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Erin Girouard, seen here on June 10, 2020, would love to put Finley, left, back in daycare.

Kamara Morozuk/The Globe and Mail

A child-care company based in Hamilton says it will likely have to hold a lottery to determine which of its client families are given a spot for their children after a survey found 70 per cent of families want to put their kids back in care.

Under new guidelines released by the Ontario government on Tuesday, child-care operators must limit children and staff to groups of 10 or fewer. That means many parents who want child care may not be able to get it for their children.

“If you can only serve 50 per cent but yet 70 per cent are saying yes, you have a 20-per-cent problem, don’t you?” says Marni Flaherty, chief executive officer of Hamilton-based Today’s Family Early Learning and Child Care, which operates 27 child-care sites and more than 100 homes that do licensed child care, serving anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 children.

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As child-care centres prepare to reopen across Ontario, parents are debating whether to put their children into daycare. After looking after their children all day through the pandemic, many say they need a break. Others say the potential health risks are too worrisome.

Bob Hilbig and his wife are eagerly looking for a child-care spot for their 15-month-old son.

“He gets next to no social time with other kids, and we’re really looking forward to that,” says Mr. Hilbig, who lives in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto.

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Plus, they could both use a break from the past few months, during which time Mr. Hilbig, who works in video game development, has been at home looking after his son every day. “Both me and him are going stir crazy,” he says.

Chris Wigle is keeping his two children, an 11-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, out of daycare until at least September, he says.

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His son will likely touch his face after touching multiple surfaces at a child-care centre, and neither of his children would likely abide by physical-distancing recommendations once they are with their friends, he says.

“They’re going to want to give each other hugs, high-fives, all that stuff,” says Mr. Wigle, who works for an engineering firm in Windsor, Ont.

After all these months of running her business from home while looking after her three-year-old daughter, Finley, and caring for her newborn son, Erin Girouard would love to put Finley back in daycare.

“For my mental health and well being it really would be for the best to get her a spot somewhere,” says Ms. Girouard from her home in Ottawa, where she works as the program co-ordinator for Mommy Connections, an organization that connects new mothers to parenting resources in the city. But the home daycare Finley was attending won’t open until September. Transitioning to a new daycare would likely cause separation anxiety, Ms. Girouard says.

“If I thought it was in the best interest of my daughter I would send her back in a heartbeat,” she says.

The decision to send her three-year-old daughter back to daycare when it reopens next week was not an easy one, says Lindsey Correia, who lives in Kingston.

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“It’s nerve-racking, of course,” she says.

But she is confident the child-care centre will strictly follow all health and safety measures to keep her daughter safe, she says. “Life has to go on,” Ms. Correia says.

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