Some more info and clarification
Not sure how many are still around discussing this but a friend pointed out the discussion so I thought I would add my 2 cents
I have a personal connection to this case so I can add a bit of insight into some of the issues - I hope...
1. Just to start, there was someone in the pool that day who heard the original complaint. I guess I have to say alleged but that person alleges the complaint was about breastfeeding not health and safety issues.
2. The pool the mom was breastfeeding her baby in is heated so it's pretty cold when you get out. Most of the little ones from the group go into this pool instead of the bigger one which is cooler.
3. There are two large sets of steps on the one end of this smaller pool. The pool itself is too deep for the little ones so many of them will hang out on the steps. The mom was sitting on the steps with her lower half in the water and her upper half outside. Her breasts obviously weren't under the water, neither was the baby's head - they just can't hold their breath that long to feed
4. The mother was told to go to the changeroom. She was not given any other options. It was only after that the owner has said she also offered the viewing area. Just to clarify, you do not need to pass through the changeroom to enter/exit this pool.
5. This mom was not being ratical in what she did. She was asked to go to the changeroom and let the owner know that according to the law she had the right to breastfeed. The owner replied that as per the owner - her, she had to go to the changeroom if she wanted to do that. The mom stopped breastfeeding and tried to distract her daughter for the last few minutes of the leisure swim time. She was really shocked and not to sure what to do.
6. The owner was informed that she had violated this woman's human rights and was asked to apologize. She was provided with the code and a Toronto Star article that discussed a YMCA case and a case in Newmarket at a restaurant. The owner refused to apologized. She has since been provided with a great report put together by the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton after a similar incident came up at an Edmonton pool. The city of Edmonton changed their policy as a result of this report. The section dealing with health issues is addressed on pages 15-20.
7. The original article written on the later incident (discribed as a protest) was incorrect. There was originally a nurse in planned and then talks of a rally. However, it was decided that it was too soon to move forward with that. The local police were involved and let the owner know there was no protest planned. Even when the group of families showed up, the owner asked them to assure her there would be no protest and they agreed. The group was made up of essentially the same people who had gone every week - aside from a couple extra dads to help some of the moms that were to be 'meeting' with the owner and an extra family that came (a common practice when another family was away). It was only when the owner asked if there would be breastfeeding - and was told it was a protected human right - that she told the group they couldn't go inside the facility. Even the non-lactating members of the group were not admitted. She has since told the entire group they are banned from the facility. There is video of this incident.
8. Sorry this is so long. I'm just trying to offer what I can. As other people have mentioned the law is based on gender discrimination, specifically pregnancy and breastfeeding. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre has been very clear that this is a case of discrimination. Taken from the Toronto Star Article by Susan Pigg, November 13 <quote>"Ontario's Human Rights Commission seems to agree. In every case so far, a mediator found the nursing woman had been discriminated against and awarded monetary compensation, said Jennifer Ramsay, spokesperson for the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, the legal team Longuinho has asked to look at her case...Ramsay says the Human Rights Code – which says women can't be prohibited from breastfeeding in public – "has supremacy over other legislation. There could be an exception for health and safety, but I don't think the pool owner or anybody else could argue that it was a health and safety violation."<end quote> No food and drink in or around the pool is not a health and safety issue. If it was then breasts contain food therefore all lactating women would be banned from a pool because there would be a risk of a violation simply by having them enter the pool. Breastfeeding itself does not increase the risk of breastmilk in the pool so if it was really a contaminant then all risk would be removed as it is an uncontrollable reality that lactating women will leak - more actually from not breastfeeding then from actually feeding.
9. There are no health and safety regulations that prohibit breastfeeding in a pool. The law acknowledges that if something is not expressly written as being prohibited then it is, by definition, allowed. Therefore the no food or drink rule does not apply. Further to this, the no body fluids in the pool specifically mentions blood, semen and saliva but not breastmilk. This is taken from a Globe and Mail article by Tralee Pearce on November 13th <quote> "In Newmarket, there is no municipal policy banning mothers from breastfeeding in pools, town spokeswoman Wanda Bennett says. Women are encouraged to breastfeed anywhere they like, she said. " <end quote> Please note that town pools are actually class A pools and therefore have more stringent regulations then the class B pool where the incident happened.
