Listeria found in Toronto daycare where child died

A private daycare north of Toronto where a two-year-old girl died in July had listeria, a potentially deadly food bacteria, in food stored in the kitchen, according to an inspector’s report.
Two-year-old Eva Ravikovich died at this daycare in Vaughan in July. The coroner is investigating her death. (CBC)

Food in the kitchen of a private daycare north of Toronto where a two-year-old girl died in July tested positive for the potentially deadly food bacteria listeria, according to an inspector’s report.

The York Region Public Health inspection also found expired food in the refrigerator and freezer and other sanitation problems at the daycare located at 343 Yellowood Circle where two year old Eva Ravikovich died on July 8.

A day after Ravikovich’s death, inspectors arrived to find inadequate dishwashing capacity, unsanitized toys and improperly stored food.

Inspectors also collected food samples from the daycare. Tests later confirmed the presence of listeria in a chicken and potato stew, along with “unknown cooked grain product and deli meats.” 

The daycare was shut down on July 9 for infractions under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

A coroner’s report into Ravikovich’s death has not been released. The cause of her death remains unknown.

One childcare advocate told CBC News today that the inspection report highlights the need for all home daycares to be licensed.   

“This isn’t an environment that anyone would want their children to be in,” said Andrea Calver of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, whose organization acquired the report though a freedom of information request and shared it with CBC.

The daycare was operating out of two adjacent houses at 343 and 345 Yellowood Circle in Vaughan, about 25 kilometres north of downtown Toronto.

Provincial law limits to five the number of children under 10 years old allowed at private daycares who are not related to the daycare's operator.

York Region's community and health services department confirmed there are 35 children registered at the Vaughan daycare.

York Regional Police are investigating Ravikovich's death. Ontario's education ministry, which oversees daycares, is also investigating.

Ravikovich's parents have also launched a $3.5 million civil suit against the daycare's operators and the education ministry.

Education Minister Liz Sandals said in July that officials received three complaints in late 2012 about the number of children being monitored at the Vaughan facility.

Ministry officials only followed up on one of the complaints with a site inspection, Sandals said, calling the lack of action "unacceptable."

Calver said the province's failure to act decisively on previous complaints puts children at risk.

“This report is an indictment of the provincial government for ignoring the warnings in this case but also for simply not addressing the risk that we put to children who are in unlicensed and illegal child care centres today,” she said.

Don Giesbrecht, chief executive of Canadian Child Care Federation, said that while many unlicensed private daycares fill a need for working parents, there is little government oversight into how they operate.

Giesbrecht also said the demand for daycare spaces in Canada far outstrips supply. He added there are 900,000 licensed childcare spaces in Canada but three million children with parents in the workforce.


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