Breastfeeding Laws and Nursing Rights in Canada

Mother Breast Feeding Baby
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It's always good to know what the breastfeeding laws are to any place you travel. In the United States, laws that protect a woman's right to breastfeed vary from state to state, but 49 states (Idaho is the sole holdout) and the District of Columbia have laws specifically allowing breastfeeding in any location, public or private. See the full list of state breastfeeding laws here. 

In Canada, federal laws do not specifically address a woman's right to breastfeed.

Laws vary province by province. 

When asked about the issue of breastfeeding in public in Canada, breastfeeding support groups typically point to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (which is 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

Only two provinces have laws that protect breastfeeding as a right: British Columbia and Ontario. 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."

The Ontario Human Rights Coalition states that women have the right to breastfeed in public, and no one should disturb or ask them to "cover up," or be more "discreet."

The Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) of Canada, a non-governmental advocacy organization, states that women are protected against discrimination on the basis of sex, and considers breastfeeding and pregnancy to be covered by that provision. 

If you are breastfeeding in Canada and are harassed, INFACT suggests contact the La Leche League or one of the Human Rights Commission's offices.


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