Lindsey Firestone with her son Ocean and daughter Lily on the way to Deep Cove Elementary School in North Saanich Monday morning. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Saanich School District parents welcome end of strike

Various sides of support worker strike acknowledge remaining tensions

On the first day back from a strike that lasted three weeks, everything around Deep Cove Elementary school in North Saanich appeared the way it did more than three weeks ago.

Students stepped from yellow buses onto wet pavement and crossing guards wearily eyed the column of cars snaking its way along West Saanich Road. But Monday, the first day of school after support workers represented by CUPE 441 ratified a new labour agreement with School District 63, was not like every other day.

RELATED: SD63 strike officially ends with union’s vote to accept agreement

It was the first day after a divisive local labour strike that interrupted the education of 7,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 across multiple communities in Greater Victoria for weeks, made provincial headlines and tested the patience and bank accounts of many groups, including parents, whose reactions to the end of the strike varied.

“I’m really happy,” said Lindsey Firestone. “It was a long time and academically, it is nice to be back.” As the mother of three was balancing a cup of coffee and getting two of her children across West Saanich Road, she recalled the moment, when she heard of the news that the two sides had reached an agreement Saturday.

“I was at Thrifty Foods, I got a text, and I nearly shrieked and jumped up for joy,” she said. She supported the striking support workers and their demands for wage parity. “Everybody wants to see that happen,” she said. “But we also want the kids back in school.”

Sarah Ruddick said the strike did not impact her as much as others. “I’m on maternity leave, so I was able to keep my children at home. But I really feel for those families who had to deal with this strike, and pay out of their pockets to put their kids into care.”

And if Firestone’s combination of euphoria and relief marked one side of the spectrum, Ruddick also issued a warning. If the deal does not end up benefitting support workers after all the struggles, she would consider not voting for the current government in the next election.

School officials, for their part, tried to strike all the right notes.

“We are extremely pleased to have our schools open once again and look forward to re-engaging with our community and providing quality public education,” said Dave Eberwein, the district’s superintendent, in a message posted on the district website.

RELATED: Saanich Peninsula parents accuse district of leveraging deadline

The note acknowledged that the strike was “extremely frustrating and disruptive time for everyone,” including students and families. “We have a long established history of placing high value on the importance of people and relationships in our district, and understand that this disruption to the learning environment has created extra tension.”

Those tensions will likely persist for some time at the highest political level, as a press release from Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich-North suggests. While he welcomed the settlement, the strike raised questions about whether the provincial government is prioritizing education.

“British Columbians are proud of their teachers and schools, and we must continue to invest in their future success,” he said. “The people who are responsible for making our educational systems run — teachers, education assistants, technical support staff, library technicians, family counsellors, custodial and maintenance staff — all require support from the provincial government.”

The provincial government, for its part, has maintained throughout the strike that it values education and educators, while respecting local bargaining in refusing to intervene in the local dispute, a demand of local union leaders, parents and others.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Group desperate to find solution to wrecks lining shores of Cadboro Bay

Caddy Bay ‘a wild west’ without authority, say locals

People-less protest in Victoria holds space for victims of police brutality, systematic racism

People are asked to come learn the names of the lives lost to the hands of racism

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

Victoria police arrest two people during ‘tweet-a-long’ Strike Force operation

VicPD offering ‘behind the scenes’ look at the operation

Greater Victoria tourism industry ‘can’t wait any longer’ for financial aid

Saanich mayor, business owners call on provincial, federal governments for tourism-specific aid

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

Man found dead in his tent at Island homeless camp

Facebook posts tell of personal struggles and attempts to stay clean and sober

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Most Read