By Monique Taylor, News staff
Seven weeks ago, two-year-old Eva Ravikovich died while in the care of an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan.
As a mother, I can only imagine how devastatingly heartbreaking it must be for the family to lose a child, with her whole life ahead of her, under such tragic circumstances.
As an MPP, I’m deeply concerned we don’t have a child-care system doing more to prevent accidents such as this from happening.
We now know that the Ministry of Education had received five complaints about this same Vaughan daycare before the July tragedy. Four of those complaints went unanswered by the ministry.
Sadly, this is not an isolated case and not the first time a child has died in an unlicensed child-care setting in Ontario.
In January 2011, a 14-month-old baby died after being shaken to death by a Mississauga daycare operator. In 2010, a two-year-old died after being found at the bottom of a pool at an unlicensed operator in Orleans. We have also learned 25 complaints received by the Ministry of Education in the 18 months up to July 12, 2013, were not addressed with a site visit.
Unlicensed child care is legal in Ontario for settings with five or less children in addition to the caregiver’s own children. When the Vaughan daycare was inspected after Eva’s death, they found 27 children at the house – a clear and extreme violation of the only rule they have to adhere to.
In Ontario, there are no other rules regulating unlicensed daycares beyond the limit on the number of children they can have in their care.
In contrast, licensed childcare facilities must meet specific provincial standards that provide for the health, safety and developmental needs of children. They are inspected annually and a searchable database of violations is maintained.
Unfortunately, the lack of licensed childcare spaces, and in particular affordable childcare, means families are forced to turn to unlicensed daycare providers.
All parents deserve to know their children are in safe hands, but the government has let them down. They should do the right thing and release full information about the complaint and safety violation records of all home daycares so that parents can know whether their daycare is safe.
Immediately following the incident in Vaughan, I wrote to Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin asking him to investigate the adequacy of the Government of Ontario’s protection of children in unlicensed child care operations. Thankfully, he has agreed to step in.
The recommendations that come out of the Ombudsman’s investigation will be important and I look forward to hearing them. Are current procedures adequate to the safety and well-being of children in unlicensed daycare settings? What new policies and procedures need to be put in place?
These are the sort of questions we need answered because a daycare must not be a dangerous place for a child.
Monique Taylor is the MPP for Hamilton Mountain.
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