The strike is on and many parents have already applied for their $40-per-day Temporary Education Support for Parents ("TESP") offered by the British Columbia government, for public school students aged 12 and under who are not able to attend school due to the teacher's strike. For separated or divorced parents in British Columbia, the question arises: who gets the money? The BC government website set up to accept registration for the TESP, provides that you must be the "parent/ primary caregiver of each student you register". The website elaborates:
"The parent/ primary caregiver is the person primarily responsible for the care and upbringing of the student. While usually the parent, a primary caregiver could also be a: step-parent, legal guardian, adoptive parent (including a parent that has not yet completed the adoption process but the student lives with them), foster parent, family member who normally cares for the student (such as a grandparent), host parent for international students, caregiver under a temporary custody arrangement." Under "Frequently Asked Questions", the primary caregiver is described as "the person responsible for the day to day care and upbringing of the student for the majority of the time." For separated or divorced parents, the parents themselves must decide which parent will register for the payment, as the payments will be issued to one parent only. Many separated or divorced parents in British Columbia will be able to agree upon who will apply and how the TESP will be used, particularly where the cost of strike child care matches the TESP rate of $40 per day. But there will always be those cases where the parties are unable to come to consensus. Separated or divorced parents may find themselves disputing how the TESP ought to be used in the event the parties do not require additional paid childcare during the strike, or on the flip side, if the TESP is insufficient to cover the family's childcare needs. There also appears to be no recourse built into the TESP program where a parent applies for the supplement despite not having care and control of the children for the majority of the time. With the TESP set at approximately $1,200 per student per month, BC Family Lawyers can expect to see the allocation of the money crop up as an issue in child and spousal support applications in the BC Courts long after the strike is over. However, parents would be wise to work out an agreement on the TESP between themselves, or most of that money will end up with the lawyers!