Daycare deaths and injuries in Canada

Unlicensed daycares in Canada are subject to few rules other than a maximum number of children in the home, which varies from province to province. There have been several injuries, deaths and other abuses in unlicensed daycares across the country.

Some have resulted in criminal charges, others remain under investigation

Eva Ravikovich, 2, was found dead at an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan, north of Toronto, on July 8, 2013.

The rules surrounding daycares in Canada vary from province to province. Generally, licensed daycares are subject to inspections and regulations, but unlicensed daycares, which often operate behind the closed doors of a private home, are not inspected unless a complaint is made.

Unlicensed daycares are subject to few rules other than a maximum number of children in the home. There have been several injuries, deaths and other abuses in unlicensed daycares across the country. 


Jennifer van Rantwyk and Danny Carroll, parents of four year-old girl who was the victim of a sex crime at her daycare, spoke out this year. (Radio-Canada)

In May, the parents of a four-year-old girl who was sexually abused by a 13-year-old visitor at a daycare on Montreal's West Island spoke out, criticizing the provincial government's response. The teen pleaded guilty to charges of gross indecency and new safety measures were put in place, but the daycare remains open. The regional co-co-ordinator refused to shut the daycare down. 

In Quebec, home daycares are subsidized, but they are not subject to the same rules as licensed daycares, and complaints and inspection reports are not made public.


Eva Ravikovich died at a unlicensed daycare three years ago. (Facebook)

Eva Ravikovich died in an unlicensed daycare in Vaughan in 2013. After her death, Ministry of Education officials searched the home and found 29 children and 14 dogs. The maximum number permitted in an unlicensed daycare in Ontario is five children under the age of 10.

She was one of four Ontario children who died in unlicensed daycares in a seven-month period over 2013 and 2014, prompting a scathing report by the Ontario ombudsman. The cause of her death has not been released. 

In July 2013, two-year-old Allison Tucker drowned at her babysitter's condo in Toronto. The woman was later charged with manslaughter.

Aspen Moore was nine months old when she died in late 2013 at an unlicensed daycare in Markham. Provincial officials, notified by the coroner, found 12 children in the home and later laid charges under the Ontario Day Nurseries Act. 

Four months later, a four-month-old baby died in a Toronto apartment. Provincial officials investigated and found eight children in the home and laid charges later that year. 

Jeremie Audette drowned in 2010 at a home where 31 other children were present. His death prompted a coroner's inquest.

In 2010, a two-year-old named Jeremie Audette drowned when his caregiver, who operated an unlicensed daycare, brought him and several other children to another unlicensed daycare in an Ottawa home with a backyard pool. There were 31 children present at the time along with five adults, a 2012 inquest heard. Wendy Lapierre was charged under the Ontario Day Nurseries Act but continued to operate a home daycare. 

A coroner's inquest jury recommended all daycares, regardless of whether they are licensed, be registered and that unannounced safety inspections of licensed daycares be permitted. The jury also recommended daycare operators be certified as trained.

In 2014, a Kitchener-Waterloo woman pleaded guilty to poisoning two children she was caring for in her home and two other children. She admitted to feeding the children eye drops that caused them to stop breathing. Her lawyer said Christine Allen was a mentally ill drug addict who ran the daycare to help pay for her substance abuse. She was sentenced to six years in prison.

The children, including two babies, survived but were hospitalized, and at least one has developmental problems related to a lack of oxygen flow to her brain. The unlicensed daycare operated from 2009 to 2011, according to police. 

British Columbia

Mackenzy Woolfsmith, 21 months, died under suspicious circumstances in a Calgary daycare in 2012. (Woolfsmith family)

B.C. woman Maria McFerran pleaded guilty in 2013 to criminal negligence causing death in the case of Arto Howley. The one-year-old died in 2011 after he was strangled by the car seat he was left in alone, in a room with a closed door, at a home in CoquitlamMcFerran, who was not licensed, had six other children in her care at the time of the death. She was only legally allowed two. McFerran was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2013.


This Coquitlam home contained an unlicensed daycare where Arto Howley died in 2011. (CBC)

A 21-month-old girl, Mackenzy Woolfsmith, died under suspicious circumstances in a Calgary daycare in 2012. The daycare operator Caitlin Jarosz was charged with second-degree murder in 2013 and is expected to stand trial. 

In April, a Calgary man was charged with sexual interference amid allegations he asked a four-year-old girl to fondle him. His wife was the owner of a day home, which is subject to some provincial standards. 

​A different man was also charged this year amid allegations he fondled a four-year-old boy at a day home. 


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