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December 8th, 2022

NDP calls on Liberals to outlaw the physical punishment of children in Canada

OTTAWA – On Thursday, NDP House Leader Peter Julian urged the government to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code which permits the physical punishment of children in Canada. It is currently legal for parents and legal representatives, teachers and caregivers — including babysitters and foster parents, to physically assault children under certain circumstances. Julian has introduced a Private Member’s Bill C-273 that would put an end to this.

“The federal government has an obligation and duty to ensure our laws protect and ensure the safety of children and youth,” said Julian. “We call on the Trudeau government to put an immediate end to the corporal punishment of all children in Canada. Children are among the most vulnerable people in our society. It is time to take meaningful action to protect children and ensure they aren’t being harmed by their parents and legal guardians.”

Julian’s call is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for action number six which calls for the repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code that permits corporal punishment against children.

Julian was also joined by the Yukon NDP Leader Kate White and the former superintendent for the Yukon Department of Education, Donna Miller-Fry, who echoed his call and talked about how section 43 of the Criminal Code allegedly allowed the punishment of children at the Jack Hulland Elementary school in the Yukon. Parents allege that children at the school have been dragged to isolation units where they could be left alone for hours. An RCMP investigation is underway and these allegations are now part of a class-action lawsuit against the government of Yukon.

“Physical punishment of a child is never acceptable. The use of restraints and isolations cells as a form of punishment in a public Yukon elementary school for over 12 years are a sad example of why section 43 must be repealed,” said White.

Miller-Fry spent months trying to get people to pay attention to the restraint and seclusion allegations at the school, so that impacted children can get help.

"Most people I talk to think that this can't possibly be true”, she stated. “The Yukon government themselves has admitted to years of corporal punishment of children in one of their schools. We have to make sure this never happens to another child.”