Call to Action # 6

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

Why “Not Started?

No action or progress since Bill S-206 “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (protection of children against standard child-rearing violence) didn’t progress beyond second reading in the senate on May 31, 2018 – almost four years ago. Efforts to date have been focused on education and raising awareness on issues with spanking. 

Current Status

April 4, 2022

Not Started

Previous Status

February 14, 2022

Not Started

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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 The issue of whether or not section 43 of the Criminal Code should be repealed raises differing and strongly held views across Canada.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.