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Coronavirus: Toronto to open 4 child-care centres for essential service workers

Coronavirus outbreak: Ford government to discuss providing childcare services to healthcare workers
(March 20) During Friday’s briefing on Ontario's response to COVID-19, Premier Doug Ford said his cabinet would be discussing options to provide child-care services to health-care workers and front-liners.

The City of Toronto is set to open four child-care centres dedicated exclusively to essential service workers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement came around one week after the province said the facilities would be opening for front-line workers, with costs covered by the government.

“Centres are located across Toronto in existing City-run licensed child-care facilities and staffed by City of Toronto child-care workers,” officials said in a news release.

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“Toronto is the first city to receive approval and open these responsive child-care facilities. To support members of this essential and critical workforce, licensed child-care service will be available at no cost to families, funded by the Province of Ontario, for children under age 12.”

They will operate 24/7.

The provincial government created a list of workers eligible for coverage. It includes health-care professionals, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and people who deliver essential services in municipalities, like TTC workers.

“Due to limited space in order to maintain provincial health and safety requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City will commit to child-care spaces for eligible families on a first come, first served basis,” the release said.

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“Once eligible workers complete and submit the online application, they will be contacted by Toronto Children’s Services staff if space is available.”

Officials said if capacity is reached, priority will be given to front-line health-care workers and first responders. If required, the city will work with the province to see how the service could be expanded.

The facilities will open “as quickly as possible” following the application process.

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Eligible individuals can apply here.

Officials said there will be precautions put in place at the centres, including increased disinfection.

Meanwhile, Toronto Public Health said there were 512 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city as of Saturday afternoon, an increase of 74 since the day prior.

Of those cases, 36 are in hospital and 17 are in the ICU. Twenty-four have recovered.

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