The announcement of an unexpected school closure next Monday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II has prompted some strong responses from B.C. parents.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that only federal government employees would get an extra holiday on Monday, but a trigger clause in the contract of B.C.’s public service workers mandates that any federal holiday applies to them as well.
The sudden closure is forcing many parents to scramble for child care or possibly stay home on Monday.
“Parents are scrambling. They are concerned that they still have to go to work and they don’t have anywhere for their children to go,” Cindy Dalglish, chairperson and a founding member of Surrey Students NOW, told Global News.
“There is a concern around more instructional hours taken away from their kids and that puts pressure on teachers to get more instructional hours in in a shorter amount of time.”
Most Crown corporations will be closed and the province is encouraging private-sector employers to find a way to recognize or reflect on the day in a way that is appropriate for their employees.
The decision to provide a day off to public sector workers is also having unintended consequences on an already under-pressure health-care system.
Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Kevin McLeod tweeted on Wednesday that his patients are already being notified of cancelled appointments on Sept. 19.
Medical centres and hospitals will remain open but the expectation is they will operate with less staff.
Health minister Adrian Dix has not responded to concerns about the impact in the health-care system.
Alberta on Wednesday announced that the province will mark Monday as a provincial day of mourning, but will not treat it as a statutory holiday.
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All non-essential government services and offices will be closed in Manitoba, however, schools, child-care facilities and health care facilities will remain open.
New Brunswick will also close its government offices and schools while in Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government offices, schools and other entities will be closed, while the holiday remains optional for private businesses and employers.
Nova Scotia government offices, public schools and regulated child care will be closed, while health care services, appointments and procedures will remain operational across the province.
Premier Doug Ford said Ontario will instead have “a provincial day of mourning”— a moment of silence at 1 p.m. on Sept. 19 when the queen’s state funeral will be held in London.
Prince Edward Island officials confirmed workers in that province will get a one-time statutory holiday.
Quebec has already said workers will not get a day off and Saskatchewan has proclaimed Sept. 19 to be a day to honour the queen, but it has not been designated as a provincial public statutory holiday.
Yukon announced on Wednesday that the territory will be observing a national day of mourning for the queen as a one-time holiday for territorial public sector employees.
In B.C., the courts, liquor and cannabis stores and ICBC will also be closed.
BC Ferries and transit services will be operating.
But many parents are still worried, Dalglish said.
“It’s not a great feeling.”
She said the education system is already overtaxed and another day off is not what teachers, parents and students need.
“It’s a miss for so many people but we do have legal ramifications if we don’t follow collective agreements at this point.”
— with files from Eric Stober, Amanda Connolly and Heidi Lee