British Columbia

Operator of daycare where Baby Mac died violated regulations for years, VCH documents reveal

The parents of a 15-month-old toddler who died at a Vancouver daycare in January wants answers after learning their son’s unlicensed daycare centre was on Vancouver Coastal Health's radar for years before his death.

Records show the operator was warned 3 times about overcrowding but never fined

Fifteen-month-old Macallan Wayne Saini, seen here with his family, died on Jan. 19, 2017 in East Vancouver. (John Sheppard)

The parents of a 15-month-old toddler who died at a Vancouver daycare in January wants answers after learning their son's unlicensed daycare centre was on Vancouver Coastal Health's radar for years before his death.

Documents obtained from VCH show that the health authority had on multiple occasions investigated the daycare provider who operated the location where Macallan Saini, known as "Baby Mac," died. Three times, VCH found that the operator had previously violated regulations by caring for too many children at a time at other locations, but it was never fined.

"It was extremely heartbreaking for us and shocking to just know that there were so many complaints out there about [the operator] and [the] daycare," Shelley Sheppard, Baby Mac's mother, told On The Coast guest host Tanya Fletcher.

"There was constant overcrowding."

Under B.C.'s Community Care and Assisted Living Act, unlicensed childcare operators are only allowed to care for two children at a time and can be fined up to $10,000 a day for violations.

VCH issued a number of warnings to the operator of Baby Mac's daycare over the years, but no enforcement was taken nor were any fines levied.

False advertising​

The daycare had been advertising itself as a licensed centre on a brochure when it was still unlicensed. Sheppard said she felt complete shock when she found out the truth.

"Why would [the operator] think that would be OK to do?" she said. "These are the most special people in our lives, and we deserve to have them with people that we can trust and know are being honest and following the rules. The fact that [the operator] was doing that was mind-blowing to us."

Shelley Sheppard, Baby Mac’s mother, says she did all the checks she could on her son's daycare, but the information she needed was not readily accessible. (Shelly Sheppard)

No easy checks

Sheppard said she had done all the checks she could on the daycare before taking her son there, but the records showing overcrowding violations and false advertising complaints were not easy to come by.

"These kind of reports, they are not easily accessible," Sheppard said. "These reports took four or five months to get after a freedom of information request was put through."

VCH confirmed that there is nowhere for parents to look up unlicensed daycares or view previous complaints.

"I think there needs to be more information available," Sheppard  said. "It needs to be timely, available and accessible. It needs to be out there, so we can know who is around our children."

VCH declined an interview but issued a statement saying the Baby Mac tragedy is causing them to review how they handle repeat non-compliance situations.

To listen to the full interview with Baby Mac's mother, click on the audio link below. 

With files from On The Coast and Bridgette Watson.