Government of Canada investing in maternal and child health

News release

Funding will expand reach of the Baby-Friendly Initiative and help improve breastfeeding rates across Canada

October 4, 2018                      Ottawa, ON                 Public Health Agency of Canada

Research demonstrates that breastfeeding gives babies a healthy start by providing optimal nutrition, boosting their immune systems, and nurturing an emotional bond between mother and baby. The Government of Canada supports breastfeeding to promote better nutrition and overall maternal and child health.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health announced $1.3 million in funding over five years for the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada to strengthen Canada’s Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI). This funding will align the current initiative to the latest guidance on breastfeeding from the World Health Organization and increase the number of Baby-Friendly facilities across the country.

The goal of the BFI is to promote maternal and infant health in Canada by increasing breastfeeding rates across the country. It aims to ensure that mothers and their infants receive the highest quality of family-centred care, whether they choose to breastfeed or not.

Originally launched by the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund in 1991, the BFI is an evidence-based initiative that has proven to be effective for increasing breastfeeding rates and increasing the likelihood that babies will be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. It has since been updated and modified to reflect the Canadian context.


“Removing barriers to breastfeeding and creating supportive environments for mothers who want and are able to breastfeed will help make this choice easier. The Breastfeeding Committee for Canada provides a tremendous amount of expertise and leadership in promoting maternal and child health. Our government looks forward to working with the committee to expand the Baby-Friendly Initiative. Together we can help ensure that mothers across the country have the support, care and information they need to provide their babies with the best possible start in life.”  

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“Advocating for breastfeeding as a healthy start for babies and as a larger public health issue is a priority for me and for the Public Health Agency of Canada. Research confirms that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life offers significant benefits and protection. The Baby-Friendly Initiative plays an important role in encouraging and supporting breastfeeding and in strengthening maternal and child health in Canada.”

Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“With this grant, the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada is delighted to offer hospitals across Canada the opportunity to collaborate in a practical, quality improvement process which optimizes care for new families. This strategy has demonstrated success in mobilizing effective organizational change – benefiting families, hospital staff and their leaders. The process of becoming a Baby-Friendly hospital can improve staff morale and staff retention.  Details for hospital leaders will be available on the BCC website.”

Marina Green
Breastfeeding Committee for Canada
Board of Directors, Chair

Quick facts

  • Breastfeeding is an important, globally recognized indicator of maternal and infant health, associated with significant health benefits for both the mother and infant.

  • In Canada, there are currently 19 BFI-designated hospitals and 127 BFI-designated community centres across the country.

  • Facilities designated as Baby-Friendly must have a breastfeeding policy in place, provide training to all staff to implement the policy, and put into practice key steps that have been shown to promote the health of newborns and mothers.

  • In addition to supporting the BFI, the Public Health Agency of Canada has been updating the Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care: National Guidelines. These guidelines are a key resource on maternal and newborn health and include the latest information and advice from Canadian experts. The chapter on breastfeeding has recently been updated and provides evidence-based guidance on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding.

Associated links


Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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