P.E.I. schools staying shut until at least Monday; province to cover wages from lost shifts

Queen Charlotte Intermediate is one of six schools on P.E.I. that suffered significant damage from post-tropical storm Fiona. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
Queen Charlotte Intermediate is one of six schools on P.E.I. that suffered significant damage from post-tropical storm Fiona. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
  • The briefing will also be carried live on CBC Radio One in P.E.I., 96.1 FM.

All English and French public schools will remain closed until at least Monday, Oct. 3, Education Minister Natalie Jameson said during a news briefing Tuesday.

Even then, it may not be a "normal" return, she said.

Six schools on P.E.I. have received significant damage. The schools are École Évangéline, Queen Charlotte Intermediate, Cardigan Consolidated, East Wiltshire Intermediate, West Royalty Elementary and Westwood Primary.

Students may need to move temporarily to other schools. It may also require some online learning, she said.

Jameson also asked people to stay off school property — including playgrounds and sports fields — until classes resume.

Shane Hennessey/CBC
Shane Hennessey/CBC

Fiona hit P.E.I. early Saturday morning, leaving widespread destruction and power outages.

"We need our schools to be safe for our students and our staff to return," she said.

Assessments of schools are underway, she said. Some have water damage. Another update will be provided later in the week, Jameson said.

Some child-care centres are open for essential workers. Essential workers in need of child care can email childcarepostfiona@gov.pe.ca.

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

Wage rebate for employees

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Cory Deagle and Economic Growth Minister Bloyce Thompson also spoke at the briefing, giving updates on recovery supports.

Thompson announced a wage rebate for employees who missed shifts due to businesses being closed.

"After these stressful and challenging days, this should be the last thing on your minds," he said.

Money will be given to employers to distribute to employees. Employees will be reimbursed 100 per cent up to a maximum of $25 per hour, or $1,000 per week, per employee.

Businesses can begin to apply for the funds next week.

Money for municipal cleanup

The province will provide money for any municipality that needs to hire people to help with cleanup, Thompson said.

Deagle spoke about cleanup efforts, which he said will take "weeks and days, not hours."

There was damage to six bridges on P.E.I., he said. Five will be repaired by early next week. The bridge at French Village will take longer, he said.

Island Waste Management will open sites for disposal on Thursday. Drop-off fees will be waived for residents dropping off spoiled food and waste, Deagle said.

"There's no rush to get to these sites, as cleanup is still ongoing," he said.

Some roads will need to be temporarily closed to allow Maritime Electric to work unobstructed. Residents are asked not to help remove trees from streets where there are power lines.

A second news briefing, with Premier Dennis King, Emergency Measures Organization director Tanya Mullally and Maritime Electric spokesperson Kim Griffin, will be held at 2:30 p.m. AT.

Emergency fund in Charlottetown

The City of Charlottetown will tap into its $1.5-million extraordinary expenses fund to help with the cleanup.

Council approved the spending at a special council meeting Monday night.

Mayor Philip Brown said council has given CAO Donna Waddell approval to provide more clean-up services through private contractors. The city is working in conjunction with Maritime Electric to clear trees and get the power back on for residents.

Brown said he has called the prime minister to request more assistance.