Vancouver News | Local Breaking | CTV News Vancouver
'My women need me right now': Frontline worker on Downtown Eastside struggles to get child care
VANCOUVER -- As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens all British Columbians, Ally Mallalieu is feeling torn between her kids and her work on the Downtown Eastside.
“I’m a peer service navigator in an organization that helps at risk women,” she told CTV News.
“I connect women to internal and external resources whether that’s mental health teams, or just where they can get their next meal or shelters.”
But right now she’s not at work. Mallalieu has to be home with her two kids, aged five and one, because they can’t go to day care.
Her youngest, Jackson, has a runny nose so he can’t be in care with other kids.
“He’s had a runny nose for maybe six months, it’s just a clear, normal kid runny nose,” she explained.
She said she got a doctor’s note from their family physician explaining that he’s healthy, but given the new rules it’s not enough.
As for her five year old, Finley, he was at a camp over March break that has since been closed.
“They’re not going to be continuing throughout the year as they’re on a school property, so they can’t open,” Mallalieu said.
Mallalieu told CTV News her partner also works with Vancouver’s homeless population, so the two of them are scrambling to find a way to care for their kids, and for one of the most vulnerable populations in the city.
“The women down there, they need a familiar face,” she said, “In all this storm that’s going on, they need the people that they trust and count on to be there for them, and I can’t be there and that breaks my heart.”
She said since the COVID-19 pandemic began, she’s become more concerned for Vancouver’s large homeless population.
“Shelters have gone into lockdown, and the shelters are unable to take more people in,” she said. “I’m noticing a lot more people are not having the resources they need and they don’t have the supports they need, there’s a lot of fear."
The family lives in West Vancouver, and when CTV News reached to the district, out a spokesperson said in a statement, “West Vancouver staff are looking into our existing child care capabilities and the possibility of adding more. At this time we have not determined just how that would work, but we hope to have more information soon.”
Since Mallalieu provides an essential service in the City of Vancouver, CTV News reached out to that municipality as well.
In a statement a spokesperson wrote they’ve set up a “child care task force” and that they’re “currently looking at how we can support staff and other essential service workers in Vancouver.
“We are working with a number of partners to help people access childcare assistance if they have no other options," the statement also said. "Right now, we are assessing the need and in the coming days, more information will be provided on the services to be offered.”
It was not made clear to CTV News as to whether Mallalieu would qualify for City of Vancouver child care options.
On March 20, the City of Surrey announced it would close two civic run day cares, opening spaces up only for frontline and essential workers starting on March 23.
“I think there should be day care provided for frontline workers and essential services workers,” said Mallalieu, “It’s not just for the babies under five, it’s for those over five who now don’t have school and before and after school care. I think it would be really important.”
For now she’s home with her two boys, as she waits to find out what sort of supports her family may have. The City of Vancouver will provide an update on its plans to support residents Thursday afternoon.