Canada
Ontario daycare operator charged with poisoning two children

QMI AGENCY

Police in Kitchener, Ont., have arrested a former home daycare operator who is suspected of poisoning two children under age five, and are appealing to parents in the region hoping to rule out other possible victims.

Two children in the woman's care became ill and had to be treated in hospital for "serious" symptoms after the woman allegedly administered an over-the-counter eye-care product "in an oral manner," Waterloo Regional Police spokesman Olaf Heinzel said. Police said the product, if ingested, can cause abnormal drowsiness, low blood pressure, decreased heart rate and respiratory difficulty in young children.

Both children recovered, but only after spending several days in hospital.

Police are not revealing the ages of the children in order to protect their identities, but have said they were both under the age of 5.

Police began investigating in March when a child the woman was caring for was taken to a local hospital with serious symptoms. The child recovered but was taken back to hospital with similar symptoms at a later date, police said.

The child who got sick in March was the child of a friend of the accused, Heinzel said.

When police began investigating, they found there had been a similar case in July 2010, when the suspect ran a daycare in the Pioneer Park area of Kitchener, Heinzel said. The daycare was unlicensed and was "a very informal arrangement," Heinzel said. The suspect looked after children in her home and the business did not have a formal name.

Police are not revealing the brand of eye-care product that was used so as not to rule out any other possible cases of poisoning that may have occurred with other types of eye-care products while the suspect ran her daycare, Heinzel said.

Investigators believe there could be other victims from the daycare the woman operated between 2009 and 2011, and are urging anyone with information to contact them.

Christine Allen, 32, who may have also gone by the name Christine Keilbar, is charged with two counts each of aggravated assault and administering a noxious substance.

She is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife called the news "horrifying."

"While I have full confidence that the Waterloo Regional Police will get to the bottom of this in their investigation, I am appalled at this government's inability to protect the health, safety and well-being of our children in home daycares," she said in a statement.


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