The City of Toronto has received authorization from the Province of Ontario to open four licensed child care centres specifically to provide care for children of essential and critical service workers. Centres are located across Toronto in existing City-run licensed child care facilities and staffed by City of Toronto child care workers. 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. Services will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week—a first for the City.
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 is to have children remain at home, if possible.
To be eligible, workers must be required to report to an official work location to deliver the service without the ability to work from home. City staff required to report to an official work location to deliver core essential services are also eligible.
There a number workers that are eligible for emergency child care, including, but not limited to police officers, firefighters or individuals providing fire protection services, regulated health care professionals, unregulated health care providers working in health care, paramedics, individuals who perform work that is essential to the delivery of core services in a municipality (such as TTC, water and solid waste).
A complete list of workers eligible for emergency child care is available at https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/covid-19-child-care-for-essential-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. Once eligible workers complete and submit the online application, they will be contacted by Toronto Children’s Services staff if space is available.
If the level of demand exceeds the ability to provide care, the City will prioritize child care space for front-line health care workers and first responders. If required, the City will work closely with our provincial and community partners to determine how this service may be expanded.
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.
The goal is to open these emergency child care centres as quickly as possible, following an application process for families. For details on eligibility and application, visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-social-support/covid-19-child-care-for-essential-workers/.
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports, and economic recovery measures. Check https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.
“Providing 24-7 licensed child care, even under these circumstances, is a first for the City. Staff have been working with our partners at the Province of Ontario for more than a week to get the right approvals in place to open emergency licensed child care spaces as quickly as possible for our essential and critical workers.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Opening designated child care centres for essential and critical service workers is one way we can support those who are making exceptional efforts to keep our City working despite this pandemic. Knowing that their children are safe and well looked after will ease some of their burden through this difficult and dangerous time.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, Chair, Economic and Community Development Committee
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