Does your Child's Day Care meet Ontario Safety Requirements?

Posted by Injury Lawyers of Ontario on July 01, 2016

When we leave our children at a day care facility, whether an unlicensed child care in someone’s home or a large licenced day care centre, we are entrusting someone with the most important undertaking: our children’s safety.  When a day care provider fails to live up to their responsibility of keeping children under their care safe, the outcome can be devastating for a family.

In 2013, Eva Ravidovich, a two year old girl, died in an unlicensed Vaughan home care facility which was later deemed to be filthy and overcrowded.  The home apparently had as many as 35 children signed up for care.  Some of the unsanitary conditions discovered in the home include expired food in the fridge, a bag of diapers in the kitchen, and potentially deadly listeria bacteria.  The family running the home care were subsequently charged with operating an illegal home care business under the Day Nurseries Act of Ontario.  The parents of the diseased toddler are suing the daycare providers as well as the Ministry of Education for $3.5 M.  The Ministry allegedly failed to respond to four complaints about the daycare prior to the child’s tragic death.

In 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Education reported numerous other violations for unlicensed day care providers, particularly with respect to over-crowding which generally results in an increased level of risk of accidents and injury for young children.  Some of the incidents reported to the Ministry in 2013 were as follows:

  • Multiple home care situations where many more young children were being cared for by one adult than would constitute a safe environment, including as many as 14 in one Toronto home.
  • Two preschoolers were left alone in a home, while the female care provider was away picking up eight children and her husband was drinking beer in the driveway.
  • The room where children slept was damp and airless, with a wet floor and soggy bedding.
  • A toddler was unattended, rode a toy car into traffic and was rescued by a motorist.

New Regulations for child care in Ontario

In August 2015, new regulations came into effect in Ontario under the Child Care and Early Years Act. The Act contains rules governing child care in our province, and includes changes to the number of children allowed in home care facilities, particularly of a young age.

The purpose of the Act is to promote safety in child care facilities through regulations, such as a requirement that all supervisors, employees and home care providers have a standard first aid certification, which includes child and infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  Further, all meals and snacks that are provided must meet the recommendations outlined in the Canada Food Guide or First Nations guides, as appropriate.  Facilities are also required to inform parents in writing of any accident or incident that may affect the safety, well-being or health of their child.

Changes to the rules that apply to unlicensed day care facilities are as follows:

  • Unlicensed facilities in a private home may have no more than five children, which includes the care person’s own children under the age of six.
  • There can be no more than two children under the age of two (including the care person’s own children)
  • Parents must be provided with receipts
  • Parents must be allowed access to their child and the property, with possible exceptions associated with custody issues or criminal-related activities

In August 2017, another change will come into effect requiring children aged 10 to 12 to be included in the total number being cared for.

  • Even if there are additional adults helping with child care, an unlicensed home care facility may not care for any more children than the cited maximums.
  • When their own children are away from school due to illness, they do not need to be included in the maximums for unlicensed home care providers.
  • Unlicensed home care providers can only operate in one location.
  • Parents must be informed in writing if a provider is unlicensed by the Government of Ontario.

Not every situation falls under the jurisdiction of the Child Care and Early Years Act. Exempted are: babysitters and nannies, private schools and camps that enroll only children four years and older; and skill-based or academic programs.

Anyone in violation of the rules may be subject to penalties such as fines or convictions.  The Ministry of Education will normally allow the offending party to comply with regulations before issuing a penalty.  The severity of penalties depends on how long the violation took place, the extent of the violation and whether there were previous offences.  For example, a day care facility with more than the allowable number of children may be fined $2000 per child per day

Licenced child care facilities are subject to the following rules:

  • For in-the-home care:
    • a maximum of 6 children under 13,
    • the care worker’s own children must be counted if under 6 years old,
    • no more than 2 children under 2 years old,
    • additional adults have no effect on the maximum number of children,
    • a provider does not need to count their own children who attend full-time Kindergarten except during the summer and only when they care for no more than one child under the age of two.
  • Must provide receipts for services.
  • Must permit full access to their children and the premises to parents.
  • Provide a program statement that is consistent with Ontario’s “How does learning happen?” policy statement under the Ministry of Education.

Licenced child care centres must conform to minimum ratios of adult care workers.

Age grouping

Staff to children ratio

Maximum number of children

Infants (under 18 mths)

     3 -10


Toddlers (18-30 mths)

     1 - 5


Preschool (30 mths to 6 yrs)

     1 - 8


Kindergarten (44 – 68 mths)

     1 - 13


Primary/junior (68 mths - 13 yrs)

     1 - 15



(9 – 13 yrs)

     1 - 20


All staff at licenced facilities, including students and volunteers, must submit to criminal reference checks, which includes vulnerable sector screening to be updated every five years. In every year that vulnerable sector screening is not required, staff must complete an offense declaration.

The dedicated lawyers at Injury Lawyers of Ontario (ILO) support initiatives that promote safe environments for our children at school, in recreational venues and at care providers.  But sometimes the worst happens, despite parent’s and the community's best efforts to keep their children safe.  Serious injury or the death of a child are the most traumatic events that a parent may suffer in their lifetime.  If you experienced the loss of a child or your child was injured due to an unsafe condition or action, call ILO to find out how we can help with any of your legal questions, including your right to seek damages against the negligent party.  

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