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Listeria found in food at Ontario daycare where toddler died
Public health inspectors who entered a home daycare in Vaughan, Ont., where a toddler died in July say they found rotting food in the fridge, unsanitized toys, and evidence of inadequate handwashing in the home.
Most disturbingly, lab test results also revealed listeria -- a potentially deadly type of bacteria -- in several foods stored in the daycare’s fridge, including a chicken stew fed to the children, as well as an unidentified and dessicated grains dish.
The findings are contained in a York Region Public Health inspection report that was made public following a Freedom of Information request made by The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.
The report shows inspectors also found five cribs in one bedroom and seven day beds in another bedroom, as well as 14 dogs and nine children in a neighbouring house that was also used as part of the daycare.
"Shocking, shocking conditions in the home," Andrea Calver, of The Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, told CTV Toronto.
Calver said many citizens had come forward to complain about the facility but the Ministry of Education failed to inspect it.
"This was a preventable death and there is no doubt that the Ministry of Education dropped the ball," Calver said.
The coalition is calling on the provincial government to license all people who provide child care in their homes.
The daycare was shut down on July 9, one day after the sudden death of 21-month-old Eva Ravikovich. She was pronounced dead after York Region Police were called to the daycare.
Police say there were 27 children in the home when Ravikovich died. Provincial legislation states that unlicensed home-based daycares can care for no more than five children under the age of 10 at the same time.
The cause of the toddler's death hasn't been released, but the family has said they were told their daughter's death was "100 per cent preventable." The lawsuit alleges the girl was in good health the morning of her death, but "suffered serious injuries" and sustained pain and suffering before she died.
In the days following the girl's death, public health officials conducted several inspections of the home. In their report, they say they found a “garlic-tomato mixture" in the fridge that appeared to be fermenting; dried oatmeal mixes stored alongside cleaners and garbage under the sink; and deli meat with a best-before date that had passed three weeks earlier.
They also found dirty diapers in the garbage in the kitchen where meals for the children were prepared, and deep pile carpets in the play areas that could not be cleaned or sanitized properly.
The inspectors say their discussions with the daycare's operator, Olena Panfilova, revealed she had little or no understanding of proper disinfection techniques for a daycare setting.
Last month, Eva parents, Ekaterina Evtopva and Vycheslav Ravikovich, launched a $3.5-million lawsuit against the owner and operators of the daycare, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Education.
They allege that three complaints had already been filed about the number of children attending the daycare; only the last one was followed up on. They say they were not informed about any of the complaints concerning the daycare.
The Ontario Ministry of Education filed an injunction in August to prevent the operators from reopening any daycares in the province.
With report from CTV Toronto’s John Musselman