Jérémie Audette’s death could have been prevented.
Following a coroner’s inquest, a five-person jury made 16 recommendations to prevent future accidents.
Jérémie drowned in 2010 in a pool at an unlicensed daycare facility in Orléans.
On Dec. 4, Vivian Lee Stewart, Crown counsel, gave the jury a long list of recommendations to consider, put together with input from the Audette family.
The Crown suggested a review of the Day Nurseries Act, which governs many aspects of daycares and home-based childcare to include rules surrounding registration and water play.
It also gave suggestions for municipalities regarding pool enclosures, and for realtors to provide information on pool safety.
The jury was then given time to deliberate, after hearing from a number of witnesses from the day of Jérémie’s death and experts from a variety of fields.
“It wasn’t easy to relive Jérémie’s tragedy,” said his father, Alain Audette, in a Dec. 4 address to the jury. “Jérémie’s life was taken too soon, which is why the Audette family will stay involved (in promoting safety). We hope that Jérémie’s inquest will serve as a valuable life lesson to the public on daycare and water safety.”
He said the family hoped “achievable and realistic recommendations would be implemented.”
Following the address to the jury, Audette said he felt satisfied that he and wife Melanie had been given ample input into the proposed recommendations.
He said there should be an emphasis on non-pool water play for children in daycares, such as sprinklers and splash pads.
At the end of the day, the reason for Jérémie’s death fell to supervisory ratios, Audette said.
The recommendations officially made by the jury included banning swimming pools, including wading pools, at any private home daycare, matching the ratio of adults to children at both licensed and unlicensed daycares, and requiring all unlicensed daycares to register with the provincial Ministry of Education.
Currently, licensed daycare providers must include their own children in total children being cared for, with a cap of five. In unlicensed daycares, the provider’s own children aren’t counted in the five allowed.
Jérémie was in the care of an unlicensed daycare provider who was visiting the home of another unlicensed provider when the accident happened.
Audette said that daycares should all need to register and be regulated businesses.
The jury also recommended that all pools in the province be completely enclosed, with walls with windows and entrances excluded from counting as enclosed.
Jurors heard from the city’s lawyer that city council paused discussions on proposed amendments to pool enclosure bylaws until the jury issued their recommendations on the topic.
In an inquest, the jury is not asked to find fault or hint at any criminal charges, but to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths from happening.
“We speak for the dead to protect the living,” coroner Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion said to the jury. “We ask you now to speak for Jérémie Audette.”
- With files from Alex Boutilier, Metro Ottawa