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Coronavirus: Peterborough offers free childcare for hospital, health unit employees

Peterborough is offering free child care for employees of the city's hospital and health unit.
Peterborough is offering free child care for employees of the city's hospital and health unit. Global News file

The City of Peterborough will be offering free child care services to parents who work at Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Peterborough Public Health beginning Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the city announced the service will be offered through a new emergency child care plan for provincially identified essential workforces.

There will be 114 spaces available for children, from infants to 12-year-olds. To be eligible, the family must have no other option for child care, the city stated.

READ MORE: What is an essential service? After groceries, it depends where you live in Canada

The City of Peterborough closed its daycare facilities on March 17. At the time, they were expected to remain closed until March 31.

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No other licensed child care providers are allowed to be open at this time, except through the emergency child care plan, which is being delivered by Social Services for the City and County of Peterborough.

“The workers at Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Peterborough Public Health are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Mayor Diane Therrien.

“Our community is extremely grateful for the efforts of all workers who are protecting the health and safety of others as well as ensuring that essential services continue.”

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The provincial government has allowed for limited operation of licensed child care centres and licensed home child care approved to operate under the emergency child care plan.

READ MORE: These are the heroes of COVID-19

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“Our frontline health care professionals, those who are risking their health to help others, are true heroes,” said Peterborough-Kawartha MPP Dave Smith. “We need to take care of the hands that take care of us and our government’s provision of child care for frontlines workers is, simply put, the least we can do.

“I hope they and their families stay safe and healthy throughout this pandemic. Together, we will get through this.”

The city says future phases of program (if spaces are available) could include staff at long-term care homes, paramedics, fire protection services, police, water and electricity utilities and social services as well as other occupations identified by the province.

On Thursday, Peterborough Public Health said they would closely monitor the child care services. There will be a maximum of six children and two care providers in each room – and not more than 50 people, including children, staff and parents, in a building at any one time.

“Our role will be to ensure that infection control measures will be followed,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, medical officer of health.

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Staff will be trained on how to monitor for illness and how to respond if someone becomes ill, Therrien said.

“We will ensure that there’s active screening in place,” she said.

The city said both the hospital and health unit are distributing information to their employees on how to apply for the child care services

The application process is centralized through the City of Peterborough, which is opening its municipal Peterborough Child Care and Pearson Child Care programs as well as working with community providers including Compass Early Learning and Care, Northview Day Care and Wee Watch Home Child Care.