9:30 a.m., Nov. 30)
describes horrific moments after learning of son's death
The circumstances surrounding the 2010 drowning
death of Jérèmie Audette are
the focus of a coroner's inquest which began
on Monday. File photo
Audette first heard that something terrible had happened
to his son Jérèmie in a panic filled message
left on his office voicemail.
was at work, Audette told the hushed courtroom during
day four of a coroner's inquest into the circumstances
surrounding his son's tragic death on July 28, 2012. "When
I went down, I had a message. I listened to it and it
"her" Audette referred to was his son's caregiver
was her in panic mode telling me that Jérèmie
had jumped in the big pool,"
said Audette. "Right
away, I didnt think. I just started to run.
While McLellan didn't use the words "drowning"
or "dead" in her message, the warning bells
instinctively went off in Audette's head.
leaving his office he quickly called McLellan who was
only supposed to be his son's caregiver for another week
asked her, 'Is he dead?', Audette said while recalling
those first horrific moments. She wouldnt
then quickly called his wife, who
was pregnant with their second child at the time. "I
just told her 'I think Jérèmie's dead',"
Audette said choked with emotion.
to fully comprehend the magnitude of what McLellan was
not telling him, Audette sped to the home of Wendy Lapierre
who was hosting a play date for the kids in her care as
well as three other caregivers including McLellan who
was looking after seven children at the time.
Audette got to Lapierre's street it was blocked by a police
car. After finding out his son had been taken to CHEO
he drove straight to the hospital where his worst fears
was the first at CHEO, he said. I saw him
taken out of the ambulance."
told the inquest that he and his wife had no prior knowledge
that McLellan was taking their son on a "play date",
or that there would be 30 other kids at the event in close
proximity to an above ground pool.
did admit that he and his wife were concerned about the
number of outings McLellan took her children on and that
they had already made arrangements to transfer him to
another day care.
to Audette's testimony, the inquest was given an education
on the difference between licensed and unlicensed day
cares in Ontario. The biggest difference is that unlicensed
day care spots are much cheaper because they is no obligation
to meet and maintain provincial standards. The lone regulation
they must adhere to is a limit of five children under
the age of 10, not including their own children.
home-based day cares are allowed to exist out of necessity.
According to the agency which runs Ottawa's centralized
waiting list for daycare spots, there are currently 12,200
children waiting to attend a licensed day care of which
there are 130 in Ottawa.
many parents unlicensed day cares are the only option
available to them. One of the problems is that the limitation
on the number of kids an unlicensed day care operator
can care for necessitates a large number of operators
to keep up with demand. The Child Care Providers Resource
Network for Ottawa-Carleton lists 92 unlicensed home-based
day cares in Orléans. That might seem like a lot,
until you consider they can only provide care for 460
kids in a community of nearly 100,000 people.
Jérèmie's tragic death, McLellan closed
her home-based day care which forced the parents of the
remaining children to scramble for an alternative. Most
had difficulty finding another caregiver in the short
term due to the lack of both licensed and unlicensed day
care spots in Orléans.
Audettes knew the difference between licensed and unlicensed
day cares and they checked McLellan's references before
contracting her to take care of their son. It was only
after they had concerns about the number of outings she
took the kids on that they decided to switch providers.
what he would like to see happen in the tragic aftermath
of his son's death, Audette said that the province should
prohibit home-based day cares from having swimming pools.
following Jérèmie's death, the Ministry
issued a memo requiring licensed daycares not to have
pools on their premises.
is expected the inquest will result in several recommended
changes to the Ontario Day Nurseries Act including the
prohibition of wading and swimming pools from both licensed
and unlicensed daycares.
inquest will continue on Monday.
police photo shows the South Fallinbrook backyard
where two-year-old Jérèmie Audette
drowned while attending a playdate on July
28, 2010.. Ottawa Police Service photo
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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