Nova Scotia

Daycare worker fired after voicing safety concerns

A former daycare worker in Dartmouth, N.S., says she was fired for reporting what she considered safety concerns at her workplace to the Department of Community Services.

A former daycare worker in Dartmouth, N.S., says she was fired for reporting what she considered safety concerns at her workplace to the Department of Community Services.

Shannon Lewis said she lost her job on Wednesday shortly after a toddler in her care took a fall at the Kids & Company daycare on Portland Hills Drive.

"Yesterday was the most horrific thing that I've ever experienced at a daycare with a child," Lewis told CBC News on Thursday.

She said she had been helping 13 toddlers down the stairs at the time.

"The little boy had turned around and had stood up and was on the edge," Lewis said.

"I tried to catch him. He fell down five stairs straight … straight down and then slid on the last two, so in total, seven stairs."

Lewis said she thought the toddler should go to the hospital and was upset when that didn't happen.

Officials with the daycare said proper procedure was followed and the boy's mother was contacted.

"We leave it up to the parent if they want to seek medical treatment or not," said Dorothy DeVouge-Morphy, the area director for Kids and Company.

"In this case, after talking to her, we reassured her that from our point he seemed okay and we went from there and she decided to leave him in our care for the afternoon."

Lewis called the Department of Community Services on her lunch break to express her feelings about the dangers of taking so many toddlers down high stairs.

"It's too much. Too many children's lives are being put at, 'It's okay, nothing will happen' and it's not okay," she said.

Although Lewis lost her job at the end of the work day, DeVouge-Morphy said the reason had nothing to do with Wednesday's incident.

"We had a disgruntled employee," she said.

"The incident yesterday had no bearing on that decision. That decision had been made previously."

The child who fell down the stairs was back at the daycare on Thursday.

"To me, having a child here after an incident, to me that's a sign that the parents trust what we're doing and they trust our abilities," said DeVouge-Morphy.

Shelley Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community Services, confirmed there had been a complaint about the Kids and Company location in Dartmouth but did not provide more details.

"It's under investigation and follow up is underway," Thompson told CBC News.

In addition to that complaint, the department has also received six other complaints about the company this year, said Thompson.

The Halifax location of Kids & Company was investigated last year after a two-year-old boy was briefly left behind during a morning outing to Fort Needham Memorial Park.

Lewis has filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Board.

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