The Toronto Star seems to have declared its day care exposé – two years in the making and involving one of its top investigative reporters, Dale Brazao – er, over, after just one page A1 story. From my free copy of today’s Star:
The wall of secrecy surrounding abuses in daycares has tumbled less than 24 hours after a Star investigation documented troubling problems in centres across Ontario.
Parents concerned about the quality of care their children are receiving in licensed centres will soon be able to visit a ministry website listing serious incidents and inspection findings.
Mary Anne Chambers, Minister of Children and Youth Services, said yesterday her ministry will launch the website by the fall. Chambers is also considering a stronger colour-coding system in which a red licence posted at a daycare would indicate a serious problem.
Wow. They’re promising a website. And they’ll think about a colour-coded system! Well, that’s that, then. Move along, folks, nothing to see here. Because Dalton McGuinty keeps all his promises, right? And never mind this, from Monday’s story:
Children in provincially licensed daycares have been hit, kicked, allowed to play in filthy conditions and fed allergy-triggering food that nearly claimed their lives.
A Star investigation based on thousands of never-before-released daycare incidents and inspection reports has uncovered a myriad of serious problems including children wandering off unattended, being forcibly confined in closets and storage rooms as punishment, and served meals prepared in mice-infested kitchens.
But even in the most egregious cases, the provincial Ministry of Children and Youth Services is often slow to act.
Daycares with a pattern of problems are allowed to operate for months or even years on provisional licences, while children are exposed to substandard conditions, internal government documents show.
"The conditions you highlight are unacceptable and we take it seriously," said ministry spokesperson Tricia Edgar.
"It is a concern. We're going to be looking at this. I can give you our assurance that we will do that. It isn't consistent with the health and well being of kids."
The records are typically kept secret. Parents who trust their children with a licensed daycare have no way of finding out if their daycare is exemplary or riddled with problems.
The Star obtained the records – which relate to the last three years – following a series of freedom of information requests that took more than two years.
I’m guessing that Ontario opposition leaders John Tory and Howard Hampton are feeling just as burned as the Star’s reporters, Brazao and Robert Cribb.
*Gherson is the former editor-in-chief of the Star, who since April 2nd has been toiling for Premier Pinocchio, as deputy minister and associate secretary of communications in the cabinet office.