Montreal

Quebec City daycare accused of neglect and abuse warned it could lose licence

A Quebec City daycare accused of mistreating children and from which three toddlers escaped last month has received a government warning that it could lose its licence to operate.

Owners of Jardin Enchanté say they were "surprised" to get the notice

The Jardin Enchanté daycare has been criticized by parents who say it has not always ensured the safety of the children in its care. (Marika Wheeler/CBC)

A Quebec City daycare accused of mistreating children and from which three toddlers escaped last month has received a government warning that it could lose its licence to operate.

Quebec's Family Ministry confirmed it gave the owners of Jardin Enchanté, Geneviève Côté and Richard Cazes, a notice of intent to revoke their licence.

"It appears from the ministry's examination of this file that the daycare breached the law several times," ministry spokesperson Bryan St-Louis told Radio-Canada.

In a press release sent to Radio-Canada, the daycare's management said it was "surprised" to receive the notice. 

"Two inspections were done since the month of June and none resulted in breaches being signalled," said Cazes. "This information are available on the ministry's website."

In the statement, Cazes reiterated that many parents and employees continued to support the daycare's management, who, he said, was doing "everything in its power to maintain the highest standards of wellbeing and safety in its facility."

He said the daycare would respond to the ministry within the 10 days they were given to submit their observations.

Once the ministry receives their response, it will evaluate whether it deems it satisfactory. If it doesn't, it will revoke their licence. 

The ministry says its goal is to act in the best interest of children.

"Our priority is to ensure the safety of the children there and that the ministry accompanies the families if the licence is later revoked," the office of Quebec Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe told Radio-Canada in an email. 

The owners of the daycare said they wouldn't be doing any interviews with the media.

Daycare under fire for allegations of neglect

Nicole Sénéchal and Gervais Dumais found two of the toddlers who had escaped from the daycare caught in the mud. (Pascal Poinlane/Radio-Canada)

The daycare made headlines last month after three toddlers bolted out of the facility unnoticed and made their way to a nearby urban highway, before bystanders found them.

The day following the incident, the ministry conducted an inspection of the facility and opened an investigation alongside Quebec's youth protection authority, the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ).

A recent investigation by CBC/Radio-Canada found that the DPJ had also investigated the daycare last spring, after a parent said they witnessed a child being thrown at a wall.

In response to the allegations, Côté, the other co-owner,  said earlier this month she didn't have knowledge of children being hit, but that she could not recall specifics about the DPJ investigation. She noted the employee who had been accused of throwing the child had been fired.

She also said she and her husband had implemented all the recommendations from the DPJ and the Family Ministry at the time.

Based on files from Radio-Canada's David Rémillard and some files from Marika Wheeler

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