Call to Action # 6

We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020STALLED
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

No commitment to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code. Efforts to date are focused on education and raising awareness on issues with spanking. Bill S-206 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence) as of May 31, 2018 Second reading in the Senate has still not received Royal Assent.

Current Legislative Status for Bill S-206. June 30, 2019

Dec. 8 2015 – Senate Bill S-206 “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence) introduced for First Reading

April 3, 2018 – This Act comes into force one year after the day on which it receives royal assent or on a day to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council, whichever is the earlier.

May 31, 2018 – Bill S-206 moves to second reading in the Senate. Referred to committee

Canadian Bar Association (CBA)

Urges Parliament to replace s. 43 of the Criminal Code with a narrow, modern exemption that can be developed after careful Parliamentary study, consideration of recent legal precedents and consultation with the public and experts.

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

All children have the right to be protected from violence. The Criminal Code and provincial and territorial welfare laws protect children from all forms of violence, including abusive and harmful conduct. Section 43 of the Criminal Code provides a limited defence to parents, caregivers and teachers who use reasonable force toward a child. The issue of whether or not section 43 of the Criminal Code should be repealed raises differing and strongly held views across Canada.

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada found that section 43 was constitutional in a case called Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General). However, the court’s decision, which included guidelines, significantly narrowed the application of section 43 to reasonable, corrective force that is minor or transitory and trifling in nature. The court also made clear that teachers cannot use corporal punishment under any circumstances.

Since 1987, the Government of Canada has been supporting parenting education programs, such as the Nobody’s perfect program, and develops publications that discourage physical discipline and provides caregivers with positive parenting skills. For example, the online brochure called What’s Wrong with Spanking? helps to guide parents in responding to children’s behaviour.

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