British Columbia

Baby Mac's parents allege negligence in lawsuit filed over their son's death at a Vancouver daycare

The court documents describe the moment Baby Mac's mother found her son's body. The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of the daycare operator and accuses the ministry and the health authority of failing in their duty to protect him.

Court documents name the daycare operator, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Ministry of Children and Families

Sixteen-month-old Macallan Wayne Saini, seen here with his family, died on Jan. 18, 2017 at a daycare in East Vancouver. (John Sheppard)

The mother of a child known as Baby Mac has described in agonizing detail, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the moment she found her son's lifeless body.

Macallan Wayne Saini died on Jan. 18, 2017 at the unlicensed Olive Branch Daycare in Vancouver.

According to the notice of civil claim, Shelley Sheppard says she followed a firefighter into the home and up the stairs where she witnessed her 16-month-old lying on the floor.

"He had a 'grey' pallor and it was evident to her that he was deceased," the lawsuit says.

"The plaintiff observed [the daycare operator] yelling and screaming and attempting to resuscitate Mac Saini in a perfunctory way."

The lawsuit against the daycare operator and the owners of the home where the facility was run alleges negligence.

It also makes a charter claim against the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, alleging the organizations failed in their duty to protect him.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. A statement of defence has not yet been filed by any of the respondents.

The coroner is still investigating the death. A report has also been forwarded by police to the Crown and the file remains open. (Shelley Sheppard)

VCHA records show the facility's operator, Yasmine Saad, had three previous regulation violations related to caring for too many kids.

Under B.C.'s Community Care and Assisted Living Act, unlicensed childcare operators may only care for two kids at a time and can be fined up to $10,000 a day for violations. Several warnings were issued to the operator over the years, but no enforcement was taken, nor were any fines levied.

According to the documents, when Sheppard arrived the day of her son's death "she saw the daycare was overcrowded with children and that the [operator] had hidden one child behind a couch and other children were strapped to chairs."

The coroner is still investigating but in the documents Sheppard says she "understands that Mac Saini had been left unattended and had choked on an electrical cord causing his death."

"Since Mac's death last year, we have been trying to find a way to live with this nightmare while struggling to accept that he isn't coming back," Sheppard told the CBC.

Parents Shelley Sheppard and Chris Saini say they still struggle to accept that their son is not coming back. (Shelley Sheppard)

Violation of Baby Mac's Charter of Rights

The lawsuit claims Baby Mac's charter rights to life and security were violated. It says the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Ministry of Children and Family Development failed to protect him.

The documents allege Baby Mac's death could have been prevented had the health authority and the ministry followed reasonable policies and procedures to monitor unlicensed daycare facilities when complaints were made.

"If the court concludes damages are a just and appropriate remedy, then, to my knowledge, this would be the first case where a court would consider quantifying the death of a Canadian citizen because of an alleged charter breach," said the family's lawyer John Rice.

Both the health authority and the ministry say they cannot comment on the case as it is before the courts. Each sends condolences to the family.

"We still wake up looking for him."

Baby Mac's parents have struggled to come to terms with their son's death.

"We still wake up looking for him and even continue to make plans for our family ... before we remember that he is gone," said Sheppard.

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