COVID-19: Parents of Young Children Are at Their Wits’ End

Parents who see their license margin decrease because their children have symptoms of COVID-19 are at their wits’ end after more than a year and a half of the pandemic.

“I know I’m going to lose my job,” says Simon (not his real name), the father of a mixed family of five children.

Since March, she has accrued nearly thirty days of absence from her job at an intermediate facility in Quebec because one or more of her children had to be removed from school or daycare for symptoms related to COVID-19 or administrative segregation. He requested anonymity so as not to aggravate the situation.

Last March he received a letter of dismissal from his employer for unexcused absences. A few days later, he received a letter of apology that Le Journal was able to consult. He specified that one of his absences was finally “motivated by a medical note.”

“I’m tan, tan, tan,” he sighs. “I feel bad. I feel judged like a 16-year-old after brushing.”

“But at some point, [si un enfant doit rester à la maison], no alternative. “

With the rise of the Delta variant and the increase in contacts with the population, this drop is no easier to live than last year for parents who have to be absent from work all the time. To take care of their children, according to several. Speakers.

On September 23, a new directive came into force for all nurseries and nurseries. From now on, when one of the children shows symptoms, all their preschool siblings will have to isolate themselves while they wait for the test result.

“We are in October […] What are we going to do when the cold comes? ”Asks Lise Dupont, 30, a Mascouche mother whose 3-year-old girl has already been moved four or five times since August.

Preventive isolation is “a necessary evil,” recalls Dr. Guillaume Lafortune. Without outbreak control, schools and daycare centers would be closed regularly for long periods, he illustrates.

This Montérégie neurologist is in a good position to understand exhausted parents: since the start of the pandemic, he and his wife estimate that they have had to cancel between 300 and 400 appointments to pick up their own children from daycare.

“It is really boring for the patients. There are some who are older, so their children must have missed work too. [pour les amener au rendez-vous]»Illustrates Dr. Elizabeth Rivard, pulmonologist.

It has also created a system to avoid penalizing patients too much. Each month, plan a day or two without an appointment. So you can replace missed appointments for family reasons these days. “To date, it has not occurred to me to have a day to relax,” he laughs.

“It is the situation that is complex. I don’t see who is to blame, ”concludes Mr. Lafortune, urging parents to stand firm.

For Manon Poirier, Managing Director of the Order of Human Resource Advisers, it goes without saying that employers no longer have the option to be tolerant and understand the reality of parents, even if they are struggling to find replacements due to a shortage of workforce. .

“An organization that does not take care of its world will not achieve its objectives. Not today ”, especially since workers have many options in the market, he explains.

Daycare centers and daycare centers would like to have access to rapid screening tests in the same way as schools to avoid unnecessary parental withdrawals.

“In short, it’s hell,” says Mona Lisa Borrega, vice president of the Association des garderies privée du Québec.

“We play police a lot and we are exhausted,” he said. “95% of parents collaborate, but that is 5% mozus, the problem,” he said.

For example, he had to close the daycare in his own daycare because an infected parent showed up and infected other people there. However, in early childhood settings, young people do not wear a mask and distance is impossible to respect.

“Get quick tests, at least to evaluate our own employees and avoid downtime,” he asks.

“We can’t constantly ask parents to take a break,” says Valérie Ellzy-Robert, general manager of CPE La Voie Lactée in Saint-Hubert, which was closed from September 2-13.

It would even be prepared for its establishment to serve as a pilot project.

This is what the Association québécoise des CPE has asked the government, so far to no avail. “We don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we have this tool, the rapid screening tests, which we don’t use. […] We believe that it could change the reality of families ”, says director Geneviève Bélisle.

Julie Lafond totally agrees. “I would be willing to pay for these tests,” said this mother of three from the Granby region. This week she found out that her son’s second grade class was closing. However, she and her spouse have already accumulated ten days of absence since the beginning of the school year.

“It seems that we are regressing,” wonders the one who struggles to get screening appointments in her corner or to see a doctor for her children’s ear infections as the “hot” clinics close.

For its part, the Ministry of Health indicates that it is working to evaluate “the different screening strategies that could be implemented” in nurseries.

– With Daphnée Dion-Viens from the Journal de Québec


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