Private breastfeeding and nurturing spaces could be coming to Brampton facilities


Published May 15, 2023 at 10:48 am

Parents and caregivers looking for privacy during feeding time in Brampton may soon have more options with dedicated breastfeeding and bottle-feeding spaces in City-owned buildings.

A motion going to Brampton City Council on Wednesday (May 17) could see staff look at setting up private, optional breastfeeding or nurturing areas in all City-owned facilities like City Hall, sports and rec centres, libraries, and more.

The proposal was put forward by Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor at a Committee of Council meeting last week after receiving complaints from a resident about a lack of private spaces to breastfeed at a Brampton Library branch.

The City currently does not provide dedicated breastfeeding or bottle-feeding spaces for families but is a “Breastfeeding friendly organization,” meaning caregivers are welcome to breastfeed or nurture children openly at City facilities, or staff ask staff to find them a private area should they wish.

“It puts them in an uncomfortable position where they have to ask for (private space), versus us proactively providing a space for this,” Toor said of the City’s current policy.

The motion was deferred to City Council’s regular meeting on Wednesday (May 15) after a discussion on the matter in committee last week, with some councillors concerned bringing in dedicated nurturing spaces may send the wrong message to parents and caregivers about the City’s policy.

Coun. Rowena Santos said is weary that dedicated spaces might unintentionally re-enforce the stigma of public breastfeeding faced by many parents, including herself.

“I know I did, and I got the stares and I got the looks at the time,” Santos said of her own experience. “I didn’t care, but I’m sure other mothers would be disturbed by that.”

Santos also said that the motion and any policies on breastfeeding and bottle-feeding areas should be inclusive and mindful of stereotypes, and not discriminate against caregivers based on factors like gender or sexual orientation.

The motion will go to council on Wednesday and, if passed, will see staff explore options for nurturing spaces at all City-owned facilities for caregivers to use “should they wish to do so” and report back at a later date.

Breastfeeding is protected under the City of Brampton’s Respectful Workplace Policy and the Ontario Human Rights Code.

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