Ontario Online School Starting and Free Emergency Child Care Not in Place

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario schools would be pivoting to online learning until at least January 17. Although everyone knows that schools are not a babysitting service, many healthcare workers and frontline staff depend upon in-class systems to be there for their children when the cost of daycare is so high. It’s not a pleasant reality, but it still is a reality. With Bill 124, which capped nurse’s wages, several nursing staff are finding it difficult to manage during this crisis. Single mom’s in healthcare are finding this time especially hard. 

It was noted on the media release from the Premier’s office that “free emergency child care (was) planned for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.” ( retrieved from https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/1001394/ontario-temporarily-moving-to-modified-step-two-of-the-roadmap-to-reopen).

Online learning begins today, January 5, 2022, and yet the Ontario Government site has not yet been updated with regards to “emergency childcare”.  It remains archived at https://www.ontario.ca/page/child-care-health-care-and-frontline-staff (updated, July 5,  2021).

We tried contacting the government regarding updating their site, but didn’t get a response. They did, however, update and make current which professions are eligible for emergency childcare and that can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200263#BK8

We tried to contact the City of Toronto, to see if they had a link directing users to applications for emergency childcare. Northumberland County had their site updated. They state that, “Northumberland County is offering targeted emergency child care services for school-age children to eligible health care and other frontline workers, starting January 10, 2022”. They include links for applications, but nothing further.

In the City of London, their website states, “At this time, no child care centres have been approved to offer Emergency Child Care in Middlesex County.” (Retrieved from https://middlesex.ca/departments/social-services/emergency-child-care).

This delay in Ontario of setting up free emergency child care services for healthcare and frontline professions is inevitably going to bring about a strain on the already understaffed Ontario healthcare profession.

One Ontario nurse we spoke with summed up the situation well, “It’s honestly just like the nursing crisis: if this was a “male dominant” career, we wouldn’t even be talking about this (child care crisis) because it wouldn’t happen . And if there were more male single fathers and men gave birth, we wouldn’t even have this current child care mess!”

(Note: The City of Toronto did finally reply and had this to say, “A list of approved emergency child care providers will be posted later this week. Please continue to check https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for updates)

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