The City of Toronto has announced the opening of two new emergency child care centres in order to support essential and critical service workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both centres will be located downtown where the City has reportedly seen the most demand.
The first opens on April 13 at 34 Bathurst Street, and the second, located at 1125 Danforth Avenue, will open later this week.
Like the first four child care centres that opened on March 31, the new ones are located in existing City-run licensed child care facilities, and are staffed by City of Toronto child care workers.
Funded by the Province of Ontario, this licensed child care service is available at no cost to qualifying families for children under age 12, and operates 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
Emergency child care services are reserved exclusively for children of essential and critical service workers identified in the Province of Ontario’s “List of Workers Eligible for Emergency Child Care,” who have no other alternatives.
The safest option for families, if possible, is to have children remain at home.
Once eligible workers complete and submit the online application, they will be contacted by Toronto Children’s Services staff if space is available. Child care spaces are are being offered on a first come, first served basis.
To date, Toronto is the only municipality in Ontario to offer this service since provincial approval was granted.
“I commend our staff for working so quickly with our partners at the Province of Ontario to scale up the emergency child care service for essential and critical service workers’ families,” Mayor John Tory said in a release.
“The response for this service has been tremendous and I’m pleased that we can expand it to help more of the heroes we rely on to fight COVID-19.”
Since launching the online application form at the end of March, more than 800 applications have been submitted, and nearly 200 children have been placed in care. Of the submitted applications, 71% were from front-line heath care workers — including Toronto Public Health and Long-Term Care — and first responders.
The City will continue to monitor demand for this service, and will prioritize child care space for front-line health care workers and first responders. If required, the City will work closely with provincial and community partners to expand the service.
Because physical distancing is difficult when caring for young children, additional measures are being taken in consultation with Toronto Public Health and Occupational Health and Safety to maintain a healthy and safe environment.
Precautions include daily screening of children and staff, increased disinfection, reduced group sizes and limiting the number of people in the centre to 50, as per Provincial order.