ABOVE: Mark Carcasole reports on the Ontario Liberals plan to toughen rules on unlicensed day cares.
TORONTO – The Ontario Liberals plan to introduce legislation to strengthen oversight of the province’s unlicensed child care sector by amending the dated Day Nurseries Act following the deaths of two infants this year.
The new “Child Care Modernization Act” would allow the province “to immediately shut down a child care provider when a child’s safety is at risk.”
“When parents drop their children off for child care, they want to know they’re in a safe nurturing environment, regardless of whether they are in licensed or unlicensed care,” said Minister of Education Liz Sandals. “They also need to know that the government will be able to intervene when a child’s safety is at risk.”
The Day Nurseries Act came into force in 1946 and has not been under comprehensive review since 1983.
The move comes after a two-year-old girl died at an unlicensed Vaughan home daycare in July and a nine-month-old child in Markham last month.
The parents of two-year-old Eva Ravikovich have since launched a civil suit against the province and daycare operator for $3.5 million due to negligence.
The child’s cause of death has not been made public as the investigation is still in the hands of the coroner’s office.
Investigators say an autopsy conducted on the nine-year-old found no anatomical cause of death.
A preliminary provincial review found no complaints related to that daycare and is conducting an investigation under the Day Nurseries Act.
A statement of claim from the Ravikovich family alleges the daycare owners were negligent by failing to provide adequate care, supervision and the staff was not properly trained. The lawsuit further states that the Ontario Ministry of Education was negligent by failing to properly inspect, investigate and regulate the daycare.
Ontario’s ombudsman is also investigating whether the government is doing enough to protect children in unlicensed daycares.
The new proposed legisation promises to give parents more access to licensed home-based child care providers by increasing the number of children they can hold from five to six.
All private schools that care for more than five children under the age of four will also require a license.
The province will also have the authority to hand out administrative penalties of up to $100,000 per infraction by a child care provider and increase the maximum penalty for illegal offences under the proposed act from $2,000 to $250,000.
-with a file from The Canadian Press