The Ontario government announced it is providing eligible health-care and other front-line workers with free emergency child care for elementary school-aged children starting April 19 amid surging COVID-19 cases.
The announcement comes amid extended school closures as elementary and secondary students wrap up the April break week. Students will move to remote learning starting Monday, indefinitely.
The government said the emergency child care will be provided at “no cost” during the remote learning period.
Officials also said the service is intended for workers with school-aged children who cannot work from home and perform “critical duties in the province’s fight against COVID-19.”
The province said those parents who are eligible should contact their local service system manager for information on availability, program locations and registration.
As of Thursday, data shows there are 479 child-care centres out of 5,283 with a confirmed case of COVID-19, about nine per cent. There were 96 new cases Thursday among centres, 65 child cases and 31 staff cases.
“Our government is once again stepping up to provide health care and other frontline workers with access to emergency child care as they continue to work around the clock in our fight against COVID-19,” said Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce.
“Doing so will allow these frontline workers to perform their duties knowing that their children are safe and in good hands.”
Ontario reported a record-breaking 4,736 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 29 more virus-related deaths. Hospitalizations and patients in intensive care units battling the virus continue to soar.
The government provided this list of those eligible for free emergency child care:
- Health care workers, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, health care providers and those who work in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as individuals who manufacture or distribute medical/pharmaceutical supplies.
- Individuals performing work in relation to the administration, distribution or manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines.
- Child care workers, including those staffing the emergency child care programs.
- Grocery store and pharmacy workers.
- Public safety (police, fire, paramedics, provincial inspection/enforcement), justice/court and correctional system workers.
- Frontline staff in Children’s Aid Societies and residential services.
- Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services, victims’ services, anti-human trafficking and those engaged in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind.
- Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons.
- Food safety inspectors and individuals working in the processing, manufacturing or distribution of food and beverages.
- OPS staff employed in Radiation Protection Services.
- OPS staff performing critical tasks related to environmental monitoring, reporting and laboratory services.
- Certain federal employees, including RCMP, Canada Border Services, Canadian Armed Forces and Canada Post.
- Power workers.
- Non-municipal water and wastewater workers.
- Workers involved in the collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
- 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, health care centre, vaccine clinic or housing essential workers.
- Truck drivers and transit workers.
- Construction workers.
- Any individual whose child was registered in an emergency child care program delivered by a Consolidated Municipal Service Manager or District Social Service Administration Board during the time period beginning on April 6, 2021 and ending on April 16, 2021.
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