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Breastfeeding moms could prevail in West Kelowna

A group of mothers breastfeed their children during a mass feed-in during a West Kelowna council meeting.
May 12, 2015 - 12:58 PM

WEST KELOWNA - Breastfeeding is a right protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and according to a report from staff, District of West Kelowna staff should be trained in to recognize this — to do anything else is sex discrimination.

The staff report recommends West Kelowna get behind a request originally made in early March by a trio of UBCO nursing students and a public health nurse from the Interior Health Authority. The delegation asked council agree to provide sensitivity training for staff members and to display a baby-friendly sticker on the doors of public buildings.

Some councillors took issue with the request and the delegation left with nothing more than a promise to look into the issue. However, the response from councillors prompted a mass feed-in by protesting mothers and fathers at the next council meeting and the issue was quickly sent to staff for a recommendation.

Now Jim Zaffino, corporate adminstrative officer for the district, is acknowledging what the UBCO delegation asked for is what councillors should adopt.

“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 report says. “All places in Canada, public or private, must be breastfeeding friendly.”

Zaffino says compliance with the policy wil cost next to nothing and can be accomplished by training staff during quarterly meetings and during new staff orientation.

In making their recommendation, staff looked at Lake Country and Kelowna and how they had accommodated the baby-friendly initiative. Zaffino notes in the report that allowing stickers such as those requested would be precedent-setting for the district and as such, an alternate recommendation would see West Kelowna opt out of using the baby-friendly stickers.

Council will decide whether to accept the staff recommendations at a council meeting Tuesday, May 12.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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