TORONTO -- The Ontario government has announced it will provide free child care to eligible health-care and front-line workers starting on Monday.

According to the government, the decision was made after it was announced last week that schools will close in the province indefinitely to in-person learning.

Starting April 19, emergency child care will be provided at no cost to school-aged children for parents and guardians who are eligible.

The government said the free child care is intended to help people who can’t work from home who have elementary school-aged children.

"Child care is an absolutely critical part of our fight against COVID-19, and will be key to our economic recovery," Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a written statement Thursday

The government said eligible parents and guardians with a school-aged child should contact their local service system manager for information on availability, program locations and registration.

During the school closure, parents who are not designated as frontline workers will not be able to send their children to child care facilities. 

Full list of those eligible for free child care:

  • Health care workers, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, health care providers and those who work in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as individuals who manufacture or distribute medical/pharmaceutical supplies
  • Individuals performing work in relation to the administration, distribution or manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines
  • Child care workers, including those staffing the emergency child care programs
  • Grocery store and pharmacy workers
  • Public safety (police, fire, paramedics, provincial inspection/enforcement), justice/court and correctional system workers
  • Frontline staff in Children's Aid Societies and residential services
  • Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services, victims' services, anti-human trafficking and those engaged in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind
  • Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons
  • Food safety inspectors and individuals working in the processing, manufacturing or distribution of food and beverages
  • OPS staff employed in Radiation Protection Services
  • OPS staff performing critical tasks related to environmental monitoring, reporting and laboratory services
  • Certain federal employees, including RCMP, Canada Border Services, Canadian Armed Forces and Canada Post
  • Power workers
  • Non-municipal water and wastewater workers
  • Workers involved in the collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste
  • Education staff who are required to attend schools to provide in-person instruction and support to students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning
  • Employees of a hotel or motel that is acting as an isolation centre, health care centre, vaccine clinic or housing essential workers
  • Truck drivers and transit workers
  • Construction workers
  • Any individual whose child was registered in an emergency child care program delivered by a Consolidated Municipal Service Manager or District Social Service Administration Board during the time period beginning on April 6, 2021 and ending on April 16, 2021.