Teacher strike cheques in the mail

More than half of payments to parents for BCTF strike have been mailed, and the rest are going soon, totalling $15.3 million

Finance Minister Mike de Jong

The B.C. government has sent out 165,000 cheques to B.C. parents to compensate them for school days lost in the teacher strike in September, accounting for more than half of the students eligible for the $40-a-day payments.

The finance ministry reports that nearly 230,000 families have registered for the payments, which cover 13 school days missed in September before a contract was reached and teachers returned to work. Those families represent 295,000 children aged 12 and under enrolled in public school, 97 per cent of the total eligible.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the first batch of cheques went out Oct. 20. He said with the vast number of applications it’s possible there will be “glitches” due to data entry errors, and some applications are taking longer to verify.

“For children who were not in public school last year, for example children now in kindergarten for the first time, it will take a week or two longer to process those cheques,” de Jong said.

CTV reported on one case Wednesday where separated parents both applied for the fund and are in a dispute over which should receive it.

Parents and primary caregivers have until the end of January to register for the payments, online at bcparentinfo.ca or by phone at 1-877-387-3332 to receive paper application forms.

The payments are not considered taxable income and do not affect benefits such as the B.C. early childhood tax benefit, sales tax credit or federal GST credit.

Payments to the eligible students who have registered represent a $15.3 million cost to the provincial treasury, equivalent to payroll savings during the strike.