After a dispute over a chickenpox party, the daycare provider was ordered to reimburse parents in British Columbia

A so-called “chickenpox party” was at the center of a recent dispute between a British Columbia family and their daycare provider, according to a Civil Resolution Tribunal decision.

The parents, whose names are anonymized in the ruling, asked Cindy Northey, who does business as Learn, Grow, Play Daycare, for a refund of her $1,200 deposit and a refund of $1,050 for unused days fees -Dollar.

The dispute dates back to February 2023, according to the decision published online this week.

“Ms. Northey said she was considering exposing her own children, who attended the daycare, to a child who had chickenpox at a party. “Ms. Chance’ pointed out that some parents may choose not to send their children to daycare for an extended period of time,” wrote Court member Christopher C. Rivers.

The parents decided to take their child out of daycare for 13 days and requested a refund for those days. At the same time, they told Northey that they intended to send their child back to daycare and resume payment thereafter.

However, the court said Northey responded by terminating her contract via email.

“Mrs. Finally, Northey said she was terminating the childcare contract because the relationship between the parents and the daycare center was “not optimal.” She gave no explanation at the time as to why she believed this was the case,” it said of the decision.

Northey told the court that the terms of the child care contract entitled her to end it “immediately” and without refund. She also told the court that she never took her children to the party and only approached them as a “potential event.”

Rivers said the emails in evidence showed that Northey told the parents that their sons had been exposed to chickenpox and were asymptomatic. He noted that this contradicted her claim that she never took her children to the party. Additionally, he said there were no emails in which Northey claimed she failed to follow through on her plan.

“She fails to address the fact that the applicants only sought reimbursement if she chose to expose her own children,” Rivers said.

Ultimately, Rivers ruled in favor of the family because he believed that the terms of the contract did not allow Northey to stop providing child care services for the reason and in the manner that she did.

The contract allowed Northey to terminate the daycare if it was in the best interests of the child and the daycare, the decision said.

“Ms. Northey stated that the parent-provider relationship was not the best for the daycare, but provided no explanation as to how termination of services would be in (the child’s) best interest…I find that Ms. Northey must prove both, to be entitled to terminate the contract. Since she has not done so, I find that she has breached the parties’ contract by unilaterally terminating the care (of the child),” it continues.

Additionally, the court found that the contract provided for termination of services and that the “immediate” termination of the daycare was a breach of the contract.

The court awarded the parents $2,250 for breach of contract, as well as $122.71 in prejudgment interest and $140.62 in fees.

At chickenpox parties, parents intentionally expose their unvaccinated children to the disease. The BC Center for Disease Control warns against this and calls for vaccination instead.

“Do not intentionally expose your child to chickenpox. Some parents expose their children to chickenpox because they believe it is safer for children to catch the disease at a young age. This is not a good idea because even small children can have serious problems with chickenpox,” says the agency.

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