Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Sandra Roppa and her five-year-old daughter, Selma, in the backyard of their Brampton, Ont. home on April 27, 2021.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

With the number of COVID-19 outbreaks growing in child-care centres across the country, parents are being forced to make hard choices about pulling their children from care as they try to balance the risk of exposure with the demands of work.

“I have never seen such a stressed-out, worried and concerned group of people,” Tanya Szarko, owner of Bow Valley Child Care, said of the parents whose children attend the Calgary centre. It had its first COVID-19 case on Monday, when a staff member tested positive. A second staff member tested positive on Tuesday. A child at the centre tested positive Tuesday evening.

Ms. Szarko decided to close the centre until Monday as a stopgap measure, but many parents had already pulled their children in recent weeks.

Story continues below advertisement

There are currently 42 reported active outbreaks in child-care facilities in Alberta, an alarming spike in cases that is also being seen in child-care centres across the country. After widespread closings during the first wave of the pandemic, daycares have generally remained open, even in provinces where schools have moved online. Only a few provinces have opened up vaccinations to daycare workers despite their increased risk of exposure.

If parents can take their kids out of daycare and have them cared for by someone with less exposure, that is a safer option, said Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto.

Looking at case numbers in daycares isn’t a very helpful way of deciding the risk factors for parents and children, she said.

As of Wednesday, there have been 1,137 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario child-care centres in the past 14 days. That is more than one-fifth of the total number of cases reported in child-care centres since June, 2020.

Summary of cases in licensed child care settings

ReportNumber of
new cases
reported today
Number of cases
reported in
the last 14 days
Number of cases
reported more than
14 days ago
Cumulative total
(total number of
cases reported)
Confirmed cases in child care centres and homes1121,1374,3905,527
Child-care related child cases816622,4733,135
Child-care related staff/provider cases314751,9172,392
Individual(s) not identified0000
Centres closed17132519651
Homes closed962759821

Source: Government of Ontario

But those numbers aren’t very informative for parents, Dr. Hota said.

“It’s more about understanding what’s happening with community transmission in your neighbourhood or where you are sending your child to daycare and where you live, and then understanding the policies of that centre. That’s really what determines the risk,” she said.

Number of centres with confirmed cases and centres closed

ReportNumberTotal number
of open
child care
Current number of centres with a confirmed case4905,2839.28%
Current number of centres closed1325,2832.50%

Source: Government of Ontario

Child-care workers in Alberta are not on the province’s priority list for vaccines. They’ve been similarly left off the priority lists in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Ontario announced on Tuesday that workers at licensed child-care centres will be eligible for vaccines as of Thursday. Other provinces made that move earlier. In B.C., for example, child-care staff were included among the front-line workers eligible for the vaccine from the beginning of April.

Story continues below advertisement

Sandra Roppa and her husband decided that their five-year-old daughter would not return to daycare in Brampton, Ont., following the April break. Cases of COVID-19 in the city north of Toronto were on the rise, and a child in the daycare had tested positive with a variant the week before the break.

Ms. Roppa, an engineer who is currently working from home, is able to look after her daughter.

“We thought, we have the opportunity; we can pull back for a few weeks and just monitor the situation,” she said.

She continues to pay child-care fees while her daughter is out of care, as most parents who decide to temporarily pull their kids are required to do.

Asha Marra, whose five-year-old son attends the same Brampton daycare, is keeping him in care. She and her husband both work in construction and don’t have the option to look after their son at home.

“Naturally, we’re always a little bit worried. We know a lot of people who have been affected by COVID and so there’s always that little bit of fear,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Her son is in a small class of about nine children, and Ms. Marra is comforted to see the staff taking the utmost precautions.

The uncertainty of what lies ahead is keeping child-care workers on edge, said Kim Yeaman, the owner and director of a child-care company in Innisfil, Ont. She had to close one room at her centre three weeks ago because a child who was asymptomatic tested positive.

“We think, ‘Yeah, we’ve only had two cases.’ But have we?” Ms. Yeaman said. “The staff are terrified.”

Many parents of children in care at the centre are essential workers, which adds to the stress daycare employees are under, she said.

“We’re taking care of the people’s children who are completely exposed to this every day and we’re taking care of their children who are not wearing masks.”

The stress everyone is feeling has begun to sometimes cause conflict between parents and staff at Building Blocks Nursery School, said Joanne Freer, co-owner of the Brampton company.

Story continues below advertisement

Every day, each child is screened for a list of symptoms, including cough and runny nose. Sometimes, parents who need to get to work and can’t take a day off will plead that it’s not COVID-19, it’s just the sniffles, Ms. Freer said.

But, for the most part, parents have been understanding of the school’s screening protocols and requirements, she said.

Linda Delany, acting director of the East Toronto Village Children’s Centre, has begun checking in with staff members each week to assess their stress and mental health.

“We have a lot of staff here who, especially with the new variants, they’re starting to get scared,” she said.

Ms. Delany welcomed news that child-care workers in Ontario will be eligible to be vaccinated as of Thursday. But, she added that they should have been prioritized from the start of the rollout and now must be vaccinated as soon as possible for everyone’s benefit.

“We are definitely essential,” she said. “It should be a high priority.”

Story continues below advertisement

Health columnist André Picard outlines how kids could be back in classrooms in the fall, starting with getting all adults vaccinated by Canada Day, followed by a program of vaccinating children with an approved reduced dose ahead of school resuming in September. The Globe and Mail

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies