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Parents launch $3.5-million lawsuit over daughter’s death at Ontario daycare

The death of a two-year-old girl at an overcrowded home daycare north of Toronto was preventable and due to negligence, her devastated family is alleging in a lawsuit.

Eva Ravikovich was an "absolutely healthy" and happy little girl when the daycare operator picked her up that morning, the girl's mother said.

Now, Eva's parents are grieving the loss of their "absolutely amazing kid," who they say smiled constantly, even after a little scolding.

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"It's like now I have a feeling that I have nothing to live for," said Eva's mother, Ekaterina Evtropova, 26.

"You know Groundhog Day, where you wake up every morning and then you wake up to the same thing again, like, you don't have her...I would not wish that to worst enemy of mine to go through what I'm going through right now."

The $3.5-million lawsuit, against the owners and operators of the unlicensed daycare and the Ministry of Education, does not reveal what the family alleges happened inside the daycare, but alludes to an "incident."

The coroner's office has told the family the death was preventable, said family lawyer Patrick Brown.

Unlicensed daycare providers can legally care for no more than five children under the age of 10 — in addition to their own children — but there were reports that there were far more kids at the daycare when the coroner arrived.

In addition to overcrowding, the family alleges that the daycare providers failed to ensure food and drink was properly stored in order to prevent contamination, failed to properly supervise the children, and failed to respond properly to an emergency situation.

"As a result of the negligence of the defendants, Eva suffered serious injuries and died," the family alleges in its statement of claim.

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"Before Eva died she sustained pain and suffering, a loss of enjoyment of life and a loss of amenities from the time of the incident until her death."

A statement of claim was issued against the daycare, while a notice of an impending statement of claim was issued against the ministry, as 60 days' notice must be given before suing the government.

Ministry of Education officials have admitted that they failed to follow up on two of three previous complaints lodged against the Vaughan daycare. Two ministry employees were suspended.

The ministry reviewed daycare complaints in the wake of Eva's death and found that nine complaints about unlicensed daycares went unanswered last year.

They were among 280 complaints the ministry received, which are supposed to be followed up with a visit to the daycare within five business days. Ministry staff investigated all the unaddressed complaints last month and confirmed that all the daycares complied with provincial laws.

The ministry is also investigating the Vaughan daycare to determine whether there are grounds to lay charges under the Day Nurseries Act, which carries stiff penalties.

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Ombudsman André Marin has launched an investigation into whether the government is doing enough to protect children in unlicensed daycares.

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