Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that childcare will reopen on June 12, following strict public health guidelines and limits on the number of children allowed into the facility.
“As a father, I know there’s nothing more important than the safety of our children. Parents need to know care for their children are in a safe and healthy environment,” Ford said during his press conference on Monday.
Ford emphasized that all childcare centres will be allowed to reopen with some restrictions, similar to those seen in the emergency childcare centres that have been open during the pandemic for essential workers.
According to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, the province will limit the number of kids putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day.
All children and staff will be screened for symptoms prior to entry and there is a no visitor policy. There will also be the removal of all toys that could spread germs.
Lecce added that each centre must have a response plan in place if a child, parents, or staff are exposed to the coronavirus. All plans require training, reporting, and support from the local medical officer of health before reopening is permitted.
The child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing and enhanced cleaning protocols must be implemented.
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“We know the integral role child care plays in the restart of Ontario’s economy, especially when it comes to enabling parents to return to work,” said Lecce.
“But parents must have confidence in the child care system at this very difficult time. By imposing specific public health requirements, we are signalling our firm commitment to keeping our children, staff, and our families safe.”
Effectively immediately, staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening. When these operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines for reopening, they will be permitted to reopen.
Leece added that the province will be stepping up inspections to ensure compliance and safety, with fines being given up to$1,000 per child if failing to meet standards.
He added that a lot of parents won’t send their children to childcare centres and therefore, believes there will be enough capacity even with reduced availability, saying frontline workers will get first chance at spots.
But he assured parents that don’t have their children in childcare during this time, that they will keep their spots and not be charged.
Ford also announced that summer day camps will also be allowed to reopen as part of Stage 2, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with strict health and safety protocols in place.
“We’ll keep parents informed so they can plan ahead,” Ford said.
He noted that he is “confident” that the rest of the province will enter Stage 2 very soon.
On Monday, Ford announced that most regions in the province could enter Stage 2 of reopening the economy on Friday.
However, select regions must move into the next stage at a later date, including Toronto Durham, Hamilton, Niagara, Peel, York, Haldimand-Norfolk, Halton, Lambton, and Windsor-Essex.