The regional health authority in charge of overseeing the operations of daycares in Vancouver says it was not responsible for the death of a B.C. toddler at an unlicensed daycare.
The mother of Macallan Wayne Saini, Shelly Sheppard, filed the lawsuit in September.
The 16-month-old, also known as Baby Mac, died in January 2017 at Olive Branch Daycare in Vancouver. According to court documents that name Vancouver Coastal Health, Sheppard said she “understands that Mac Saini has been left unattended and had choked on an electrical causing his death.”
The civil suit has listed the health authority, the Ministry of Child and Family Development, daycare operator Yasmine Saad and building owners Karen Pearl Kruse and Peter Andrew Scott as defendants.
Sheppard argued the health authority and MCFD, which both oversee the standards for daycare facilities in the region, were aware of and had investigated multiple complaints of the daycare operating without a licence, dating as far back as 2010.
Baby Mac’s death sparked provincewide debate on regulating childcare. Sheppard and the child’s father, Chris Saini, called on the B.C. government to create a registry for daycare operators and more affordable childcare options to increase safety.
Sheppard’s lawsuit also claims she has suffered fatigue, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder since her son’s death.
She is seeking payment for a number of damages, including loss of earnings, as well as a declaration by officials that Baby Mac was deprived of his right to life and security contrary to his human rights.
According to court documents, the health authority had identified daycare operator Saad as a “moderate risk to health and safety,” but had never fined her.
In a response to her claim, filed Dec. 5, Vancouver Coastal Health denied any negligence, claiming it had no knowledge Saad was running an unlicensed facility.
It also said while it had received four complaints about Saad, they each involved different addresses and all related to caring for too many kids, not about being unlicensed. The health authority said each complaint was dealt with.
The health authority is asking the court to dismiss the claim, with costs.
No other respondents have filed a statement of defence. None of the allegations has been proven in court.