The Ontario government announced on Sunday that it will be opening select child care centres across the province to help frontline workers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan is to exempt certain centres from the order the provincial government gave to close all licensed child care centres under the state of emergency that Premier Doug Ford announced earlier in the week.
“We need to help our nurses, doctors and frontline care workers to be able to focus on protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians,” said Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott in a statement Sunday afternoon.
“By allowing select child care centres to open their doors during these challenging times, our province’s courageous frontline workers can rest assured knowing that their families are also being looked after.”
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the services would be free and covered by the government.
Included under health care and frontline workers eligible for child care are doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police and correctional officers.
“…These are all women and men who are literally demonstrating the best of our country and rising to the challenge and the heroism they’re providing on a daily basis I think very much is something we need to reciprocate with some support.” Lecce said.
“That’s why this step will make a difference for them and just help even incrementally take a bit of pressure off on the home front so they can do the great work they’re doing in our health care and frontline services.”
The centres that will be opened will be “required to follow existing health and safety requirements and have a plan in place should any staff, children or parents be exposed to the virus.”
“We need to protect the safety of the staff and children at these centres,” said Lecce.
“For that reason, we are putting strict measures in place, such as restricting the types of centres that can re-open and keeping the number of children in any one centre low.”
Ontario health officials announced 47 new cases of coronavirus in the province, bringing the total to 413 confirmed positive. Eight cases have been resolved and there have been three deaths.
Once the list is finalized, the locations can be found ontario.ca/coronavirus.