TORONTO -- The City of Toronto has opened four emergency child care centres for eligible, essential and critical service workers.

“As of this morning, approximately 487 families, representing more than 705 children, have applied,” the city said in a news release issued Tuesday. “Roughly 64 per cent of the applications have come from frontline health care workers and approximately 36 per cent from eligible, essential city employees.”

More than one hundred children have already been placed and will begin attending one of the city’s four child care centres today.

The city says that the centres, which were announced on March 22, will operate as “need demands” on a 24 hours per day, seven days per week basis to support the families of the frontline and essential workers.

In keeping with the province’s direction on reduced group sizes, the city says that each emergency child care centre will hold 30 children at a time.

“We are the first city in Ontario to develop a plan for 24/7 child care for frontline workers who need it,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “We have worked with the province of Ontario in full cooperation to quickly open the application process and have the sites up and running. This is part of our ongoing work to do everything we can at the City of Toronto to help people get through this pandemic.”

The city says that children of eligible families will be admitted to the centres on a “first come, first served basis.”

“If the level of demand exceeds the city’s ability to provide care, the city will prioritize child care space for frontline health care workers (including Toronto Public Health and long-term care) and first responders.”

As it stands, the city says that the greatest demand for emergency child care is in the downtown core to meet the needs of hospital staff. The city says that it is working closely with the province to open additional care centres if needed.

Eligible families are asked to complete and submit and online application. If there is space available, the city says Toronto Children’s Services staff will contact you directly.