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Ontario expands free daycare in advance of elementary school lockdown extension

Ontario expands free daycare in advance of elementary school lockdown extension

With Friday’s announcement that the lockdown of elementary schools has been extended for two more weeks, parents with primary school-aged children are scrambling to make child care arrangements. At a new conference Saturday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that free day care will be expanded to include a wider range of essential workers. The list of those eligible includes:

  • Front line staff at CAS’s and residential services
  • Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services and anti human trafficking
  • Individuals working in victim’s services
  • Individuals working in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deal or blind
  • Food safety inspectors and individuals working in the processing, manufacturing or distribution of food and beverages
  • Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons
  • Provincial Court services personnel incl
  • OPS staff employed in Radiation Protection Services
  • RCMP and Canada Border Services
  • Pharma and Medical devoice manufacturing and distribution
  • Power workers
  • Non-municipal water and wastewater workers
  • Education staff who are required to attend schools to provide in-person instruction and support to students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning
  • Employees of a hotel or motel that is acting as an isolation centre, healthcare centre, vaccine clinic or housing essential workers.

Lecce says the current free daycare program has been taken up by about 2200 workers, but the expansion of the program will allow as many as 28,000 to participate. The subsidy covers the additional two weeks of isolation that have been added to the elementary school calendar. Lecce told reporters the extension of the lockdown came as a result of alarming numbers that came out in the last days of December that showed a 117 percent increase in spread of COVID in the schools. He said just prior to that, eight out of ten schools in Ontario were COVID free. Lecce acknowledged that these last-minute changes are disruptive to families, saying, “Certainty is something everyone wants…the decision we make are often based on data we receive the day before an announcement.”

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