Quick Links to MY Canada National Communications on This Issue:
Senate Bill S-206, currently being debated in the Senate, seeks to remove section 43 of the Criminal Code and would make it illegal for parents to use limited, minor physical force for disciplinary purposes.
Presently in Canada, section 43 of the Criminal Code permits disciplinary force that is sober and reasoned, that addresses actual behaviour, and is intended to restrain, control, or express symbolic disapproval of a child’s behaviour.
The section is carefully outlined to provide clear restrictions on the use of minor physical force for disciplinary purposes. These include:
- The child must between 2 and 12 years of age,
- and must have the capacity to understand and benefit from the correction.
- Force used must be reasonable and minor,
- must not harm or degrade the child,
- must not be based on the gravity of the wrongdoing,
- may not be applied out of frustration or loss of temper,
- may not involve objects such as rulers or belts,
- and may not be applied to the head.
Sponsorship and History in the Senate:
There have been a number of attempts to ban corporal punishment in Canada since 1997, none of which have succeeded. 7 of these bills were tabled by Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette from 2004-2015. This particular bill was also introduced and sponsored by Senator Hervieux-Payette, halted when she retired in April 2016, and then picked up by another Senator.
What’s Wrong with Bill S-206:
In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the constitutionality of section 43 stating that it supports the interests of children, parents and Canadian society. Bill S-206 would repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code without replacing it, meaning that even careful corrective force by loving parents would amount to assault. As it stands, section 43 provides important protection for parents from criminal liability and supports the parental duty to protect and educate their children.
To gain a exhaustive understand of all that is wrong with Bill S-206, please read Senator Donald Plett’s May 2014 speech opposing the bill.
“Without section 43, Canada’s broad assault law would criminalize force falling far short of what we think of as corporal punishment. The decision not the criminalize such conduct is not grounded in devaluation of the child, but in a concern that to do so risks ruining lives and breaking up families…”
– The Supreme Court of Canada
“This goes well beyond taking away a reasonable, responsible parents’ ability to spank. It takes away their ability to parent. By repealing section 43, the general assault provision of the Criminal Code would be applied to any parent, teacher or guardian who chooses to use force against a child without their consent. This means that a statutory defence based on a “reasonable correction” could no longer be used.
– Senator Donald Plett
What You Can Do:
1 – CONTACT YOUR MP:
We urge you to use ARPA Canada’s Easy Mail tool to send your MP one of two pre-drafted letters expressing your concerns about Bill S-206. Better yet, send both! It only takes a few moments and every letter sent makes a difference.
Click here to find your MP by postal code now.
Click here to send the letter: “Bill S-206 is unnecessary and harmful.“
Click here to send the letter: “Bill S-206 unjustly interferes with families.“
Other Organizations Working on This Issue: