Sudbury·Audio

Daycare centres in northeastern Ontario slowly easing into re-opening

Child care centres in northern Ontario are allowed to be open now — but many of them aren't, as operators are still figuring out the rules for running a daycare during a pandemic.

It's not yet clear what daycare will look like in phase 2 of Ontario's re-opening

Nursery children playing with teacher in the classroom; Shutterstock ID 1240454104 (Shutterstock)

Child care centres in northern Ontario are allowed to be open now — but many of them aren't, as operators are still figuring out the rules for running a daycare during a pandemic.

The CEO for the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario says they aren't sure how many kids they'll be able to welcome back, how many kids will want to come back, and how much staff they'll find to look after them. 

"So it may balance out. That's kind of a little bit of what we'll have to see when reality kicks in," Helen Francis said.

The operation has 26 daycare locations in Sudbury and North Bay.

Francis said, so far, the YMCA's plan is to re-open its North Bay daycare centres on June 29th. But she noted the Sudbury locations might not open until July.

Over at Friends Forever Child Care, with locations in North Bay and Timmins, things seem to be running smoothly.

"It just kind of worked out for the families that needed care we had space for," said owner Melanie Ross.

"We never had to say 'no' to a family. We had to come up with a couple of policies and procedures, but we haven't had to use them."

But some day care centres are wondering how many staff will want to return — and how many they can afford to pay.

The executive director of Walden Daycare in Lively said every child care centre is now relying on government aid. 

"There's no possible chance that we could ever stay afloat without it," Mary-Lou Coffey said.

"Certainly there is financial support from the province and the city and that's great, but those are not sustainable numbers going forward."

The provincial government has given the green light, but most daycare centres in northern Ontario have not yet opened their doors. They're still figuring out how to keep kids apart and whether there'll be enough kids to balance the books. We heard more from two daycare centre operators in the northeast. 11:49

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