children playing

Few restrictions for Ontario's unlicensed home daycares

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Monsebraaten, Laurie
Publication Date: 
2 Dec 2013



Ontario has one of the most hands-off attitudes in the country when it comes to unregulated home child care.

There is no hard cap on the number or ages of children allowed in unregulated Ontario homes because the maximum (five under age 10) doesn't include the caregiver's own kids.

It means a home daycare provider with three young children of her own theoretically could be looking after as many as six babies, a toddler and a preschooler.

It's a handful for someone who isn't connected to any formal outside supports, as is the case with regulated caregivers in Ontario.

From a parent's perspective, no government authority is checking to see that the home and yard are safe for children. Nor is the caregiver required to have a police check or any first aid, food handling, or early childhood education training.

Across Canada, most provinces include the caregiver's own children in the number of kids permitted in an unregulated home daycare. And mindful of the demands babies can put on a caregiver, many provinces set age limits. For example, in New Brunswick an unregulated home caregiver can have five children under age 12, but no more than two infants. In Newfoundland, the maximum is four children under age 13, but only three are allowed if all the kids are under age 2.

There are no such age restrictions in Ontario.

Outside Ontario, only Alberta, British Columbia and Yukon exclude a caregiver's children in the maximum number of kids allowed. But in B.C., the limit is just two children in addition to the caregiver's own kids and in Yukon the maximum is three.

Alberta allows six children, in addition to the caregiver's own kids, but stipulates that only three of those children can be under age 2.

Saskatchewan permits unregulated home daycare providers to care for up to eight children under age 13, but only five can be under age 6 and of those, only two can be younger than 30 months.

Most other provinces set the limit at between four and six children, including the caregiver's own kids.

Almost everywhere in Canada, a regulated home child-care provider can look after more children under certain circumstances than an unregulated operator.

Only in Ontario do unregulated caregivers get more latitude.


- reprinted from the Toronto Star