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Do Canadian Breastfeeding Laws Uphold the Right to Breastfeed in Public?


Updated July 01, 2014

Mother Breast Feeding Baby
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Question: Do Canadian Breastfeeding Laws Uphold the Right to Breastfeed in Public?
I am very excited to be heading to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. However, I am going to be taking my nursing baby, and I need to know if there are any breastfeeding laws on the books that protect my right to breastfeed in public. Can you help me find the answer?

It's always good to know what the breastfeeding laws are to any place you travel. Similar to the United States, laws protecting the right to breastfeed are covered by the individual province. Federal laws do not specifically address a woman's right to breastfeed.

Canadian Federal Laws and the Right to Breastfeed

When asked about the issue of breastfeeding in public in Canada, breastfeeding support groups typically point to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (comparable to the U.S. Bill of Rights). The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees "gender equity," and it is on that clause that most breastfeeding rights advocates hang their hat.

Breastfeeding Laws in British Columbia and Ontario

On the provincial level, only two provinces have laws that protect a woman's right to breastfeed. British Columbia and Ontario have been pioneering there way in breastfeeding rights. In these provinces, not only is a woman's right to breastfeed anywhere at any time protected, it is also illegal to ask the mother to be discrete. The Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia states it this way, "Nursing mothers have the right to breastfeed their children in a public area, and it is discriminatory to ask them to cover up or breastfeed somewhere else."

So rest assured that while on your trip to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, you and your baby have every right to breastfeed in public and the British Columbian courts will back you up on that. A tip I would offer, should you receive any flack while there, print out a copy of the local breastfeeding law and keep it in your diaper bag. Should you be approached, simply hand the paper to the critic with a silent smile and continue to feed your baby as you are entitled to by law.

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