NDP and Yukon NDP call on Liberals to outlaw the physical punishment of children in Canada

Whitehorse – Today, NDP MP Peter Julian joined Yukon NDP Leader Kate White and former superintendent for the Yukon Department of Education, Donna Miller-Fry, to press the federal 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 to physically assault children under certain circumstances. Julian has introduced Private Member’s Bill C-273 that would put an end to this.

“Physical punishment of a child is never acceptable. The use of restraints and isolation cells as a form of discipline in a Yukon elementary school is a sad example of why section 43 needs to be repealed,” said Kate White, leader of the Yukon NDP.

Julian’s Bill C-273 is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action No. 6 which calls for the repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code that permits corporal punishment against children.

“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.”

The Government of Yukon has disclosed that holds and isolation cells were used as a way of disciplining children at the Jack Hulland Elementary school. Parents allege that children at the school were dragged to isolation cells 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.

Donna Miller-Fry spent months trying to get people to pay attention to the restraint and seclusion allegations, so that impacted children can receive the help they need. “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.”