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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Eva’s parents launch $3.5 million lawsuit over daycare death

Eva’s parents launch daycare lawsuit to prevent other deaths, mother says

Toronto Star - The family of Eva Ravikovich, the toddler who died at a Vaughan daycare last month, is suing the Ministry of Education and their unlicensed child care provider for $3.5 million.
The two-year-old’s parents, Ekaterina Evtropova and Vycheslav Ravikovich, spoke to media gathered at their lawyer’s downtown Toronto office Thursday morning to announce the lawsuit.
“I don’t want this to happen to any other family,” said Evtropova, who described her grief as a repeating daily cycle of realizing her only daughter is gone.
“I do not want any other parents to suffer the loss of a child in a situation like this,” she said, hands clasped gently in front of a field of microphones next to a framed picture of her daughter on a boardroom table.
Eva died last month at an unlicensed home daycare near Dufferin St. and Langstaff Rd. The incident prompted ongoing investigations by York Regional Police and a Brampton coroner. A cause of death has yet to be announced. Claims made in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.
The daycare, which catered to the Russian community north of Toronto, was run by Olena Panfilova, members of her family, and nearby residents Inna Koganova and Valery Koganov, according to a statement of claim presented at the press conference.
Unlicensed daycares escape oversight unless a complaint is filed that an operation is looking after more than five children under the age of 10.
The daycare was found to have at least 35 children signed up for care, according to York Region Public Health.
The family’s lawyer, victims’ rights and personal injury specialist Patrick Brown, said the lawsuit is alleging the daycare operators showed repeated negligence and failed to provide adequate care, while the Ministry of Education ought to have better investigated the daycare when public complaints came in last year.
The government has admitted it failed to respond to two complaints about the number of kids at this daycare last year, and two Education Ministry investigators have been suspended.
Brown added that he’s heard from the coroner that, although a cause of death is unknown, the loss of the child was preventable.
“These parents have been through an absolute nightmare,” Brown said. “It’s even more tragic to find out the death of (Eva) was preventable.”
Responding to calls from the provincial NDP, the ombudsman at Queen’s Park launched an inquiry into how the Ministry of Education deals with unlicensed daycares.
The daycare remains closed after a failed health and cleanliness inspection.
The outcry following Eva’s death also brought up questions of transparency when it comes to how the Education Ministry shares information of past complaints against unlicensed child care providers with parents and the public. Last week, Education Minister Liz Sandals pledged to make all complaints available on a searchable database, backpedalling from an initial stance to keep this information secret unless someone made a Freedom of Information request.
At Thursday’s press conference, Eva’s mother said she now has “nothing to live for” except pushing to make sure something like this never happens again.
“Unfortunately there is no place for me in heaven (right now), so I have to be here,” she said. “I have no other choice. I have to live.”

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