About emergency child care

Licensed child care centres were legally required to close on March 17, 2020 when Ontario ordered a declaration of emergency. The Ministry of Education worked with service system managers and First Nations to open select emergency child care centres to support health care and other frontline workers.

As of June, 12, 2020, the government permitted child care centres to reopen throughout the province, under enhanced health and safety protocols. As such, emergency child care has ended.

If you are a parent or guardian interested in accessing child care, contact your child care provider to get more details.

Learn about reopening child care centres.


The following people were eligible for emergency child care:

  • regulated and unregulated health care providers; for example, doctors, nurses, paramedics, personal support workers
  • police officers and members of a police force other than a police officer, as defined in the Police Services Act
  • firefighters and those engaged in providing fire protection services or employed in a fire department, as defined under section 1 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997
  • coroners
  • those working in correctional institutions, including those working in the Institutional Services Division or Community Services Division, and other justice-related settings (as determined by municipalities), including those employed in a place of secure custody or a place of secure temporary detention
  • animal welfare inspectors
  • employees of Compass Group Canada Ltd. who work at or provide services in relation to the Cook Chill Food Production Centre
  • individuals employed in the Direct Operated Facilities Branch of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS)
  • those performing work that is essential to the delivery of core services in their communities, as determined by the municipality or First Nation
  • those working in emergency child care settings
  • staff working in developmental services, victim services, violence against women services, anti-human trafficking services, child welfare services (children's aid societies) and in residential care settings
  • additional staff identified by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, include:
    • First Nations constables
    • Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management fire investigators
    • select critical staff in community corrections such as probation and parole officers
    • contractors in institutional corrections services
    • frontline staff at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit
    • critical staff at the Centre of Forensic Sciences; and
    • critical staff operating the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre
  • staff working in shelters (e.g., serving homeless populations)
  • power workers
  • pharmaceutical and medical supplies and device manufacturing workers
  • non-municipal water and waste-water employees
  • federally employed staff including Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and Canada Post employees
  • workers in grocery stores and pharmacies
  • truck drivers (Driver's Licence Class A and D)
  • workers in the food supply chain, including food processing
  • workers in retirement homes
  • auxiliary workers in health care settings including cooks and cleaning staff in hospitals and long-term care homes
  • interpreters and intervenors who support people who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and deafblind
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) emergency personnel
  • Provincial officers and onsite staff in Ontario courts
  • Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence working in Ontario
  • additional workers supporting public safety and correctional services

Criteria for a child care centre to open

Before opening its doors to provide emergency child care to support health care and other frontline workers, a child care centre must adhere to strict measures and criteria.

The child care centre:

  • must be an existing child care centre
  • must meet all requirements set out in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014
  • must follow all current ministry policies and guidelines. The ministry will consider amending licenses as needed to support mixed-age groupings
  • must consult the local Medical Officer of Health, who must be supportive of all settings established
  • must have a plan or protocol in place in the event that a child, parent or staff member at the site is exposed to COVID-19
  • cannot have more than 50 people in the location at one time, including children, employees, parents and guardians. This number may change as the pandemic situation evolves
  • must be thoroughly cleaned every day and before opening
  • must not allow visitors to enter the centre

Guidance document from the Ministry of Health for emergency child care centres

For more information about how to become an emergency child care provider, please contact your local Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Services Administration Boards.