Complaints about unlicensed B.C. daycares to be posted online
Living up to a commitment made to CTV News last August, the B.C. government wants to start publishing complaints about unlicensed daycares online as soon as this Fall to help parents better decide who they want looking after their children.
Under proposed changes to the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, inspection reports and substantiated complaints about unlicensed daycare providers would be accessible online for a minimum of five years.
Currently, parents only have access to reports about licensed daycare facilities, and those are limited to routine inspections or follow up visits.
“It is absolutely required. It absolutely brings more transparency,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix, who introduced the bill in Victoria on Tuesday.
The announcement comes more than a year after the death of Macallan Wayne Saini, or "Baby Mac," the 16-month-old who died at an unlicensed daycare in East Vancouver. The Crown is considering whether to lay charges against the operator.
"For everyone who heard the story of that case, the need for reform, the need for transparency was profound," Dix said.
As CTV News reported in August 2017, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request revealed the daycare's operator had been investigated four times at four different addresses in the seven years prior to Baby Mac’s death.
In three instances, licensing officers determined she had broken the law by having too many children in her care.
Baby Mac’s parents, Chris Saini and Shelley Sheppard, both said they never would have placed their toddler with that particular provider if they’d had easier access to information about her history.
“I’m just so mad,” Saini told CTV in August. “I’m just so mad that the government, the system failed us. They failed my son.”
Newly appointed Minister of Childcare and Family Development Katrina Conroy called what appeared to be a lack of transparency and lack of enforcement “unacceptable,” and promised to make unlicensed daycare records easily accessible to all parents, as Ontario has done since 2015.
“The bottom line is we want to make sure child care is safe in this province,” Conroy said Tuesday.
“This was long overdue,” Baby Mac’s father, Chris Saini, posted online. “Love never dies.”
If the bill becomes law, it would require local health authorities like Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health to publish summaries of inspections and substantiated complaints online, and include operators’ names, business names and addresses.
The changes would not be retroactive.
And Pam Preston, the Executive Director of Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre, which helps parents navigate their way through child care options, said she had some concerns about how the system will work:
“Is the information going to be impactful?” Preston asked. “Is it going to be generic summaries or will it be detailed information? Sometimes it’s not enough detail, so people get more nervous.”
Preston also pointed out that any inspections of unlicensed providers will still be complaint-driven, and expressed concern daycare operators who move or change names could slip through the cracks.
The Health Ministry says there will be no overarching database and recommended that “parents check more than one [system] at this time.”
The proposed changes would also apply to unlicensed seniors' homes, which would also have their inspection reports and complaint information published online for five years.
In addition, the province has given the Ministry of Health a $2.09-million funding boost to increase the number of licensing officers inspecting care homes and child care facilities.
“We have to ensure that that law’s enforced,” Dix said. “We’ve seen in recent times that there are serious consequences when that doesn’t happen.”