdoor kid-sitting service on June 2, 2020.
Matthew Fixman working on a free trial for his outdoor kid-sitting service on June 2, 2020. Matthew Fixman

“It kind of came to me. Why not just make this bigger because I know a lot of children the same age, and parents of children that same age,” said Matthew Fixman.

“I said, ‘why not just make a good summer job out of this, and also help my friends out by getting them a good summer job?'”

Fixman, with the help of his former math teacher, created Fixxy’s Clubhouse, an outdoor kid-sitting service.

READ MORE: Quebec camp operators hopeful summer camps will open

“We’ll take your child and three other of their friends for a three-hour period between 1 and 4 p.m., and we play activities, sports, we can do art, jewelry making, dancing, biking around — anything that the children want to do.”

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Montreal West and Pointe-Claire told Global News they will not re-consider their decision to open day camps.

It’s unclear if other municipalities will follow suit.