Daycares are opening and parents are holding their breath

As a parent with a child in daycare, I am sure I was not the only one watching Minister Stephen Lecce’s announcement this week with baited anticipation. As the province moves into this new staged opening process, a lot of questions are being asked.

First and foremost on every parent’s mind is, will my child be safe going back to their daycare? It’s an understandable notion, considering the state of the provinces long term care facilities has been front and centre in the news for the past few months. The overlap in design and purpose between our privately run daycares and long term care homes is painfully obvious. While thankfully there hasn’t been any outbreaks or crises in our provinces daycares, the news about long term care homes has given many parents cause for closer scrutiny.

The confidence for parents to send their children back into daycares is missing in this latest push from Min. Lecce and the Ford government. According to the front page of The Toronto Star, the industry wasn’t consulted on how best to facilitate this reopening. Which seems, more and more to be the modus operandi of this government when it comes to reopening the provincial economy. Simply decree, this industry is now reopening under restrictions to it’s business model and then leave others to fill in the details. In practical terms, its the equivalent of saying we want to go from point A to point D, with no clue about how to get to B and C in between.

For a government that prior to the pandemic, had prided itself on being pro business, I am astounded at how close minded it is to the needs of small businesses right now. Parents are rightfully concerned about their child’s safety. Our children are more precious to us than an economic reopening right now. And yet we are being told to place them back into an industry that itself doesn’t have the confidence to ensure their safety right now. The restrictive measures placed on daycare facilities right now, adds to a question of sustainability for the industry over the long term. As they are a profit driven enterprise, their business model relies on maintaining full capacity attendance collecting fees from parents on a monthly basis. Reopening now to a third that population leaves much uncertainty if they will be able to maintain keeping their doors open in the long term. Should a COVID-19 outbreak happen in a daycare, it could lead to a panic across the province, much akin to the panic we have now with our long term care homes.

The Ford government is bungling the reopening of our economy. That is becoming abundantly clear now. There is no comprehensive strategy or goals of reopening the province. Rather its a haphazard leap from industry to industry, business to business to decide if they get to reopen and under what protocols. The team advising the government is shrouded in secrecy as is the advice they are providing to Ford. His claims to want to provide transparency and information the people during this pandemic, appear to be nothing but words. We need more than key messaging and 30 second sound bites right now. We need real leadership.

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