City council heard a policy proposal surrounding breastfeeding on city property at the Feb. 4 standing committees meeting, which stemmed from a complaint that arose after an “aquatics” staff member at the Canada Games Centre “asked a mother not to breastfeed while in the pool waters” in Feb. 2018. (lolostock/123rf.com)

City of Whitehorse to formalize its breastfeeding policy after a complaint

The policy in support of the right to breastfeed on city property is before council

Whitehorse City Council heard a policy proposal surrounding breastfeeding on city property at the Feb. 4 standing committees meeting.

The policy as presented to council “recognizes the importance of creating a family-friendly environment for citizens, employees and visitors” and states that the city “wishes to support breastfeeding individuals and the right to breastfeed undisturbed in public places within the city, and specifically within city premises.”

The policy is being recommended after a complaint last year from a woman who was asked by a city staff member not to breastfeed in the pool at the Canada Games Centre.

The woman complained she was being discriminated against on the “basis of sex, including pregnancy and pregnancy related conditions and the duty to accommodate … in offering… services or facilities to the public,” said Catherine Constable, manager of legislative services for the city.

The staff member was acting “in accordance with written direction provided by the Yukon government (branch of) Environmental Health” which “prohibited eating and drinking in the pool, including breastfeeding” due to the risk of breast milk as a “contaminant,” Constable said.

Environmental Health has since “rescinded” this policy after it “reviewed best practices,” said Constable and found that breast milk was not a contaminant but rather a bodily fluid “like sweat.”

The complaint was an opportunity to “formalize” the city’s support for the right to breastfeed in policy, Constable said.

Public breastfeeding is not presently and would in no way be prohibited by the policy, she said. The policy would focus on allowing breastfeeding women to access safe, private spaces to nurse if that was what they wanted.

The city recognizes “the importance of breastfeeding to the health and well-being of moms, babies and communities” as being “well supported” by research, Constable said in her presentation to council.

Employers also benefit from “supporting families to continue to breastfeed… upon women returning to work” as it “decreases employee turnover, absenteeism… and health care costs… increases employee morale and loyalty, productivity and the overall health of babies and the community,” she said.

The resolution also mandates that city employees will “respect and support an individual’s right to breastfeed in public,” ensure anyone who might object to public breastfeeding on city property is made aware of that right, provide a “supportive environment” for breastfeeding employees returning to work and “make reasonable efforts” to give breastfeeding women a “private space… if requested.”

The city is in the process of creating a training package for city employees to help mitigate any confusion around the policy and the right to breastfeed, said Krista Mroz, manager of recreation and facility services.

The policy will go before council for adoption at the regular council meeting Feb. 11.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal government funds five new green energy projects

Around 40 homes near Whitehorse will participate a pilot project testing heat-storage technology

Council ponders freezing own wages

As it considers salaries for next term, some current members suggest not taking next CPI increase

Whitehorse driver gets one-month sentence, $1k fine for fatally hitting pedestrian in 2019

Karen Kennedy was sentenced before territorial court judge Michael Cozens Sept. 22

YG seeks members for youth climate change panel

“Yukon youth deserve to have their voices heard”

Yukon NDP hold AGM

This year’s meeting was held virtually

Watson Lake man arrested on cocaine charge

Calvin Pembleton, 53, is facing multiple charges

Liard First Nation’s language department receives literacy award

Decades of work has made Kaska language available to many

Yukon government releases new guidelines for COVID-19 symptoms and sending children to school

The advice sorts symptoms into three categories: red, yellow and green

Nominations closed in Watson Lake byelection

Four candidates are running for mayor

Baggage screening changes begin

Passengers are asked to arrive earlier than normal in order to accommodate the new temporary system

Yukon Government extends education review

The final report is scheduled for release in March 2021

Most Read