Ontario parents can now look up inspection reports for daycare centres online.
The Ministry of Education is expanding its Licensed Child Care website to include up to three years of inspections for centres and home-based daycares.
"We believe this is important information for families to have when chosing where they may want to investigate having their children go," said Leona Dombrosky, Minister of Education, on Monday.
Parents can look up centres by their community name or postal code, by the age group of the children, or the name of the operator.
The inspection reports only apply to licensed centres and home-based daycares with greater than five children under the age of 10.
The reports show whether there are enough staff and proper supervision at the centre. It will show whether a daycare stores medication and food properly. The centres are also judged on cleanliness and the safety of any equipment or furnishings and whether the centres conduct monthly fire drills.
Parents can drill down into the report to see what areas of the inspection checklist with which a daycare didn't comply. Dombrowsky said it's still up to families to ask questions if they see something on a report that they don't like.
The ministry said if there are serious problems at a daycare, it might be shut down, or it might only receive a provisional licence, meaning it would have to fix the problem in a 15 to 30 day window or risk having its license pulled.
Provisional licenses have to be posted publically at the daycare, but are not visible in the online reports.
The NDP however, said the website should also include information about "serious" incidents such as abuse, mistreatment, injuries and deaths at daycare centres.
NDP critic Michael Prue says there is no real reason to exclude those incidents since it's important for parents to know whether their children are safe. He adds the province could write legislation in such a way that gets around any legal concerns and protects people's privacy.
Child and Youth Services still doing inspections
The Ministry of Education took over responsibility for daycares in February but inspectors from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services are the ones completing the inspection reports, said ministry officials.
The unscheduled inspections are completed once a year unless a complaint has been lodged against a daycare. Licensed child care centres were already required to display a hard copy of the reports in a public area for parents to see.
The website will be updated as inspections continue, and retroactive reports will not be posted, said Dombrowsky.
There are 5,000 licensed day care facilities in Ontario.