The City of Toronto says it will not be able to provide alternate child care options for parents when both Catholic and public elementary school teachers walk off the job for rotating strikes next week.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) confirmed earlier this week that Toronto District School Board teachers, along with public school teachers in York Region and Ottawa, will be fully withdrawing services for one day on Monday as part of its ongoing labour action.

There are approximately 174,000 elementary students enrolled in TDSB schools.

Students at Toronto Catholic schools will also be impacted when members of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association, which represents 45,000 English Catholic school teachers, launch a one-day strike on Jan. 21, affecting both elementary and secondary schools province-wide.

The strikes will leave thousands of parents scrambling to find child care and while some GTA municipalities are providing day camps for students, City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed to CP24 Friday that Toronto will not.

“Unfortunately, the city is not able to provide alternate options for child care due to the short timeframe around logistics of staffing, facility availability and establishing a suitable environment for child care and learning,” Ross said.

The strikes come amid months of tension between the province and Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions, which have been without contracts since August.

Public secondary school teachers in Ontario are also continuing to hold rotating one-day strikes around the province.

Day camps being offered across GTA

While the municipality has no plans to host camps other venues across Toronto will offer respite to parents.

The Royal Ontario Museum has a day camp on Monday for children between the ages of 5 and 14. It will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. but extended child care will be available until 6 p.m. for a fee.

The Ontario Science Centre is also hosting its own one-day camps called “Science Days” on both Monday and Tuesday. The camps are for children between the ages of 5 and 12 and will cost $75 a day.

“It was a bit of a scramble but we pulled everything together,” Lorrie Ann Smith, the director of education with the Ontario Science Centre, told CP24 on Friday morning. “We are offering programming from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with complimentary before and after care so you can drop your kids off at 7:30 a.m. and they can stay till 6 p.m. It will be a full day of science adventure and excitement, so we will be doing interactive science experiments, maybe see an IMAX movie and we will go to the planetarium.”

Smith said that while the strikes have left many parents desperate for child care, there is still an appetite “to get some education in there as well.”

“They (students) are definitely going to get some science-filled fun while they are here,” she promised

Here is a list of day camps available

  • The City of Markham is offering camps and drop-in programs on Monday and Tuesday
  • Camps will be offered at the Ontario Science Centre on Monday and Tuesday
  • The ROM will host a day camp on Monday and will offer extended care from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Toronto Zoo is offering day camps on Monday and Tuesday
  • The City of Brampton is offering camps on both Monday and Tuesday