An emergency child-care program offered to some groups of essential workers during the first week of January amid school closures has been expanded yet again to include Ontario construction and transit workers.
The announcement was made on Sunday in a news release days after the government delayed the return to in-person learning in three COVID-19 hot spots.
In the statement, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that as of Tuesday, construction workers permitted to continue operations during the lockdown, as well as transit workers unable to work remotely, will be added to the list of those eligible for the emergency program.
The emergency child-care program is meant to provide front-line workers and their families with no-cost child care options while schools were closed to in-person learning. Once schools reopen, regular before-and-after-school child-care programs will resume.
While schools in most of southern Ontario will resume in-person learning on Feb. 8, the government has said that classrooms in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region will remain closed for an additional week and will open after the Family Day long weekend.
These three regions have struggled the most in containing the spread of COVID-19 and make up the majority of the new cases reported every day.
“While students in many parts of the province are returning or have returned to in-person learning, students in Toronto, York Region and Peel will be returning to class one week later, on February 16, 2021. During this period of remote learning, our government is supporting these key workers by ensuring their children are well cared for,” Lecce said in a statement.
“We are all in this together, and as our fight against COVID-19 continues, our government has proven time and again that we will step up and demonstrate to frontline workers that we have their backs."
On Sunday, there were 517 new COVID-19 infections in Toronto, 261 in Peel Region and 121 in York Region.
The Ontario government’s list of front-line workers eligible for the emergency child-care program has been expanded three times since it was originally created at the beginning of January.
No reasoning has been provided by officials as to why these workers were not included in the original list.