10. The 'No Food or Drink' rule has been argued before for cases of discrimination both in and around the pool. It is not an accepted reason to discriminate. Taken from - Breastfeeding at Municipal Pools in Canada: A Report from the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton August 16, 2002, Part 2, pages 15 & 16 <quote> Is breastfeeding in the pool safe for other people? “No Food or Drink in the Pool” -- What if breastmilk gets into the water? As we have seen, the policies at some pools discourage or even forbid women from breastfeeding while sitting or standing in pool water. Often they give no rationale for this rule. But some of them cite concerns that breastmilk might “contaminate” pool water. “No Food or Drink in the Pool” rules have been known to be invoked in support of these policies.17 According to Nelson Fok, Research and Development Manager of the Environmental Health Section, Capital Health Authority, Edmonton, Alberta, there are two concerns regarding organic matter such as breastmilk getting into swimming pools. One is that the protein in such matter will bind with pool chlorine, thereby inactivating the chlorine. The other is that a body fluid such as breastmilk might contain bacteria or viruses potentially capable of causing disease in other swimmers. Fok indicates that neither of these problems is a realistic concern as far as breastmilk goes. He said that the small amount of breastmilk that might enter the water when a woman breastfed would not be enough to cause any significant level of de-activation of chlorine nor would it pose any real risk of causing disease. He also pointed out that breastmilk contains anti-infective substances.18 We can speculate that these might actually act on bacteria and viruses already in the water. <end quote> So I guess breastmilk in the water could actually be a good thing.
11. I especially like this quote from the same Globe and Mail article above. <quote> "Gideon Koren, director of the Motherisk program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, says any arguments about a baby's welfare used to ban a woman from breastfeeding in a pool are based on "pseudoscience." And, "when people use pseudoscience to make scientific arguments, it becomes very suspicious. It's very aggressive nonsense."...Instead, experts say, this case highlights a lingering difficulty with public breastfeeding. "When push comes to shove, we still have trouble with breasts in public. We know we shouldn't, but we do," Dr. McGeer says." <end quote>
This brings it back to the issue since all the myths about there being any health and safety concerns have been dispelled. Therefore the only issue is about people feeling uncomfortable with seeing a woman breastfeed... This resonates with most people, or at least the younger generation, as many more families are use to breastfeeding and it seems like a very outdated idea to hide women and babies away in the back room so that others can be comfortable. So can it not be put back on them? Is it not more considerate, in our compassionate society, to turn your head if you are uncomfortable with a mother feeding her baby, instead of forcing a mother AND her baby to hide away for 20 minutes while she does what a HUGE portion of our population has to do, several times a day, every day, for months or years?
The reason that Public health is so interested in the anytime, anywhere campaign is because breastfeeding is a health issue. If a mother does not breastfeed she needs to use breastmilk substitutes to feed her child/ren. Breastmilk substitues are not breastmilk and have been proven to carry risks. These risks can lead to short and long term health risks to both the mother and the baby. As a society, this is a concern because it creates more of a burden on the health care system. One of the big reasons why mom's don't breastfeed is because they feel they cannot carry on with their lives if they have to hide away from everyone to breastfeed. Newborns feed, on average, 8-10 times a day. Many feedings can last 20 minutes. Do the math - a new mother would never be able to go anywhere if she was always hidding away to breastfeed. Who would want to breastfeed then? And that is why we, as a society, need to change the social norm so that breastfeeding a baby isn't a sexual act - WHICH IT ISN'T! Thankfully, as I said before, most people now have no problem with it.
If you got to the end of this, thanks for reading. I hope I was able to offer something to the discussion, even if a bit late.